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    ERA New Horizons Celebrates 10th Anniversary in Style

    By Martin Blaney | August 4, 2010

    A cinematic feast of riches was served up this year by the ERA New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw, from 22 July to 1 August as Poland’s biggest film festival entered its 10th year.

    Over 500 films from 50 countries, including 240 features, were shown over the 11 days, with retrospectives dedicated to the works of the Quay Brothers, Laura Mulvey, Philippe Mora, Zeki Demirkubuz and Daniel Szczechura as well as tributes to Jean-Luc Godard and the late Polish master Wojciech Jerzy Has with complete reviews of their œuvres.

    Official ERA poster, courtesy of ERA New Horizons

    Official ERA poster, courtesy of ERA New Horizons

    German cinema was featured in the festival programme with such titles as Romuald Karmakar’s Villalobos, Tanzträume (Dancing Dreams) (see review in KINO 97), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s first English-language film Despair as well as numerous co-productions – ranging from the Berlinale competition films Shekarchi (The Hunter) and Na Putu (On The Path) through UK filmmaker Christopher Petit’s new film essay Content (an epilogue to his 1979 iconic debut Radio On which was produced with Wim Wenders’ Road Movies) to Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte (co-produced with Berlin’s Essential Filmproduktion) which won the Audience Award and the International Film Guide Award.

    Moreover, this year saw the international film critics association FIPRESCI being invited by the festival to award its much respected prize for the first time, and the secretary general Klaus Eder and the Berlinale’s East Europe consultant Nikolai Nikitin were both members of the New Polish Films Competition.

    Meanwhile, a delegation from the Film Festival Cottbus – which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year from 2 – 7 November (www.filmfestivalcottbus.de) – travelled to Wroclaw to present two films from past programmes: the Croatian film The Blacks – winner of the Special Prize for Best Direction in 2009 – and Russian Alexey Balabanov’s Of Freaks And Men.

    A partnership had been forged between the two festivals at the 2009 edition of ERA New Horizons and festival director Roman Gutek headed the jury in Cottbus last November. Festival guests were invited to a ‘Cottbus Cocktail’ in Wroclaw on 27 July when festival director Roland Rust announced that the sidebar entitled ‘Polskie Horizonty’ would become a permanent feature at his festival.

    Audience figures this year reached 122,500 admissions, clear proof that Gutek and his team have found the right formula to attract cinema-goers from near and far to the films in the eclectic programme. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of film was showing, the cineastes flocked to each performance. Moreover, the system of booking tickets online via the festival website proved a much more comfortable alternative to standing ages in line – even if the new Polish films were invariably sold out just minutes after booking opened at midnight for the screenings of the next two days!

    An innovation in Wroclaw this year was the launching of the New Horizons Studio aimed at 30 young Polish film professionals in order to give them a better understanding of the workings of the international film industry.

    Over four days the participants heard presentations from producers Sandy Lieberson and Julie Baines, festival organizer Rik Vermeulen, sales agent Tine Klint together with master classes from international jury member Jonathan Caouette (he broke into the international film scene in 2004 with Tarnation) and Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

    The participants included cinematographer Mikolaj Lebkowski (his film Mother Theresa Of Cats had screened this year in Gdynia and Karlovy Vary); producer Kuba Kosma and director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, the makers of the European Film Award-nominated short Hanoi – Warsaw; composer Adrian Konarski, who wrote the score for Magdalena Piekorz’s award-winning The Welts; and director Bartosz Warwas who was featured in the Polish shorts competition with his latest film, the “mockumentary” MC: Man Of Vinyl.

    Interestingly, Bartosz had recently taken part in a German-Polish initiative organized by the Leipzig-based association Ostpol as a collaboration between the German Creative Writing Programme Leipzig (DLL) and the Leon Schiller National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Lodz. The result was six German-Polish shorts under the banner of Ansichtssache 2 (A Matter of Opinion 2). More information at www.ostpol-leipzig.de.

    Right at the beginning of the Studio’s programme, the young filmmakers were divided off into working groups and given the task of developing projects to be pitched to the Studio’s expert consultants on the last day before proceedings were rounded off with an evening cruise and farewell party on the River Odra.

    Looking ahead to the 2011 edition, the organizers of ERA New Horizons have already revealed that there will be showcases of the work of Terry Gilliam, Japanese erotic cinema, and of past and contemporary Norwegian cinema. In addition, the festival will focus on the work of the Polish master director Andrzej Munk on the 50th anniversary of his death.

    More information about Wroclaw’s ERA New Horizons can be found at www.enh.pl.

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