Polish documentary film is doing really great. Last year, our films were shown at the most important international festivals, where they often received numerous awards and special mentions. It is worth remembering that in addition to many screenings, there were also various kinds of industry meetings, film markets and reviews. All the most important events which happened last year can be found in our summary. We would like to invite you to read it!

Last year brought almost 400 screenings at 215 international festivals. Our films were invited to the competitions almost 250 times, thanks to which the Polish documentary films won 79 awards and special mentions. 

Last year, the selectors did not favour any of the Polish documentary films. The following films received 18 invitations to film events: "In Touch" by Paweł Ziemilski, "Sisters" by Michał Hytroś, "The Tough" by Marcin Polar and "In A Lion" by Karol Lindholm. Just behind them, with 15 festival screenings each, there were    "Horse Riders"   by Anna Gawlita and    "Connected"     by Aleksandra Maciejczyk. "Dancing For You" by Katarzyna Lesisz, "Shooting stars" by Magdalena Jaroszewicz, "The Briefing" by Filip Drzewiecki and "Unconditional Love" by Rafał Łysak were also doing quite well. 

Over the past 12 months, our films won more awards than in 2018. The film by Michał Hytroś turned out to be unbeatable. "Sisters" won a total of 9 laurels. The second place went to several films: "Still Flying..." by Mirosław Dembiński, "Horse Riders" by Anna Gawlita, "Dam" by Natalia Koniarz, "Unconditional Love" by Rafał Łysak and "Connected" by Aleksandra Maciejczyk.

Similarly to previous years, the Polish documentary films were presented at the most important festivals. There was no lack of them at the Sundance or at the Slamdance, and in the meantime, one of the Polish productions was also included at the Rotterdam festival.  The ZagrebDox, the Clermont Ferrand, the Mecal Pro, the Neisse Film Festival, the Make Dox, the DOC NYC, the Dok Leipzig and IDFA, and these are only some of the film events, at which Polish documentary films were present. Below we write in more detail about the most important events of 2019, at which our films were present.

All fans of good independent cinema may associate the beginning of the year with two important American festivals, held in the state of Utah. There was no lack of Polish documentary films at either of them. "The Tough" by Marcin Polar was invited to the Sundance, and the feature-length "The Beksińskis.  A Sound and Picture Album"     by Marcin Borchardt represented us at the Slamdance. At the same time in Europe, there was also a lot of going on. Our documentary films appeared in the programmes, among others, of the French FIPADOC, the Estonian DocPoint and at the festival in Rotterdam.    "Dust"     by Jakub Radej continued ist run of good luck from 2018 and received another award to add to its substantial collection. This time, this short documentary film was appreciated at the German festival Zeichen Der Nacht. 

At the turn of January and February, the Hungarian Budapest International Documentary Festival, Hungary was held. The main award in the Naked Hope competition went to the film "Over the Limit" by Marta Prus. In turn, the first half of March brought the award for Paweł Ziemilski and his "In Touch." The documentary film was appreciated at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. At the same time, at the German festival Goeast, the critics honoured "Strip And War" by Andrei Kutsila with the FIPRESCI award.  

At the end of March, the Spanish festival Mecal Pro took place. A large representation of Polish films in the programme at that festival translated into awards. Polish documentary filmmakers brought two statuettes from there. The jury was enchanted by "Their Voices" by Eri Mizutani and "Sisters" by Michał Hytroś. The festival Go Short, held in the Netherlands, also turned out to be very successful for our short documentary films. The winners of the Netherlandish event were Natalia Koniarz with "Dam" and Agata Baumgart with "Love 404.". The first of the aforementioned titles was equally well received at the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer, where it won the special mention. The feature-length documentary film "Diagnosis" also left the capital of Russia with an award. The film by Ewa Podgórska was appreciated for the best editing. 

