PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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 .

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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