Gdynia Film Festival 2014 Day 6: Closing Ceremony and Awards

Analysis of the winners and losers at Saturday night’s Gdynia Film Festival closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony and prize-giving of the 39th Gdynia Film Festival took place on Saturday night on the Main Stage of the city’s Musical Theatre, the site of many of the memorable screenings and premieres held across the festival’s jam-packed, exhilarating six days.

Punctuated beautifully by live orchestra performances of Wojciech Kilar film scores (as a tribute to the iconic composer who died last December), the slickly-staged two-hour event proved most delightful. Not all of the decisions made by the international jury were what I would have hoped for myself. But the results certainly reflected the panel’s intention to reward as wide a range of films as possible: an appropriate approach, perhaps, in a year which yielded no one masterpiece but rather a selection of diverse, interesting and sometimes provocative works, from the traditional to the wildly experimental.

Of the 13 features competing for the "Golden Lions" in the Main Competition, only four went without recognition of some kind. This unlucky quartet were Grzegorz Jaroszuk’s Kebab & Horoscope (the only one of the Main Competition films that I missed), Lech Majewski’s Field of Dogs (which polarised viewers but which I thought to be as close to a work of genius as anything I saw in the festival), Grzegorz Krolikiewicz’s bizarre Neighbours (Saisady), and Magdalena Piekorz’s risible Close-Ups (Zblizenia).

I was especially pleased to see the Best Directing Debut and Best Cinematography awards go to Krzysztof Skonieczny’s Hardkor Disko. Here’s hoping that this recognition will help ensure a wider distribution for this distinctive and disturbing first feature which, in addition, won Jasmina Polak the Best Acting Debut prize, an award shared this year with Sebastian Fabianski for his roles in Waterline and Miasto 44.

Awards for Best Sound and Special Effects to Miasto 44 and Best Costumes to Jack Strong (which also scooped the Best Director prize for Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s sterling, highly polished work), were also worthy choices. And while the self-conscious, jerky rhythms of Wojciech Smarzowski’s The Mighty Angel left me pretty cold, the picture’s calling-attention-to-itself construction evidently impressed the jury enough to give the film the Best Editing prize. In addition, Smarzowski’s film won one of the two “Silver Lions” prizes, the other going to Jerzy Stuhr’s well-liked (though not particularly by me) The Citizen.

Supporting Actor Prizes went, deservedly, to Elena Babenko for her intense and troubling turn as the mother in The Photographer, and to fest favourite Dawid Ogrodnik as the stepfather in The Word.

Some of the other choices I found more problematic. I was especially baffled to see the Best Screenplay award go to Gods, an uneven piece of writing to say the least, and the film’s scooping of the Golden Lion for Best Picture was also surprising. Clearly, this is a film with a lot of audience goodwill towards it, as evidenced by the wildly enthusiastic response that greeted Tomasz Kot’s more deserved winning of the Best Actor prize at the ceremony. But the film’s uncertainties of tone make it an unworthy winner, in my opinion.

If a more populist choice had to be made, I would have preferred the main prize to go to Miasto 44. It's not a perfect picture by any means, but it has an undeniable force and a true sense of filmmaking excitement to it. In choosing the smaller-scaled (though still Polish-hero-celebrating) Gods over the mighty Miasto 44 it’s hard not to speculate that the jury were showing themselves to be unswayed by the awesome scale and spectacle of Komasa’s film, the most expensive in Polish cinema history.

That being said, there was a further surprise in the Best Actress category, won by Zofia Wichlacz for her performance as Biedronka in Komasa's film. It’s hard to begrudge this young actress the prize for her committed, bravura display in this most intensely physical of movies, yet it might be felt that Jowita Budnik’s subtly modulated performance in Waterline was a worthier winner.

However, I was very happy to see the “Visions Apart” Audience Award go to Grzegorz Jankowski’s Polish Shit -- a delightfully disreputable crowd-pleaser if ever there was one -- while the Young Cinema Competition -- a strand highlighted by new Artistic Director Michal Oleszczyk this year -- was won by Vahram Mkhitaryan’s Milky Brother (Mleczny brat).

In summing up, jury president Ryszard Bugajski claimed that the quality of Polish film production was considerably higher now than it was when he last served on the jury at the festival: a year in which no film was considered strong enough to win a "Best Picture" prize. While, as noted above, no one movie emerged as a clear favourite this year (as happened last year with Pawel Pawlikowsi’s very-likely-Oscar-bound Ida) Gdynia 39 nonetheless demonstrated the vibrancy of contemporary Polish cinema, and boasted a significant number of works (both mainstream and avant garde) that deserve to find audiences beyond the country’s borders.

Next year, the festival turns 40. With several significant changes afoot, and the evolving vision of the excellent Oleszczyk at the helm, Gdynia 2015 will be a festival to excitedly anticipate.

A full list of all winners can be found at Gdynia Film Festival 2014 .






The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.


A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.