In April, special mentions went also to "Time Machine" by Jan Bujnowski at the Mostra Internacional de Filmes de Escolas de Cinema in Portugal and to "The Castle" by Tadeusz Kabicz at the Festival International du Documentaire Emergent FIDE in France. In turn, "Horse Riders" by Anna Gawlita were awarded at the Busan International Short Film Festival in South Korea, and "The Symphony of the Ursus Factory" by Jaśmina Wójcik was chosen as the best medium-length documentary film at the Canadian Hot Docs. 

At the beginning of May, another edition of the Neisse Film Festival was held. At the German festival, you could watch several great Polish documentary films. Among them, there were three which were particularly liked by the jury. "Sisters" by Michał Hytroś was chosen as the best short film of the event, "Unconditional Love" as the feature-length one and won the award, and "Compulsory Figures" by Ewa Kochańska left Germany with a special mention. The documentary film by Rafał Łysak was also appreciated at the Ukrainian Molodist International Film Festival Kyiv. The film returned from there with as many as two awards. At the same time,  "I'm Writing to You, My Love" by Magdalena Szymków was nominated to the Focal Awards, and the documentary film study "Family2," directed by Yifan Sun, was included on the shortlist of the student films competing for the prestigious BAFTA 2019 awards.

The end of May and the beginning of June in Polish film community can only be associated with one thing: the Krakow Film Festival, It was there where at the opening, the premiere screening of "The Wind. "A Documentary Thriller" by Michał Bielawski was held, and "Connected" by Aleksandra Maciejczyk won the Silver Dragon in the international short film competition. 

The first half of June turned out to be a very hot period for Polish productions. "Shooting stars" by Magdalena Jaroszewicz was awarded at the Armenian festival ONE SHOT, "In Touch" by Paweł Ziemilski won the great Jury Award at the Icelandic Skjadborg Film Festival 2019, and "I Grew Up As You Slept"  was chosen as the best documentary film of the Shanghai International Film & TV Festival.  This level was also maintained in the second half of the month. Then, the following films won the awards: "Dancing For You"  by Katarzyna Lesisz (the 18th Euganea Film Festival) and "Dam" by Natalia Koniarz (the FEST — New Directors | New Films Festival). Polish documentary films brought as many as four awards from  Estonia. The award-winners of the Pärnu Film Festival were: "Summa" by Andrei Kutsila, "Sing" by Olga Korotkaya, "Casting" by Klaudia Kęska and "Radwan" by Teresa Czepiec. 

Summer holidays are the ideal time for festivals. In Switzerland, the CineGlobe was held, where "Dust" by Jakub Radej turned out to be the best documentary film, in Romania at the Buzau International Film Festival, one of the awards went to "The Dragon Spring" by Jarosław Wszędybył, and at the Somerville International Film Festival in the United States, the best documentary film award went to the director of "Time Machine."  In August, three laurels more were given to "Sisters" by Michał Hytroś. Whereas the short documentary film "Family2" by Yifan Sun was included in the Student Academy Awards finals so that, a month later, it could turn the nomination into the victory.

In September, in Canada, during the Quebec City Film Festival, a large review of Polish short films took place. In the programme of the event, you could also find Polish documentary films. The organisers of "Poland in Focus" were the Krakow Film Foundation and the Canadian festival. At the Message to Man, "Connected" by Aleksandra Maciejczyk was awarded, and at the Atlantic International Film Festival, "Sisters" was chosen as the best documentary film. The film by Michał Hytroś repeated its previous success at the Portuguese BEAST International Film Festival. In turn, "The Case of Johanna Langefeld" by Władysław Jurkow and Geburg Rohde-Dahl won the main award at the international film festival in Canada.

