Although the Polish Competition does not have a long tradition at Millennium Docs Against Gravity, it has fast become a platform for a unique encounter with the domestic documentary cinema. The films presented in the competition form a diverse set of fascinating and moving stories. We reveal the first titles which will compete for the Best Polish Film Award, the Smakjam Award for the Best Production in a Polish Film and The Studio Cinemas Association Award in the Polish Competition!
One of the most anticipated films of this year's festival is Angels of Sinjar by Academy-and Emmy-Award nominee Hanna Polak. Hanifa barely survived the hell that ISIS inflicted on them and their people. She was able to escape kidnapping, but her five younger sisters were enslaved by the Islamic State and taken to points unknown. The protagonist decides to embark on a heroic, deadly mission to find the girls and bring them home. Angels of Sinjar is a heartrending cry for justice. An exposé of a terrible crime against humanity, it reveals the horrors of a forgotten genocide and the people who are denied all of their rights. The film has also been selected for the festival's Main Competition, where it will compete for the Grand Prix Bank Millennium Award. The film has been co-produced by HBO Max.
The life of a local community is the subject of a moving, full of humour film The Pawnshop, dir. Łukasz Kowalski. This story about people who struggle to survive while helping those in bigger need will certainly captivate the hearts of the festival audience. Jola and Wiesiek are an eccentric couple from Bytom, tied up in love as well as in business. With the help of three employees, they run what is probably the largest pawnshop in Europe. However, its glory days passed once the local mines closed and unemployment began to rise. Left destitute, the inhabitants of 'the Polish Detroit' bring zillions of absurd and useless objects to pawn for cash. Even though the pawnshop loses money, it becomes an important centre of social life for the local community. Soon, it goes nearly bankrupt, while the relationship of Jola and Wiesiek is put to the test. With a disaster looming on the horizon, the owners make the final attempt to save their company and couple. The film has been selected for the Main Competition and nominated by Millennium Docs Against Gravity for the prestigious Doc Alliance award, presented by the association the seven most prestigious European film festivals.
Love and the challenges that come with it are the central theme of the film Silent Love, directed by Marek Kozakiewicz. After their mother’s death, 35 year-old Aga starts to look after her teenage brother, Miłosz. She starts playing the role of both parents to him, but there is one thing she’s keeping a secret from him – her romantic relationship with Maja. Will the three of them manage to build a new family model in the midst of a conservative small town community?
Among the Polish films presented at the festival, there will also be stories of famous people known for their artistic or scientific achievements. Flight, directed by Anna Zakrzewska and Łukasz Ronduda, is a portrait of Roman Stanczak, legendary performer and sculptor of the 90s. Stańczak has been exploring ways to kill his inner bourgeois, making him the most uncompromising artist of his generation. But being a true rebel comes with a cost. After decades of absence, Stańczak gets a chance to reemerge in the art world – he is asked to prepare the Polish pavillon for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Torn and conflicted, he also has to face the damage in his personal life. Meanwhile Simona, dir. Natalia Koryncka-Gruz, Ida, the grandniece of Simona Kossak, travels to the Białowieża Forest. She is the heir of Lech Wilczek – Simona Kossak’s partner and the author of numerous pictures documenting their life together. Sorting through the photos left by Wilczek, Ida uncovers stories from the life he had with Simona, captured in the photographs and their friends’ memories. In the film we explore the magical world of the primeval and the present day Białowieża Forest.
The remaining films qualified for the Polish Competition will be announced soon.
Millennium Docs Against Gravity will take place on May 13-22 in eight cities: Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Lublin, Bydgoszcz and for the first time in Łódź! The online part at mdag.pl will last from May 24 to June 5. The titular sponsor of the festival is Bank Millennium (www.bankmillennium.pl).