The 20th edition of MDAG, the biggest film festival in Poland, will start in a month! On this occasion, a press conference was held at Warsaw's Kinoteka, where the most important information about the event was announced. The festival will begin in eight Polish cities on 12 May. The festival will last in cinemas until 21 May, and from 23 May to 4 June the online part will be available at mdag.pl.
Don't be indifferent!
"Don't be indifferent" - these words correspond to the mission of Millennium Docs Against Gravity and the film programme presented at the festival over the years. They are an expression of the values that have accompanied the festival since its beginning – attentiveness and sensitivity (linguistic sensitivity included) to the people around us. They inclusively address everyone, regardless of gender identity, thus drawing attention to the special role of language in the contemporary world. The festival aims to create a space where every person feels at ease, no matter their gender, sexual orientation or background. The slogan for the 20th-anniversary edition of MDAG refers to the famous words of Marian Turski, which also became the slogan for the celebrations marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising organised by the POLIN Museum. Sharing the same slogan in a year so significant for both organisations is an expression of close cooperation and the sharing of common values between the festival and the museum.
Festival artistic director Karol Piekarczyk was also very pleased to point out that, as an important part of the fight for equality in the world of cinema, this year MDAG will once again maintain a gender balance among directors with eight women and eight men directing films in the Main Competition. The jury, which has 30 members, consists of 17 women and 13 men.
International, European and World Premieres
Every year, the best documentaries have their International, World and European premieres at our festival. Below are the ones we will present this year:
World Premieres (Feature Films)
Children of Chaos, dir. Agnes Pizzini, Julien Johan
Don't Rain On Our Parade, dir. Nina Krawczak, Misia Joachim
Fantastic Matt Parey, dir. Bartosz Paduch
Girl's Stories, dir. Aga Borzym
How Much For Art?, dir. Andrzej Miękus
In the Rearview, dir. Maciek Hamela
Vika!, dir. Agnieszka Zwiefka
Solaris, Mon Amour, dir. Kuba Mikurda
The Promise. Architect BV Doshi, dir. Jan Schmidt-Garre
World Premieres (Short Films)
A Few Things I'd Like to Tell You, dir. Mateusz Góra, Kamil Wilk
Getting To Know You, dir. Joanna Krzyżewska
Handful of Dirt, dir. Izabela Zubrycka
Kiosk, dir. Daniel Stopa
Little Boy, dir. Sophie Horry
Say Daddy, dir. Andriy Shostak
Infinity. The World of Luigi Ghirri, dir. Matteo Parisini
In Viaggio, dir. Gianfranco Rosi
Look What You Made Me Do, dir. Coco Schrijber
NIKKI, dir. Monique Nolte
Soviet Bus Stops, dir. Kristoffer Hegnsvad
The Fall, dir. Andreas Koefoed
Verified Couple, dir. Joscha Bongard
Bad Press, dir. Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler
Joonam, dir. Sierra Urich
Whitman Brook, dir. Ben Silberfarb
Main Competition, Polish Competition and Short Film Competition
This year, 12 films have qualified for the Main Competition of the festival, including three Polish productions or co-productions! They will compete not only for the Grand Prix - the Bank Millennium Award but also for local prizes in the other festival cities: the Lower Silesia Grand Prix in Wrocław, the Bydgoszcz ART/DOC Award, the Silesian Voivodeship Audience Award in Katowice, the City of Gdynia Grand Prix and the Freedom Award funded by the City of Poznań.
Festival audiences will once again have the opportunity to experience a unique encounter with domestic documentary cinema. There are 11 productions taking part in the Polish Competition with a chance to win three awards – the Best Polish Film Award, the Best Production Award in the Polish Competition presented by the post-production studio Smakjam and the Association of Studio Cinemas Award.
Once again, the Short Film Competition will also take place during the festival. 16 shorts from around the world will compete for the title of the winner and a prize sponsored by TikTok.
Bank Millennium – socially sensitive patron of the festival
Bank Millennium has sponsored the festival and funded the Grand Prix since 2006. In 2016, it took over the titular patronage of the event. This means that the cooperation between the festival and the Bank comes of age this year – for 18 years now, MDAG and Bank Millennium have been jointly showing the most acclaimed documentaries from around the world to Polish audiences.