In June, there was a lot going on, but it is autumn when the documentary films reign at international festivals. Only in October, the awards went to such productions as: "Connected" by Aleksandra Maciejczyk (the Drunken Film Fest, Oakland), "Dancing For You" by Katarzyna Lesisz (the CinEast – Central and Eastern European Film Festival), "The Symphony of the Ursus Factory" by Jaśmina Wójcik (the Provinziale FilmFest Eberswalde), "Horse Riders" by Anna Gawlita (the Fano International Film Festival), "Sisters" by Michał Hytroś (the International Short Film Festival Kalmthout’, the STIFF – Student International Film Festival), "Unconditional Love" by Rafał Łysak (the West Lake International Documentary Festival), "In A Lion" by Karol Lindholm (the Ânûû-rû Âboro), "Pure Art" by Maksim Shved (the ArtDoc Fest) and "The Case of Johanna Langefeld" by Władysław Jurkow and Geburg Rohde-Dahl (the Aegean Docs International Documentary Film Festival). And during the DocsMX, as many as two of our films were awarded: "The Wind. A Documentary Thriller" by Michał Bielawski and "Strip And War" by Andrei Kutsila. The producer of the documentary film about the halny wind won the Silver Eye special mention. The award ceremony was held during the festival Ji.Hlava, where the Polish co-production  "Life Could be Beautiful" by  Filip Jacobson and Angelika Herta won in one of the sections.

In November, the award gala of the Dok Leipzig festival was held.  The MDR Film Prize for the best documentary film from Eastern Europe went to the film "The Wind. A Documentary Thriller" by Michał Bielawski. It was not the only award from Germany which went to the Polish documentary films that month. At the festival Kurzfilmfestival Köln, "Shooting stars" by Magdalena Jaroszewicz was appreciated, and at the Interfilm "In A Lion" by Karol Lindholm. The latter film was also awarded at the Lithuanian festival Scanorama. In Norway, the best documentary film of the Ringerike International Youth Film Festival was "One Two Zero" by Anna Pawluczuk, and the similar award, but the one given to short films, went to "Horse Riders" by Anna Gawlita at the Cork Film Festival. In turn, the Jury of the Minsk International Film Festival Listapad awarded "Connected" by Aleksandra Maciejczyk. At the EnergaCAMERIMAGE, held in Torun, one of the awards went to the docudrama "Marek Edelman ... And There Was Love In The Ghetto" by Jolanta Dylewska.

The documentary films "The Last Mountain" by Dariusz Załuski and "The Tough" by Marcin Polar won in their categories at the festival Nordic Adventure Film.

December turned out to be lucky for "Leokadia's Dream" by Krzysztof Nowicki. The documentary film won the audience award at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival. In turn, "19:91" by Emilia Śniegoska won the special mention from the young jury at the 22nd Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People.  This year, the DEFA Foundation honoured a duo of Polish directors. The award for young film-makers went to Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski.

The end of the year also brought awards for the documentary film "Of Animals And Men" by Łukasz Czajka.  The film was appreciated at the Chinese GZDOC 2019 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. The production received the best arthouse film award.  There was no lack of another award for "Horse Riders." The documentary film by Anna Gawlita was appreciated for the best sound at the festival Winter Apricots in Macedonia, and "Dam" by Natalia Koniarz was liked by the jury members at the Sound & Image Challenge International Festival in Macau.

In 2019, in addition to finished films, documentary film projects were also doing quite well, as they were shown and awarded at international industry events: pitchings, discussion forums and co-production meetings. "The Wind. A Documentary Thriller" by Michał Bielawski, was presented in the section Last Stop Trieste, dedicated to the work in progress films during the forum When East Meet West in Trieste, "Globus," directed by Clara Kleininger during the Docs in Thessaloniki, and the project "Abortion is OK" by Paulina Reiter participated in the programme Documentary Campus Masterschool. A large delegation of Polish film producers participated in   the East Doc Platform  – co-production meetings and documentary film project pitchings, organised by the Institute of Documentary Film in Prague. Six projects from Poland participated in the event: Us and Them, dir. Sandeep Rampal Balhara and Wika!, dir. Agnieszka Zwiefka were presented at the East Doc Forum, The Tragic Ones, dir. Jan Stąpor at East Doc Short, and Ordinary Country, dir. Tomasz Wolski, Butterfly child effect, dir. Jarosław Schmidt and A Man with a Fork in a World of Soup, dir. Grzegorz Pacek took part in the East Doc Market.

