The anniversary 20th edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity, the largest Polish film festival, will be held on May 12-21 in cinemas across eight Polish cities (Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin) and from May 23 to June 4 online at mdag.pl! As per usual, the unforgettable film adventures will be accompanied by meetings with creators and heroes, as well as debates around important issues tackled on the big screen. This year, for the first time in the festival's history, we will present a "safe space" - an inclusive space for talking about psychology and sexuality. There will also be available counselling for all those who have felt particularly affected by the festival films. The space will be located in Warsaw's Kinoteka.
The theme of this year's edition of MDAG is "Do not be indifferent" and refers to the famous speech of Marian Turski. The phrase has also become the slogan of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising organised by the POLIN Museum. These words correspond with the mission of Millennium Docs Against Gravity and the film program presented at the festival over the years. “Do not be indifferent” is an expression of the values that have accompanied the festival since its inception - being attentive and sensitive (also linguistically) to the people around us.
This year, our thoughts remain with the Ukrainians suffering from the Russian attack, which is why the program includes films examining various aspects of the invasion. "In the Rearview" by Maciek Hamela tells the story of the beginning of the Russian aggression in 2022. People suspended in time and space decide to abandon all that they cherish and without second thought get into a dusty van of the film’s director. The car travels thousands of kilometres, performing various functions along the way: a waiting room, a hospital, a shelter, and above all, a safe space for vulnerability and confessions. The scale of devastation caused by the war as well as the attempt to return to normalcy in the liberated areas are the subject of focus for Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski in the film "In Ukraine”. Alisa Kovalenko's film "We Will Not Fade Away" takes on a whole new dimension in the face of the Russian invasion of 2022. We're back in 2019 and observe five teenage protagonists enter adulthood and begin to think about their future. Alisa Kovalenko is not interested in making a film about the horrors of war. Instead, thanks to its main characters, it’s a coming-of-age story full of hope and beauty.
The 20th edition of the festival is a perfect opportunity to return to the most important titles of the last two decades but also look closer at the present thanks to new sections in the programme. 20 legendary films for MDAG's 20th anniversary! is the section featuring works that have made a special contribution to the history of Millennium Docs Against Gravity and documentary cinema at large. All the films have been personally selected by the director and founder of the festival - Artur Liebhart. 10 of them will be shown in cinemas and 10 will be available online as part of the festival. The Power of Sisterhood features films of solidarity, creating safe spaces, finding your way and collective action of women around the world against violence and inequality. Se_x Work is a section devoted to porn and sex work, We're Here, We're Queer answers the questions about the quality of life of LGBTQ+ people in different parts of the world, while The Power of Words is a look at the works and lives of the greatest figures in the literary world, such as Elfriede Jelinek, Annie Ernaux, Stanisław Lem, Guy Debord and Umberto Eco. The What the Doc?! section features unusual stories that amaze, amuse but can also terrify. The Cinéma, Mon Amour section is back to once again show the most important directors of contemporary cinema and the responsibility of documentary filmmakers to their heroes. During the festival, a selection of the most interesting VR experiences will be presented under the name Reality Check.
During this year's retrospective titled "When the moon shines through the door", MDAG will present the film works of Trinh T. Minh-ha, a Vietnamese-born director, writer, composer, theoretician and professor working in the USA. The five films screened as part of the retrospective deal with topics related to identity, cultural belonging as well as feminist and postcolonial theory.
The festival will also feature films by established filmmakers and hits from the world's biggest festivals. The legendary Werner Herzog returns with Theater of Thought, in which he explores the one place on Earth he has yet to visit - the human brain, while asking questions about the role of neuroscience in the modern world. Laura Poitras’s ("Citizenfour") "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" will be presented to the Polish audiences for the first time. The film won the main prize at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar®. This is the story of Nan Goldin - a photographer who gained recognition documenting the lives of LGBT+ people in the United States and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, and is now battling a pharmaceutical giant responsible for the opioid crisis. Anna Hints, winner of the Sundance directing award, will invite the audiences to the Estonian sauna in the film "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood". The titular sauna serves as a place for women to share their most intimate stories and experiences. The program also includes the winner of the IDFA festival - "Apolonia, Apolonia '' by Lea Glob. It is an intimate portrait of the painter Apolonia Sokol, who fights for her place in the art world. The master of documentary cinema Nikolaus Geyrhalter, through suggestive images, shows the global scale of the problem with overproduction of garbage in "Matter Out of Place".
This year, the Polish documentary cinema will have a strong representation at the festival and most films can be found in the Polish Competition. Among the films that will compete for the title of the Best Polish Film are the latest productions by well-known directors - in the film "Vika!" Agnieszka Zwiefka follows the oldest Polish DJ and her extraordinary energy and struggles with her slowly weakening body. Jakub Piątek will present his latest film "Pianoforte", which premiered at Sundance. It is a suspenseful and gripping story about the participants of the Chopin Competition that feels more like a thriller. Kuba Mikurda, two time winner of the Chopin's Nose at the MDAG, returns to the festival to present the audience with a fresh look at Stanisław Lem's Solaris in the film “Solaris Mon Amour”.
The 20th Millennium Docs Against Gravity will be a fascinating journey not only around the world, but also through many relevant issues - from ecology, through politics, psychology, human rights, art (also avant-garde), pop culture to family relations.