Wroclaw New Horizons roundup: works in progress include Close Ups and I, Olga Hepnarova.

WIDE Management has begun presales on the Polish-German co-production Summer Solstice by Michal Rogalski which was one of 10 Polish films featuring in this year’s works in progress showcase at the Polish Days during Wroclaw’s New Horizons International Film Festival.

Producer Maria Golos of Prasa Film said that German theatrical distribution for the €2.5m film, which is set in Poland after the Nazi defeat during the Second World War, will be handled by Farbfilm.

Separately, Leszek Budzak of the young production company Aurum Film revealed that Jacek Lusinski’s second feature Carte Blanche will be released early next year by Kino Swiat in Poland.

Based on the true story of a history teacher who is losing his sight, the lead part of the teacher is cast with the ubiquitous Polish actor Andrzej Chyra.

Magdalena Piekorz’s third feature psychological drama Close Ups was presented by Joanna Lipinska of Krzysztof Zanussi’s production company Studio Filmowe Tor.

This year’s works in progress also included the Czech-Polish-Slovak co-production, the psychological drama I, Olga Hepnarova by Tomás Weinreb and Petr Kazda, which had been presented in the Polish Days pitching forum a year ago, and Magnus von Horn’s Polish-Swedish-French co-production The Here After which was looking for a sales company to work on a festival strategy and international distribution.

The update from 2013 works in progress

In addition, films shown as works in progress in the 2013 edition are now finished and have either premiered - Hardcore Disco at Krakow’s Off Plus Camera, and Kebab & Horoscope in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition; they were shown in closed screenings at this week’s Polish Days.

Another work in progress from 2013, Wojciech Smarzowski’s The Mighty Angel, was released by Kino Swiat in Polish cinemas in January. The story of the unrelentless self-destruction of an alcoholic - played by Robert Wieckiewicz, who played the title role in Andrzej Wajda’s Walesa. Man Of Hope -  was co-produced by HBO Polska who has also boarded Smarzowski’s next film Volnyhia.     

Ten thousand see uprising

Meanwhile at the festival, an audience of 10,000 people, including several veterans of the Warsaw Uprising and President Bronislaw Komorowski, attended a special advance screening of Jan Komasa’s Warsaw44 (Miasto44) at the capital’s National Stadium on Wednesday evening, two days before the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the uprising against the Nazis.

Eight years in the making from the time when director Komasa (Suicide Room) was approached by producer Akson Studio with the idea for the project, the $8m drama was presented as a work in progress by Akson’s Jan Kwiecinski at last year’s Polish Days in Wroclaw.

Distributor Kino Swiat will release the film in Polish cinemas on Sept 9, and it will also feature in the main competition of the Gdynia Film Festival.

The film has been positively received by veterans of the Uprising. In one comment, Brigadier General Zbigniew Scibor-Rylski, President of the Association of Warsaw Insurgents, was quoted as saying: “the screenplay accurately renders the atmosphere of those days and does not deviate from the historical truth. We believe that (…) it will reach not only the witnesses of those events, but, most of all, the young Polish generation who is now the age we were at the time.”

Prizes for best pitches

This year saw two prizes being awarded for the first time to the best pitches made at the Polish Days by the postproduction houses Chimney and Toya Studios.

Chimney will offer a 50% reduction on the costs for the visual postproduction to two projects - Owl, The Baker’s Daughter  and Volhynia, while Lodz-based Toya Studios  will offer a 50% reduction on the sound postproduction of Volhynia.

Sarajevo connections in Poland

Sarajevo is also a link for two projects pitched at the Polish Days.

Polish star Andrzej Chyra (In The Name Of ) and Bosnia’s Mirjana Karanovic (Grbavica) will headline Bosnian-born Denijal Hasanovic’s second feature Dew (Rosa) which is set to begin shooting at locations in Sarajevo from September with DoP Bogumil Godfrejow, a regular collaborator of Germany’s Hans-Christian Schmid.

Actress Andrea Otálvaro Acevedo will play a young woman from Colombia who travels to Sarajevo to prepare a research report on the city’s Mission of the International War Crime Tribunal for Bosnia. She is denied access to the Mission’s archive, but her life is changed forever after meeting an interpreter from the Mission HQ (played by Croatian actress Lana Baric).

Warsaw-based Skorpion Arte has attracted three co-producers - Bosnian production oufit pro.ba, Serbia’s Bas Celik and Croatia’s Focus Media - to come onboard the $1.47m (€1.1m) drama which is also backed by the Polish Film Institute and public broadcaster TVP.

Funding applications have also been submitted by the production partners to the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and Film Center Serbia.

Dostoyevsky’s Crocodile

Producer Marta Lewandowska of No Sugar Films pitched the feature debut All Gone Mad (Krokodyl) by Aleksandra Niemczyk, who is currently a student of the MFA Programme at Bela Tarr’s Sarajevo Film Factory.

The comedy drama set in a small Polish town in the middle of nowhere was inspired by a short story called Crocodile by the 19th Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky.