Culture in Poznań



Cinema, war, nature

Between 18 and 23 October, the organisers, documentary filmmakers, guests and film experts will meet in the Zamek Cultural Centre to discuss the rapid social, geopolitical, and environmental changes taking place in today's world. The OFF CINEMA Documentary Film Festival will be held in Poznań for the 26th time.

The interior of a hall with destroyed screen on the wall. Under the screen there is a stage with a small TV sat on it. In front of the stage 8 chairs. The whole hall is messy. - grafika artykułu
Screen capture from the film "Mariupol". Photographs courtesy of the organisers.

With changes in today's world in the spotlight, the eight thematic sections had to include one focused on developments unfolding beyond Poland's eastern border. The Very Near East section presents the broadest perspective of people living in areas affected by Russian aggression: their experience, fears, hopes, and last but not least, their endangered culture. Needless to say, the section has, at its heart, films by producers shooting their films on site in Ukraine. These include the unique duology Mariupol and Mariupol 2 centred on the daily hardships of life in this city in the Donetsk that has been besieged and largely devastated in wartime operations. The director Mantas Kvedaravičius of Lithuanian descent was killed in Mariupol by Russian shelling on 30 March of this year while shooting the second part of the film.

The section is completed with documentaries from Poland (The Hamlet Syndrome by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski) and Belarus. The Belarusian filmmaker Andrei Kutsila will personally tell the festival audience about the creation of the documentary When Flowers Are Not Silent, which barred him from returning to his home country. Appearing as special guest, Yuliia Antypova, the manager of the Zvohten cinema in Kiev, will meet the audience to describe the details of cinema operations during a raging war.

One of today's most burning issues is human impact on the environment and our planet's condition. These very topics are tackled by the Eco Doc section focused on nature and ecology. In it, filmmakers shed light not only on the threats posed to the ecosystem of which we are all a part but also on ways to understand it and on how to achieve harmony with nature. Notable examples of such productions include the award-winning documentary Cow by Andrea Arnold (after the screening, its photographer Maciej Fiszer will talk about the life of these spotted creatures) and the film Simona, directed by Natalia Koryncka-Gruz, portraying the life of Simona Kossak who died in 2007 after she rose to fame for her exceptional sensitivity to the Białowieża Forest and her relentless efforts to protect nature.

Mountain Docs will complement and elaborate the festival's thematic scope. The secrets, majesty, and inaccessibility of mountains have fascinated and drawn people for centuries. The best known summits pique people's thirst for adventure and drive them to take risks. They are a microcosm that acts as a lens highlighting matters essential for humanity: people's dreams, passions, goals, experiences as well as their fears, pain, suffering, defeats and fiascos. Audiences will learn about the climber Tom Ballard, whose life was snuffed out by Mount Nanga Parbat in 2019 (The Last Mountain by Chris Terrill), and of Quinn Brett, whose accident at the peak of her climbing career left her paralyzed from the waist down. She faced the challenge not only of recovering, but also of redefining her own identity (An Accidental Life by Henny Taylor).

As always, a key part of the festival are the documentary Classics featuring highly acclaimed, ground-breaking and most prominent productions. This time, the section will include pictures cantered on the United States. Their central figure is Godfrey Reggio, a monk turned social activist bringing help to the poor and re-educating youth living on gang-riddled streets, finally to become a screenwriter and director. Off Cinema will present his famous trilogy Qatsi that took a quarter of a century to complete, whose parts, Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance), Powaqqatsi (Life in Transormation) and Naqoyqatsi (Life as War), are unique documentaries that wordlessly discuss the modern world, the media and globalisation to an outstanding soundtrack by Philip Glass.

The Films About Films section will allow the viewer to learn about film industry curiosities and secrets. Peter Middleton and James Spinney's The Real Charlie Chaplin will present well and lesser known facts from the life of the titular superstar comedian, an unrepentant enemy of talkie cinema, the maker of City Lights and The Great Dictator. After the success of an adaptation by Denis Villeneuve, it will also be worth returning to Jodorowsky's Dune by Frank Pavich, a documentary about the making of perhaps the most famous film in the history of cinema that has never been completed. A real treat for festivalgoers is a documentary by Giuseppe Tornatory on the film music legend Ennio Morricone, the composer of soundtracks of over five hundred films who had collaborated with such greats as Sergio Leone, Bernard Bertolucci, Brian De Palma, Quentin Tarantino and many others. His film Ennio will be screened at the Poznań Academy of Music.

Those audience members who consider film audio equally important as the visuals will no doubt enjoy pictures from the Sound of Docs section. The documentary Oh, It Hertz! by Gunnar Hall Jensen of Norway focuses on just that: the fascinating world of sound. Some of the stories it addresses concern the sound frequency that enabled the Nazis to manipulate people, a drummer who, despite losing her hearing, did not give up her passion for music, and a scientist who converted sounds to mathematical formulas.

In addition to the thematic sections, OFF CINEMA will show the season's most prominent documentaries released in theatres. Special screenings and accompanying literary meetings are in store. To ensure accessibility for everyone, the festival will offer audio descriptions and sign language interpretation at meetings.

Adam Horowski

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

26th OFF CINEMA Documentary Film Festival

18-23 October

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© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2022