Poland’s film industry is booming and fast becoming the next big thing!
Poland’s film industry is braced for another big year amid growing recognition of the country’s increasing profile as a production hub.
Coinciding with a Poland-specific report covering production guidelines issued by Dentons, the world’s largest legal practice, it’s been disclosed that last year saw the Polish Film Institute subsidise over 30 audio-visual projects to the tune of PLN 112 million.
Based around an indirect tax benefit mechanism that reimburses 30% of eligible costs racked up in Poland, beneficiaries included Oderbruch, produced by CBS Studios and Syrreal Entertainment, and international co-productions such as Joika starring Diane Kruger and Talia Ryder.
“Poland offers modern facilities and film-making infrastructure along with versatile film-making crews that are widely recognized for their skills by foreign producers,” write Dentons, before continuing: “The Polish landscape and architecture add to Poland’s attraction as a location.”
In total, six international co-productions were backed by PIF last year, a point also noted by the planet’s leading film and showbiz magazine, Variety.
Speaking to the magazine, producer Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska of Mandants, said: “More and more established filmmakers who used to look for collaborators in Romania or Hungary are now coming to Poland – mostly because we are backed by concrete institutions and there is money.”
Also, she added, was the country’s growing stock among industry professionals. “Our crews speak English and work abroad,” she said. “We are visible internationally.”
Going on to describe Poland as “on the right track” and “finally catching up with the world”, Śmieja-Rostworowska’s positive appraisal has been backed by Ewa Puszczyńska of Extreme Emotions.
“The A-list is not afraid of Poland anymore,” she told Variety. “We are actively making these connections as well, but it’s no longer one-sided.
“People noticed that we know what we are doing. Everyone is looking for money, cheaper locations, and our country can stand in for Berlin, like in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, or for that ‘Parisian’ street in Cold War.”
Despite Poland’s rich film heritage, not to mention the success of Poland-located critically acclaimed blockbusters such as Schindler’s List and The Pianist, it is Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida that has found itself named as the watershed moment when it comes to Poland’s modern cinematic profile.
Released in 2013, and subsequently winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film as well as gongs from the European Film Academy and British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Pawlikowski’s sensitive drama has been cited as a touchstone moment.
“We keep talking about emotions in films, but we can’t forget about the form either, about innovation,” said Puszczyńska. “Thanks to Paweł’s Ida, we got our foot in the door and we are not planning to close it.”
As things stand, hype is growing around Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, based around the 2014 Martin Ames book of the same name. Shot entirely in Poland, it tells the story of a Nazi officer who falls in love with the wife of the Auschwitz camp commandant.
Due to premier this year, the film has already been tipped for big things.
This, though, is not the only film that has aroused curiosity. Billed as the first ever collaboration between Poland, Singapore and Taiwan, Pierce is currently in the pre-production stage.
Directed by Nelicia Low, the IMDB teaser reveals a tense and riveting thriller: “When his dangerous older brother is released from prison,” it reads, “high school fencer Jie helps him, defying their mother's attempts to bury his existence.”
Others to watch for, meanwhile, include Anxiety (Poland, Germany and Switzerland) and Mammalia (Poland, Romania, Germany). Directed by Sebastian Mihailescu, it debuted at February’s Berlin International Film Festival.
Combining drama with elements of mystery and comedy, the film offers “a surreal journey through the crisis of masculinity” and was nominated for the festival’s Caligari Film Award.
Likewise enjoying its public debut at the Berlin International Film Festival, Delegation follows three Israeli high school students as they visit the Holocaust sites of Poland whilst simultaneously struggling with “the hormonal storm accompanying adolescence.”
Much excitement, too, has been reserved for upcoming projects, not least Paweł Pawlikowski’s Island. Shooting in May, Hollywood royalty Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara will star in a film set in the 1930s.
According to the official spiel, “it follows an attractive American couple who turn their backs on their daily grind to instead start life anew on an isolated island. Building their own private paradise, their happiness is disrupted after their story is leaked by a millionaire passing on his yacht.”
Further squaring out the diversity of these upcoming projects, film fans can also anticipate a slew of Polish co-produced documentaries, many of which will place the war in Ukraine under the scrutinous eye of the camera.
Fuelled by Poland’s proximity to the war-torn country, not to mention the collective sense of national outrage at Russia’s aggression, these promise a fascinating new perspective such as that offered by the Polish-British production, Danger Zone.
Inspired after seeing a sign offering “cheap tours to the frontline”, the documentary will see Lithuanian director Vita Maria Drygas explore the seamy world of extreme war tourism. Co-funded by PIF, this one-of-a-kind documentary is an uncompromising look at those that lurk and revel in this shadowy demi-monde.