It all started on the island of Bornholm. From 1990 and for ten years we Danes arranged a film festival on this wonderful place in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The name was Balticum Film & TV Festival and the films came from the countries around this Sea, including Poland. During a decade this post-USSR festival became a meeting place for creative documentarians to show films and discuss.

Here I saw ”Hear My Cry” (1991) and ”State of Weightlessness” (1994) by Maciej Drygas and ”89mm from Europe” (1993) ”Anything Can Happen” (1995) by Marcel Lozinski. Just to mention some of the Polish masterpieces which were screened at the old cinema in Gudhjem. It was also here I met the producer Wojtek Szczudlo from Kalejdoskop Film Studio, who became a dear friend, who later joined several workshops that I was in charge of. RIP, dear Wojtek.

After Bornholm I was for years part of the Ex Oriente workshop arranged by the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague and met talents like Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosolowski with their “Rabbit à la Berlin”, a fantastic work that their powerhouse of a producer Anna Wydra managed to bring for an Oscar nomination!

In 2005 I was in the jury of Krakow Film Festival. I was chairing the international jury: 3 out five awards was given to Polish filmmakers – Wojciech Staron’s “The Argentinian Lesson”, Pawel Kloc’s “Phnom Penh Lullaby” with a mention to “Doctors” by Tomasz Wolski.

Why are Polish documentaries so good? Could it be because Polish filmmakers always have an aesthetic choice before shooting starts. They think about form before content, they think about the style of storytelling that could fit this or that theme. They think in images that can carry emotion and information without words. Many directors have developed their film language in short films, like Piotr Stasik with his “7 x Moscow” (2005, 18 mins.), Thierry Paladino with “At the Datcha” (2006, 26mins.) and “Suburban Train” by Maciej Cuske (2005, 18 mins.). Not to forget short doc master Pawel Lozinski, more about him in a coming article. There is a tradtion for shorts in Poland contrary to where I come from.

I am sure that the existence of the Wajda School plays and has played an important role for the development of the Polish documentary. It is indeed impressive what has come out of this school that I have had the chance to visit a couple of times. What else to mention than ”Joanna” (2013) by Aneta Kopacz, beautiful as a film and as a hymn to Life and Love!

Three more female directors who has impressed me deeply: Wiktoria Szymanska whose ”The Man Who Made Angels Fly” (2013) with the puppeteer Michael Meschke is magic, Marta Prus meeting with her protagonist in ”Talk To Me” (2015) and Karolina Bielawska’s ”Call me Marianna”. For that no presentation needed, awarded all over the world, and now to be screened here at DocsBarcelona, where these words are written. See you in Krakow!


Tue Steen Müller

for Festival Newspaper -  56. Krakow Film Festival