On 10 September, at Teatr Studio in Warsaw, the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival awards ceremony took place. But it did not mark the end of the 17th edition of the biggest celebration of documentary cinema in Poland – we still have a weekend filled with exciting films and events to look forward to in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice, Poznan, Bydgoszcz, and Lublin. In Gdynia, the festival ends on 18 September. Online edition (films available on mdag.pl): 19 September - 4 October.
The Grand Prix – Bank Millennium Award goes to “The Earth is Blue as an Orange” by Iryna Tsilyk!
13 films entered the Main Competition of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival to vie for the Grand Prix and its accompanying EUR 8000 prize. The best film was selected by a jury consisting of: director Paweł Pawlikowski, director Maria Zmarz- Koczanowicz and producer Sigrid Dyekjaer.
The jury awarded the Grand Prix – Bank Millennium Award and its accompanying EUR 8000 to “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”. The jury justified their selection thusly: „The jury would like to thank Artur Liebhart and his team for putting together a brilliant competition program. It was a journey - sometimes inspiring, but mostly disturbing - through the turmoils of our contemporary world. A world well and truly out of joint. There were many films deserving of an award or a special mention. Unfortunately there is only one award to give, and giving special mentions to so many films didn’t seem to make sense. There was one film film that we all loved and agreed upon. The jury decided - unanimously - to award the main prize to a film that tells an original and powerful story, with great empathy and a strong sense of form. It is about a family which uses film-making as a tool for surviving and staying sane in the middle of a war zone. Avoiding emotional rhetoric and exaggeration, the director has made a deeply moving and at the same time universal film about the survival of the human spirit in dark times…”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Ziemia-jest-niebieska-jak
The Best Polish Film Award goes to “Between Us“ by Dorota Proba!
12 films entered the first Polish Competition of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival to vie for the Best Polish Film Award and its accompanying EUR 3000 prize. The best film was selected by a jury consisting of: Marek Hovorka - Director of Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, director Joanna Kos-Krauze, director Paweł Łoziński and Brigid O’Shea from the DOK Leipzig Film Festival.
The jury awarded the Best Polish Film Award to “Between Us”. The jury justified their selection thusly: „In a time where physical intimacy is limited because of the pandemic, and as unconventional ideas about relationships and love are marginalised and fluid sexual or gender identities questioned and even violently oppressed, it was a pleasure to spend time with three couples navigating the hardships and joys of modern relationships. Director Dorota Proba expertly sets a framework for the audience to enter their lives and the inner workings of their partnerships with kindness and intimacy. The film is punctuated with everyday scenes of family life between the more formal interviews that reveal what it takes to build, sustain or let go of love and commitment”.
More about the film: mdag.pl/17/pl/warszawa/movie/Miedzy-nami
Special Mention goes to: Let's Try to Jump Into The Well directed by Piotr Stasik and Dorota Wardęszkiewicz:
„A portrait of an artist completely unlike anything we’ve seen. It shows a great director completely powerless when faced with a vampirically draining work and process. Out of this despair and helplessness, art is born. A film that proves that the sense of art, life, and work truly depends on which side of the bed you sit…”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Sprobujmy-skoczyc-do
The Smakjam Polish Competition Prize for the Best Production goes to production company Pokromski Studio for “The Whale From Lorino” by Maciej Cuske
12 films entered the first Polish Competition of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival to vie for the Smakjam Polish Competition Prize and its accompanying EUR 3000 prize. The best film was selected by a jury consisting of: Marek Hovorka - Director of Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, director Joanna Kos-Krauze, director Paweł Łoziński and Brigid O’Shea from the DOK Leipzig Film Festival.
The jury awarded the Smakjam Polish Competition Prize to “The Whale From Lorino” by Maciej Cuske. The jury justified their selection thusly: A sensitive filmmaker has created a beautiful and tender group portrait of the residents of a forgotten town at the end of the world. Empathically and without judgment, he showed their daily struggles as they live in a ruined country, giving us a universal story about humanity and hope in a sea of hopelessness.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Wieloryb-z
The Amnesty International Polska Award goes to the director of the film “Welcome to Chechnya”
David France and the film „Welcome to Chechnya” have won this year’s competition for the best film about human rights. The jury consisting of Jakub Majmurek – columnist, film critic, Draginja Nadaždin – director of Amnesty International Polska, Maciej Drygas – documentary film director, has awarded the winner a prize of EUR 3000.
The jury justified their selection thusly: “David France’s film is a stunning account of the discrimination and persecution faced by the LGBTI community in Chechnya. The director builds his relationship with his protagonists with exceptional tenderness, accompanying them as they flee from their homeland. The film talks not only about injustices visited upon minority groups, but also about contemporary Chechnya and Russia in which politics often translates into individual tragedies. It is a film about a system of oppression in which both the homophobic declarations of dictators, and the violence that LGBTI people suffer at the hands of their own families, go unpunished. The film shows that even in a seemingly hopeless situation, the actions of small groups of socially aware and courageous people can make a big difference”.
More about the film:https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Witamy-w-Czeczenii
The Amnesty International Polska jury has also awarded a Special Mention to the film “For Sama”, justifying it thusly:
“Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts have created a moving account of the Syrian conflict and people who are trying to find their bearings in a war-torn country while simultaneously bringing aid to others. “For Sama” is also a chronicle of the mobilization and defeat of Aleppo, of a generation that challenged a dictatorship it had known all their life, and fought for a democratic Syria until the very end. The filmmakers have managed to beautifully combine a grand political narrative with an intimate, diarist approach; a chapter of Syrian history with an account of an attempt at having a normal family life”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Dla-Samy
The Amnesty International Polska jury has also awarded a Special Mention to the film “The Cave”, justifying it thusly:
“The film “The Cave”, directed by Feras Fayyad, is a supremely told and filmed story about the cruelties of war, but also about the beauty of the human spirit in critical situations. Amidst the sounds of bombing, life goes on in the titular Cave. We are witnessing drastic scenes, we see the results of a chemical gas strike, and the superhuman efforts of doctor Amani Ballour and her team exert to ensure that the hospital stays operational and continues to save people’s health and lives. This task is particularly challenging for a woman who takes on a role that is much different from the one she would have in the patriarchal “surface” society. The humanity, perseverance and heroism of the protagonists of this film give us hope”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Jaskinia
The Award for Best Cinematography goes to the cinematographer of the film “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”
10 visually compelling titles entered the competition. The jury consisting of Tala Hadid – director, producer and photographer (“House in the Fields”), Krzysztof Skonieczny – director (“Hardkor Disko”, “Ślepnąc od świateł”), Samir Ljuma – cinematographer (“Honeyland ”) has given the Award for Best Cinematography and its accompanying EUR 2000 prize to Viacheslav Tsvietkov, the cinematographer of “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”.
The jury justified their selection thusly: “For a natural visual style that organically supports the intimate story of a vulnerable and yet strong family struggling to survive in the collapsing reality of war through the art of cinema, we would like to give the Cinematography Award to Earth is blue as an orange directed by Iryna Tsylik with cinematography by Viacheslav Tsvietkov”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Ziemia-jest-niebieska-jak
The Green Warsaw Award goes to the directors of “My Octopus Teacher” - Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed
During this year’s Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival, the Green Warsaw Award and its accompanying PLN 15 000 cash prize was once again given to the best film on ecology. The award was funded by the City of Warsaw.
The jury consisting of Marcin Dorociński, actor and producer, Leszek Drogosz, director of the Bureau of Infrastructure of the City of Warsaw, Katarzyna Jagiełło– climate activist and expert, gave the Green Warsaw Award to ippa Ehrlich, and James Reed, the directors of the film “My Octopus Teacher”, justifying their selection thusly:
“In the Green Warsaw Award competition, the jury was able to pick from 8 films that dealt with problems and dangers created when man excessively and often senselessly exploits the natural resources of our planet, severely upsetting its biological equilibrium and climate.
We saw accounts of global destruction and mounting problems, but also attempts at pointing the way forward if we, as citizens of Earth, want to avoid the ultimate disaster.
We found a ray of hope that man is capable of establishing a healthy relationship with nature in the intimate story told by the directing duo of Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed titled “My Octopus Teacher”.
“Tenderness is the most modest form of love”, as Olga Tokarczuk has recently taught us. Craig Foster, the protagonist of the film, is the most tender of observers, wise and mindful of every particle and fiber of our world. His intimate bond with an incredible creature – an octopus – offers us a glimpse into the oceanic ecosystem and allows us to witness a beautiful relationship between two vastly different creatures. We have the privilege to follow the story of an affection built with the tiniest of gestures, between one breath and the next. This incredible encounter above divisions evolves before our very eyes into a real, tender love. If we can learn to look at all the creatures on this planet the way the human narrator of this documentary film sees his Teacher, there’s still hope”.
The Green Warsaw Awards is accompanied by the Climate for Change film section.
More about the film:https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Osmiornica%252C-nauczycielka
The Chopin’s Nose Award for the director of “System K” Renaud Baret
During this year’s edition of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Festival, we have once again given out the Chopin’s Nose award and its accompanying EUR 2000 prize to the best film about music and art. The jury consisting of artist Karol Radziszewski, singer and composer Barbara Wrońska, activist and director Jaśmina Wójcik, has given the award to Renaud Baret, the director of the film “System K”.
The jury justified their verdict thusly: “Having seen the twelve competition films, the Jury has unanimously voted to give the award to System K by Renaud Baret. The film daringly, and without resorting to exoticization, shows a closely-knit group of artists for whom art made from the refuse of Western civilization is an authentic form of social dialogue, a voice of resistance that inspires political reflection. The film turns into a radical performance because, to quote the protagonists: Life in Kinshasa is in itself a performance (…) Kinshasa is a great exhibition, here art is everywhere and for everyone.”.
The Chopin’s Nose Award is funded by the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute.
More about the film:https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/System-K
TVP Kultura Award for „City Dreamers”, dir. Josepha Hillela
Granting the award to “City Dreamers”, TVP Kultura honors the female architects who’d spent their lives overshadowed by such legends as Le Corbusier or Robert Venturi. Joseph Hillel’s film is a homage to extraordinarily talented women: Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Denise Scott Brown—the dreamers who’d left their mark on the shape of the biggest metropolises on both sides of the Atlantic. This film tells the story of female pioneers: they were the first to stand against male domination in architecture; they came up with the idea of green spaces in the hearts of towns, foreseeing the needs and issues of our times; they defended architectural heritage from being torn down… The director managed to capture their strength, courage, and faith in the beauty of architecture.
More about the film: mdag.pl/17/pl/warszawa/movie/Marzycielki
The “Zwierciadło” Award for the Best Film on Psychology goes to the directors of “Lessons of Love”
This year, we have once again handed out the “Zwierciadło” Award and its accompanying EUR 1000 for the best film on psychology. The winners are Małgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja, the directors of „Lessons of Love”.
The editorial staff justified their selection thusly: “We have decided to give the award to Lessons of love because we fell in love with its protagonist, Jola. It’s very hard not to love her. For the fact that, after 45 years, she has managed to liberate herself from a toxic relationship and started fighting for herself. For the fact that she is absolutely certain that you can find happiness and love, and it’s never too late to start. And for her uncompromising faith that life can be not just good, but also beautiful”.
More about the film: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Lekcja-milosci
The “Focus” Magazine Award for the Biggest Personality of the Festival goes to professor Szymon Malinowski, the protagonist of the film “It’s Okay to Panic”, dir. Jonathan Ramsey
This year, once again we have handed out the “Focus” Magazine Award for the Biggest Personality of the Festival. The award goes to scientist and climate activist professor Szymon Malinowski.
The editorial staff justified their selection thusly: “Professor Szymon Malinowski, the founder of the naukaoklimacie.pl climate education website and protagonist of “It’s Okay to Panic”, has been sharing factual knowledge about the ongoing climate change and successfully fighting climate denialism for decades. He’s the reason why the scientific community as well as a growing number of people in professions other than academia have started to notice the impending climate catastrophe and understand that it’ll be impossible to mitigate its dramatic results without immediate action. Very few scientists in Poland study atmospheric physics, Professor Malinowski’s branch of science, and his performance in “It’s Okay to Panic” is a unique example of science popularization utilizing personal experiences and stories”.
The Best Debut Award goes to the film “The Euphoria of Being”
The intergenerational jury of the Documentary Academy consisting of: Maciej Bisiorek, Beata Główczewska, Maja Kudła, Ewa Przychoćko-Ryme, Józek Rostkowski, Józef Śmigiel, having watched eight films, decided to give the Best Debut Award to the film “The Euphoria of Being”.
The jury justified their selection thusly: “The Euphoria of Being directed by Reka Szabo is a film that grips your heart with its intimacy. It’s a moving story about a meeting of three women who, through dance, weave a story about life, memory, and loss.”.
More about the film “The Euphoria of Being”: https://mdag.pl/17/en/warszawa/movie/Euforia-istnienia
But these are not all the awards given out during the Warsaw edition of the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival. Like every year, the audience of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival will select its favorite film and give it The Audience Award. The accompanying prize of EUR 2000 was funded by the City of Warsaw. All the films shown during the Festival are eligible to win. Every moviegoer can vote, becoming a juror of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival!
On Friday, 11 September, we will know the winner of the Lower Silesia Grand Prix – the Award of the Marshall of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, and its accompanying prize of EUR 3000, for the best film in the Main Competition of the Wrocław edition of the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity.
On Friday, 11 September, we will know the winner of the The Audience Award of the Silesian Voivodeship. Also on 11 September, we will learn who won the Bydgoszcz ART.DOC AWARD and its accompanying EUR 1500. On 17 September, in Gdynia, the Award of the President of the City of Gdynia and its accompanying prize of PLN 15 000 will be awarded. On the same day, we will learn the results of the “Co Jest Grane 24” Competition, as decided by audiences in Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia and Poznań, as they select their favorite film from among 10 titles dealing with various pop cultural phenomena and more serious topics. The winner will receive a trophy and EUR 1000.
The awarded films:
The Grand Prix – the Bank Millennium Award, along with EUR 8000
Winner: “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”, dir. Iryna Tsilyk
Best Polish Film Award, along with EUR 3000
Winner: “Between Us“, dir. Dorota Proba
The Smakjam Polish Competition Prize for the Best Production, along with EUR 3000
Winner: “The Whale From Lorino”, dir. Maciej Cuske
The Amnesty International Polska Award, along with EUR 3000
Winner: “Welcome to Chechnya”, dir. David France
Special Mentions: “For Sama”, dir. Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts, “The Cave”, dir. Feras Fayyad
The Award for Best Cinematography, along with EUR 2000
Winner: “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”, cinematographer: Viacheslav Tsvietkov
The Green Warsaw Award, along with PLN 15000
Winner: “My Octopus Teacher”, dir. Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
The Chopin’s Nose Award, along with EUR 2000
Winner: “System K”, dir. Renaud Barret
The “Zwierciadło” Award for the Best Film on Psychology, along with EUR 1000
Winner: “Lessons of Love”, dir. Kasia Mateja, Małgorzata Goliszewska
The “Focus” Award for the Biggest Personality of the Festival
Winner: prof. Szymon Malinowski, the protagonist of “It’s Okay to Panic”, dir. Jonathan Ramsey
The Best Debut Award
Winner: “The Euphoria of Being”, dir. Réka Szabó