Still Rolling

26 January 2021

Still Rolling

The pandemic has had a major impact on all sectors of the economy, including the film industry. We talk to Dariusz Nosal, manager of the Kraków Film Commission, about how the sector is dealing with the fallout.

Karnet: 2020 was a difficult year for us all. How has Kraków been supporting filmmakers during the pandemic?

Dariusz Nosal: No-one expected the coronavirus pandemic to take such a great toll on the audiovisual industry, but we now know that its effects will be felt for years to come. The restrictions imposed on individual sectors have forced the entire film industry to completely change the way it works. Producers have had to shift timelines for new projects, and adapt the way they work on existing ones to fit in with the new conditions or even abandon them altogether. Cinemas have been adapting by moving screenings online and developing repertoires around existing films – we have to remember that the majority of upcoming premieres have been cancelled or postponed until happier times.
The Department of Culture and National Heritage of the Municipal Office of Kraków prepared a package supporting the cultural sector and artists (including the audiovisual sector) under the banner “Resistant Culture”. This campaign helped maintain the budget set aside for film productions of the Regional Film Fund in Kraków and allowed us hold the RFF competition as planned.
On a more logistical level, another element of support has been the appointment of the Film Commissioner. Working on behalf of the Mayor of the City of Kraków and as part of the Kraków Film Commission, they will support, collect and combine all cinematic activities taking place in Kraków in order to streamline all processes involved in filmmaking.

Which cinematic productions received support from the Regional Film Fund in 2020?

The 12th competition of the Regional Film Fund in Kraków received over 20 submissions this year. The competition jury and advisory board, with Irena Strzałkowska and Krzysztof Gierat joining this year, decided to provide co-production support to eight projects. They include feature films Prime Time, Delegation, @miriamfrompoland and Journey, documentaries Earth presenting disappearing rural folklore, Frequency dedicated to the actor Krzysztof Globisz and the bitter-sweet tale of a long life as a couple Until the Wedding, and the animation Gonâve produced by the Krakow Film Cluster. The latter tells the incredible story of Faustin Wirkus – an American Marine of Polish roots who was reputedly crowned king of a Haitian island.

Which films have been completed and which are still under production?

For obvious reasons, apart from Prime Time and Journey, none of the films supported by this year’s RFF competition are finished yet – there is still a long road ahead for the others.
Unfortunately the pandemic has also affected films selected at last year’s RFF competition, and their production is still ongoing. Filming is complete on Wojtek Smarzowski’s The Wedding 2 and Bartosz Bartosza Blaschke’s Sonata. The fully Cracovian project There Was a Shoemaker is now in postproduction.
Finally, despite concerns, shooting has been completed on the film under the working title Real Life of Angels starring Krzysztof Globisz.

In late November last year, we heard rumours that Kraków was to be used as a setting for a few brand-new productions. Can you tell us more about them?

Yes, that’s right. Despite the restrictions introduced to help combat the pandemic, work is ongoing on the TV dramas Westwall and Erynie. Due to the nature of the work and restrictions imposed on the producers, I cannot reveal more details, but given the discussions and length of time taken to complete filming, many Cracovians are likely to encounter film crews about their business.
Less in the public eye, work is ongoing on animations (including those co-financed by KBF), which involves many quiet hours in the studio.

What other initiatives has the Kraków Film Commission launched in 2020?

As well the 12th RFF competition, Kraków Film Commission, as a part of KBF, the commission is involved in a wide range of audiovisual initiatives every year. Despite the difficulties faced by the budget due to the pandemic and the need to cancel several events or move them online, we have been able to support most of the projects we were planning to. The most important ones include the year-round cycle of international workshops Less Is More, the Screenwriting Atelier workshops, the Film Spring Open workshops founded by Sławomir Idziak and the DOC LAB Poland pitches (forming a part of the CEDOC Market as of this year). These are all educational events for the film industry. Additionally, together with the National Chamber of Audiovisual Producers and other regional film commissions, we were able to prepare and conduct online training courses for location managers in Poland who worked with esteemed colleagues from the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI) on preparing pitches for international producers.
We have also worked with the Literary Department of KBF to host Word2Picture. The event brings together the publishing and film industries to introduce film producers to the latest publications with a high potential as screen adaptations. Co-produced by the National Chamber of Audiovisual Producers, the event finale was held during the Conrad Festival.
Despite the restrictions, we have also co-organised Kraków’s largest cinematic events: the Krakow Film Festival and Mastercard OFF Camera.
We have also been working on events aimed at Cracovians and visitors, such as the cinema cycle from the Civic Budget (screenings were held during the summer months at the Polish Aviators’ Park) and presentations of the finest animations from around the globe held as part of the Krakow Summer Animation Days in collaboration with the organisers of the Etiuda&Anima festival.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to move many of our activities online. We have been working with our partners to provide extensive content on the new multimedia platform PLAY KRAKÓW. We have launched a collaboration with the organisers of the Kraków Mountain Festival, we will soon start presenting animations made by students at the Academy of Fine Arts or screened at the Etiuda&Anima festival, and next year we are hoping to launch an educational project alongside the Krakow Film Foundation.

To finish, tell us about your favourite films “starring” Kraków.

I’ll start with the most obvious and recognisable on the international arena: Steven Spielberg’s multi-award winning Schindler’s List is a must-see for its star-studded cast, captivating music by John Williams and stunning cinematography by Janusz Kamiński. Marcin Koszałka’s The Red Spider is a thriller set in Kraków inspired by the real-life teenage serial killer Karol Kot. For light entertainment, one of my favourites is Juliusz Machulski’s heist comedy Vinci.
I’m a big fan of Wojtek Smarzowski’s work, so I’d recommend two of his films made in Kraków and Małopolska: The Mighty Angel based on the novel by Jerzy Plich, and Clergy which broke all attendance records on its release and went on to become Poland’s highest-grossing film for over 30 years.

Interview by Justyna Skalska

The Kraków Film Commission was founded by KBF to provide organisational support for films produced in Kraków and Małopolska. It is the operator of the Regional Film Fund in Kraków supporting the local film industry.

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