Intimate coming-of-age documentary revealing harsh realities of Chopin Piano Competition to premiere at Sundance Film Festival
A documentary film that transports viewers into the high-stakes world of the Chopin Piano Competition will receive its premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this Friday.
Directed by Polish filmmaker Jakub Piątek, the film offers an intimate and gripping portrait of young pianists' entry into adulthood as they compete in one of the world's most cutthroat piano competitions.
Through exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, the film offers a rare glimpse into the intense pressure, sacrifices and dedication required to be a successful classical musician, all set to the beautiful and powerful music of Fryderyk Chopin.
The competition, held every five years in Warsaw, is a career launchpad for some of classical music's most successful artists. Since 1927, the best young pianists from all over the world have tried their hand at this, one of the few monographic competitions in the world.
In all phases of the competition, only works by Fryderyk Chopin are played. The competition is extremely difficult, with 160 male and female pianists starting in the preliminary round, 90 in the next round, 45 in the next and only the top 12 performers make it to the final.
Piątek's camera accompanies a select group of musicians from all over the world as they prepare to take part in the Chopin Competition.
Through the film, viewers are given a rare opportunity to look behind the scenes of the Chopin Competition, where they will witness triumphant highs and painful lows.
The distributor’s description reads: “Offering a rare behind-the-scenes look backstage at the triumphant highs and crushing lows of competition, filmmaker Jakub Piątek captures the intense pressure these musicians face in an experience that combines tears of exhaustion and despair with the ecstatic joy of playing.”
The film promises to give an exclusive look into the lives of young pianists who have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting their craft.
We see the sacrifices they've made and the intense pressure they're under to perform at their best.
The film also shows the emotional toll that the competition takes on the pianists as they put everything on the line for a chance to win.
Though much of the action of course takes place in Warsaw, the director also takes us to China, Russia and Italy to show the daily life of the competition's protagonists.
The film is not just a showcase of the competition and its participants but also a commentary on the nature of classical music competitions and what it takes to be a successful musician.
Piątek explores the themes of pressure, sacrifice, and dedication that are required to be a successful classical musician. It also showcases the beauty and power of Chopin’s music and how it can transcend language barriers and cultural differences.
"Pianoforte" will be presented in the World Cinema Documentary Competition on January 20th at Sundance, a festival that is known for showcasing innovative and thought-provoking films.
It will be the second time that one of Piątek's films is shown at the festival, as his TV-studio-based thriller “Prime Time” was also presented at the festival last year.
Jakub Piątek is a graduate of the Łódź Film School. Before studying directing, he worked as a local press journalist and cultural animator. His directorial debut, the short documentary Mother, was screened at more than fifty international film festivals.
The film will be distributed by Millennium Docs Against Gravity in Poland. The first excerpt of the film, shown by the film website Deadline, shows the preparations for the 18th edition of the Chopin Competition, which took place from 2-23 October 2021.
The event was won by Canadian pianist Bruce Liu.