During the pitching held within the frames of the film market Sunny Side of the Doc, the Polish project "Escape to the Silver Globe," directed by Jakub Mikurd,  was presented. Three projects participated in the forum Baltic Sea Doc in Riga: Unpaved, dir. Mikael Lypinski, Globus, dir. Clara Kleininger and the Polish-Ukrainian co-production Rebbellion, dir.  Keren Chernizon. The project of the film "Lessons of Love" by Małgorzata Goliszewska and Katarzyna Mateja was awarded at the DOK.Incubator. And as many as three Polish projects were invited to participate in the DOK Co-pro Market, held during the DOK Leipzig festival: "Grace" by Eri Mizutani, "Last Expedition" by Eliza Kubarska and "Together" by Marek Kozakiewicz. During the Film Festival Cologne, the second edition of the European Work in Progress was held. One of the awards for the best pitch went to the producer of the documentary film "Grace." 

During this year's edition of the programme Emerging Producers, organised during the Jihlava International Documentary FF, Poland was represented by Łukasz Długołęcki from the company NUR, and at the prestigious IDFA Forum, by the project "Wika!" by Agnieszka Zwiefka. 

In 2019, as many as three Polish documentary projects received the funding from the EACEA: "Man With a VR Camera" by Jacek Nagłowski, Pola Borkiewicz and  Miłosz Hermanowicz, "Balcony Movie. Step into my frame" by Paweł Łoziński and "Wika!” by Agnieszka Zwiefka.

During the East Doc Platform in Prague, the project POLISH DOCS PRO was initiated, the aim of which is to promote Polish documentary film industry at the international film events. The project is run by the Krakow Film Foundation in co-operation with the Polish Television and the Doc Lab Poland and with the support of the Polish Film Institute. Within the frames of the project, there were networking events and presentations of Polish documentary films at the Visions du Reel in Nyon, Switzerland, at the Doc/Fest Sheffield Marketplace in Great Britain,  at the DOK Co-Pro Market in Leipzig and at the IDFA Forum in Amsterdam, in all of which the delegations of Polish producers took part, and the national stall of the Polish Docs Pro was organised at the film market Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle – the largest documentary film market in Europe. As every year, for the thirteenth time on the Polish stall, the latest Polish documentary films were promoted, and accredited producers had a chance to look for money to spend on their projects and to widen their international contacts. 

Traditionally, the KFF prepared the Polish film programmes Polish Docs at the documentary film market Doc Shop, at the Hot Docs festival in Canada, at the Docs for Sale at IDFA in the Netherlands, at the Doc Market at Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece, at the Doc Outlook at Visions du Reel in Switzerland, at the East Silver in the Czech Republic and at the DOK Market at DOK Leipzig in Germany. Within the frames of the DOK Leipzig, there was also, organised by the KFF in co-operation with the Doc Lab Poland, the meeting with the most important representatives of documentary film industry: the Polish Docs  Pro Dinner, and during the IDFA, the Polish Docs, together with the Doc Lab Poland and the HBO Europe, was the host of the Guests Meet Guests, prepared for several hundred of festival guests.

The events organised or co-organised by the KFF were held thanks to the support of the Polish Film Institute, the Krakow Festival Office, the Krakow Film Commission, as well as international partners: the IDFA, the Hot Docs, the DOK Leipzig, the Clermont-Ferrand, the EDN, the Sundance Institute, the Institute of Documentary Films, the Thessaloniki IDFF, the Visions du Reel, the CPH:DOX, the Quebec City FF and the Sunny Side of the Doc.


