New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes With Five Films in Progress

Christopher Vourlias

CANNES  —  Buoyed by a wave of international successes, including Pawel Pawlikowski’s 2019 foreign-language Oscar nominee “Cold War,” Polish cinema will get a fitting showcase Sunday morning with the presentation of five new projects at New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes.

Organized in conjunction with the Polish Film Institute, Polish Days is the most important industry event of the New Horizons Intl. Film Festival. Each year roughly 25 new Polish projects are presented at the festival in Wroclaw to a packed house of producers, sales agents, festival programmers, funding bodies, and other industry representatives from around the globe.

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Weronika Czołnowska, the festival’s head of industry, said the Goes to Cannes showcase is in some ways “an extension of Polish Days,” calling it “a broader promotion of Polish cinema.”

With its two previous editions, the program has had some notable triumphs, including Ewa Podgórska’s documentary “Diagnosis,” which premiered in the IDFA Competition for First Appearance; “Tower. A Bright Day,” by Jagoda Szelc, which premiered in the Berlinale Forum; and Adrian Panek’s allegorical World War II thriller “Werewolf” (pictured).

This year’s selection includes a mix of documentaries and fiction features with both festival and commercial potential. Sunday’s presentation will take place at 10am in the Palais des Festivals.

“#TOOMANYKICKS” is director Maciej Ślęzak’s portrait of the sneaker industry in post-Communist Poland, where times were tough, grueling and gray, and sneakers served as the only connection to the Western world—driving a generation of ambitious, individualistic entrepreneurs. The film is produced by Dawid Wawrzyszyn (DayDream Production).

Leszek Dawid’s “Broad Peak” is the story of mountain-climber Maciek Berbeka, who made the first winter ascent of the eponymous peak in 1988, only to discover he hadn’t reached the highest summit. Twenty-four years later, he receives a phone call asking if he’d like to join an expedition to finish what he started. The film is produced by Maciej Rzączyński, Krzysztof Rzączyński, Dawid Janicki and Paweł Rymarz (East Studio Sp. z o.o.).

“I Never Cry,” by director Piotr Domalewski, turns on a 17-year-old Polish girl who has to travel to Ireland to retrieve the body of her father, a builder who died while working abroad. The Poland-Ireland co-production is produced by Jan Kweiciński (Akson Studio) and Julie Ryan (MK1 Productions).

Piotr Jaworski’s “The Antarctic Syndrome” centers on the forgotten, pioneering experiment of a military psychologist, who studied the limits of the human psyche in the isolation of Antarctica. The film is produced by Janusz and Kamil Skałkowski (Kalejdoskop Film).

“Tony Halik. Born for Adventure,” from director Marcin Borchardt, is the story of Tony Halik who, while living in a Communist Poland where people had no passports, claimed to be Evita Peron’s private pilot, Richard Nixon’s press officer, Queen Elisabeth’s guest of honor, and the first journalist to interview Fidel Castro. The film is produced by Karolina Galuba and Małgorzata Małysa (Furia Film).

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