"The festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and we also have a reason to celebrate. Our patronage of the festival has come of age - it has continued uninterrupted for 18 years, during which we have proudly watched Millennium Docs Against Gravity flourish, gain an ever-wider audience and become a must-attend event in the calendar for many of us. Millennium Docs Against Gravity is the most important cultural project we support, but the bank has a much broader outlook – in addition to culture, it supports climate protection, the environment and endangered species while reducing its carbon footprint, it cares about diversity and local communities. Together with the festival, we create a space where groups that are often socially excluded can tell their stories. We address many important and difficult topics that we as people and societies have to face. By supporting the event, we are facilitating access to the world of culture and comprehensive social debate" – says Iwona Jarzębska, Head of Bank Millennium's Public Relations Department.
The festival also receives great support from the municipal authorities. Warsaw is the heart of MDAG, the first festival city and it also gathers the largest audience. Thanks to this support, the most renowned representatives of documentary cinema visit the capital every year, bringing along new and inspiring films.
"The festival's 20th anniversary is a perfect opportunity to give thanks for the great sensitivity and attentiveness that the films presented at Millennium Docs Against Gravity teach us. The festival programme always draws attention to the most important and urgent issues – there are crises affecting us, and warnings of threats to future generations, but there are also cinematic stories of challenges, passions, inspirations and enchantments. This year for the anniversary edition of MDAG it will be no different. This festival does not disappoint and is never indifferent!" – says Artur Jóźwik, Director of the Culture Department of the City of Warsaw.
The 20th edition of the festival is a perfect time to return to the most important titles of the last two decades and, at the same time, to look at the present with new sections in the programme. 20 legendary films for MDAG's 20th anniversary is a personal selection by festival founder and director Artur Liebhart. These films have left a mark on the history of Millennium Docs Against Gravity and documentary cinema. 10 of them will be presented in cinemas and 10 during the online part of the festival. The Power of Sisterhood presents stories about solidarity, the creation of safe spaces, the search for one's path and the collective action against violence and inequality taken by women around the world. Se_x Work is a section focusing on pornography and sex work. We're Here, We're Queer examines what life is like for the LGBTQ+ community around the world, while The Power of Words takes a look at the work of the most prominent writers of our time, such as Elfriede Jelinek, Annie Ernaux, Stanisław Lem, Guy Debord and Umberto Eco. The What the Doc?! section presents unusual stories that can leave you astonished, amused, or horrified. The Cinéma, Mon Amour section, focused on the most important directors of contemporary cinema and the responsibility of documentary filmmakers for their protagonists, returns. The festival will also present a selection of the most interesting VR experiences under the name Reality Check.
First time at MDAG: Safe Space
For the first time at the festival, there will also be a special space where talks with psychologists, as well as workshops and meetings about sexuality and mental health, will take place. Safe Space will be located in room 6 in the heart of the festival, the Warsaw Kinoteka. It will be a safe haven for fun and serious discussions and workshops on sexuality, psychology and all those phenomena that shape our world and society. The meetings will be organised by NGOs, experts and editorial offices associated with the festival. In addition, psychologists will be available to discuss emotions and experiences related to film screenings. The 20-minute consultations will be free of charge. The main partner of the zone is Wellbee.
MDAG Industry – a space for the development of the documentary industry
MDAG Industry project is a unique film industry event that connects Polish filmmakers with foreign festival representatives, distributors, producers, sales agents and contemporary cinema stars. We started in 2021 with a single event, and in 2022 we created an expanded section of industry events under the name MDAG Industry. This year we have prepared an extensive programme of activities – the next step in the documentary industry's development. CANAL+ Polska joins the list of Millennium Docs Against Gravity partners and takes the MDAG Industry section under its patronage.
"The cooperation between CANAL+ Poland and initiatives supporting local documentary productions has a long history. We are proud to support creative directors and tell real stories from the world around us. Our productions and documentary co-productions, which have won numerous awards at Polish and international festivals, can be viewed on the CANAL+ online platform. Being a part of the MDAG festival and a partner of the INDUSTRY section is a great opportunity for us to spot new, interesting topics and exceptional filmmakers. We are very excited to be able to present the award for the best international pitching during this year's edition. We support those who tell stories, and do it well," – says Katarzyna Kostecka, documentary producer at CANAL+ Poland.
The 20th edition of MDAG will take place on 12-21 May 2023 in cinemas in eight Polish cities – Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin – and online from 23 May to 4 June on the mdag.pl platform. The titular patron of the festival is Bank Millennium (www.bankmillennium.pl).