19.91, dir. Emilia Śniegoska

The 22nd Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, Greece - the Special Mention

Casting, dir. Klaudia Kęska

The 33rd Pärnu Film Festival in Pärnu, Estonia - the Best Student Film

Connected, dir. Aleksandra Maciejczyk

The IFF Message to Man, Russia - the Best Short Documentary

The Drunken Film Fest, Oakland, the USA - the Best Documentary

The Minsk IFF Listapad, Belarus - the Special Mention

The 59th Krakow Film Festival, Poland, - the Silver Dragon

Pure Art, dir. Maksim Shved

The ArtDoc Fest, 2019, Russia - the Best Director

Dam, dir. Natalia Koniarz

The Go Short, the Netherlands - The Encouragement Award

The Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer, Russia - the Special Mention

The FEST — New Directors | New Films Festival, Portugal - the Honorable mention

The Sound & Image Challenge International Festival, Macau, China - the Best Documentary

Dancing For You, dir. Katarzyna Lesisz

The 18th Euganea Film Festival, Italy - the Special Mention

The CinEast - Central and Eastern European Film Festival, Luxembourg - the Audience Award For The Best Short Documentary Film

Diagnosis, dir. Ewa Podgórska

The Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer, Russia - the Best Editing

Family2, dir. Yifan Sun

The Student Academy Award 2019, the USA - the Best Documentary (International Film School)

The Tough, dir. Marcin Polar

The Nordic Adventure Film Festival, Denmark - the Best Short Film of the Year

In Touch, dir. Paweł Ziemilski

The 21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece - the Human Values Award

The Skjadborg Film Festival 2019, Iceland  - the Grand Jury Prize

Compulsory Figures, dir. Ewa Kochańska

The Neisse Film Festival 2019, Germany –  the Special Mention

Still Flying.., dir. Mirosław Dembiński

The International Alpine Film Festival "FIFAD," Switzerland - the Prix du Lions Club Chablais

The Bratislava Mountain and Adventure Film Festival, Slovakia -  the V4 Award

The Krasnogorski International Festival of Sport Movies, Russia -  the Best Hero 

The Mountainfilm Graz, Austria - the Special Mention 

Horse Riders, dir. Anna Gawlita

The Busan International Short Film Festival, South Korea - the Jury Award

The Fano International Film Festival, Italy - the Best Documentary

The Cork Film Festival, Ireland - the Grand Prix

The Winter Apricots: Prilep International Film Festival 2019, Macedonia - the Best Sound

Life Could Be Beautiful, dir. Filip Jacobson, Angelika Herta 

The 23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, 2019, the Czech Republic - the Best Central and East European Documentary Student Film

Love 404, dir. Agata Baumgart

The Go Short, the Netherlands - the Best Documentary

Marek Edelman ... And There Was Love In The Ghetto, dir. Jolanta Dylewska

The Camerimage IFF, Poland, 2019 - the Golden Frog For the Best Docudrama

Unconditional Love, dir. Rafał Łysak

The Neisse Film Festival, Germany - the Best Documentary (The City of Zittau Award)

The 48th edition of Molodist International Film Festival Kyiv, Ukraine - the Best Short Film, the Audience Award

The West Lake International Documentary Festival,  China - the D20 Filmmaker of the Year

The Last Mountain, dir. Dariusz Załuski

The Nordic Adventure FF, Denmark, 2019 - the Best Film Of The Year

Over the Limit, dir. Marta Prus

The Budapest International Documentary Festival, Hungary - the Main Award in Naked Hope Competition

Of Animals And Men, dir. Łukasz Czajka

The Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, China - the Best Art Doc Award

I'm writing to you, my love, dir. Magdalena Szymków

The Focal Awards 2019, Great Britain - the Nomination for the Best Use of Footage in a Short Film Production

Dust, dir. Jakub Radej

The 17th Internationales Festival Zeichen Der Nacht, Germany - the Signs Award

The CineGlobe, Switzerland - the Best Documentary

Their Voices, dir. Eri Mizutani

The 21st Mecal Pro, Barcelona International Short and Animation Festival, Spain - the 2nd Jury Prize

The Case of Johanna Langefeld, dir. Władysław Jurkow, Geburg Rohde-Dahl 

The RIFFA 2019, Canada - the Best International Documentary 

The Aegean Docs International Documentary Film Festival, Greece - the Best Foreign Film Award

Stopover, dir. Joanna Brodawka-Zygmunt

The Great Message International Film Festival, India - the Best Message Award

Radwan, dir. Teresa Czepiec

The 33rd Pärnu Film Festival in Pärnu, Estonia - the Best Short Film

One Two Zero, dir. Anna Pawluczuk

The Ringerike International Youth Film Festival, Norway - the Best Documentary

Leocadia's Dream, dir. Krzysztof Nowicki

The 4th Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Spain - the Audience Award

Shooting Stars, dir. Magda Jaroszewicz

The ONE SHOT 17th International Short Film Festival Yerevan - the Special Mention

The Kurzfilmfestival Köln 2019, Germany - the 2nd Jury Prize

Sisters, dir. Michał Hytroś

The 21st Mecal Pro, Barcelona International Short and Animation Festival, Spain - the Grand Jury Prize

The Neisse Film Festival, Germany - the Best Short Film

The 19th International Film Schools Festival, Uruguay - the Best Documentary

The CIELECT Prize France - the Best Student Documentary, France  - the Best Student Documentary

The 3rd Cinalfama Lisbon International Film Festival, Portugal - the Special Mention

The Atlantic International Film Festival, Colombia - the Best Documentary

The BEAST International Film Festival, Portugal - the Best documentary film

The International Short Film Festival Kalmthout ', Belgium - the Best documentary short

STIFF - the Student International Film Festival, Croatia - the STIFF Best Documentary Award

Strip And War, dir. Andrei Kutsila

The Goeast 2019, Germany - the Film Critic'S Award - FIPRESCI

The DocsMX, Mexico - the Special Mention

The Minsk IFF Listapad, Belarus – the Special Mention

Summa, dir. Andrei Kutsila

The 33rd Pärnu Film Festival in Pärnu, Estonia - the Grand Prize

The Minsk IFF Listapad, Belarus - the Best Documentary Film Award

The Symphony of the Ursus Factory, dir. Jaśmina Wójcik

The Hot Docs, Canada -  the Best Mid-Length Documentary Award

The Provinziale FilmFest Eberswalde, Germany - the Best Documentary Film Provinziale

Sing, dir. Olga Korotkaya

The 33rd Pärnu Film Festival in Pärnu, Estonia - the Best Music Doc

I Grew Up as You Slept, dir. Marcin Sauter

The Shanghai International Film & TV Festival 2019, China - the Best Documentary

Time Machine, dir. Jan Bujnowski

The 4th Somerville International Film Festival, the USA - the Best Documentary Film

The 8th Prokuplje Short Film Festival, Serbia - the Best Documentary Film

The 16th MIFEC - Mostra Internacional de Filmes de Escolas de Cinema, Portugal -  the Honorable Mention

The Wind. A Documentary Thriller, dir. Michał Bielawski

The DocsMX, Mexico - the Best Documentary in 'Human Latitudes' category

The DOK Leipzig, Germany - the MDR Film Prize

The Silver Eye Award, the Czech Republic - the Special Mention

The Dragon Spring, dir. Jarosław Wszędybył

The Buzau International Film Festival, Romania - the Trofeul Real BUZZ

In A Lion, dir. Karol Lindholm

The Ânûû-rû Âboro, New Caledonia - the Best International Short Film Award

interfilm - the 35th International Short Film Festival, Germany - the Best Environmental Film

The 17th European Film Forum SCANORAMA 2019, Lithuania - the Special Mention

The Castle, dir. Tadeusz Kabicz

The 11th Festival International du Documentaire Emergent FIDE, France - the Special Mention

*data collected on the basis of the information received from producers, filmmakers and festivals by the Polish Docs. If you know about foreign awards for Polish documentary films which are not included in this summary, we would like to ask you to send a message to the editors of the portal: redakcja@polishdocs.pl