Polish LGBT distributor Tongariro Releasing has secured all-rights deals for North America, the UK, France and German-speaking Europe for Kamil Krawczycki’s Elephant.
Elephant world premiered as a special screening at New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw on Wednesday (July 27).
The film has sold to TLA Releasing for the USA, Canada and the UK, Optimale for France, and to Berlin-based Salzgeber Medien for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Elephant was inspired by Krawczycki’s own experiences growing up in his home town in the mountains of Southern Poland.
It’s the story of a young man who runs a small horse farm, and looks after his possessive mother. Their relation is not easy but it becomes even more difficult when he falls in love with an older musician Dawid, and begins to dream of leaving home.
The film was shot on location last autumn at a farm near Warsaw and in the Podhale region, sometimes referred to as the “Polish Highlands”.
“This is a story of a young guy whose family obligations affect his freedom, but he manages to hide his desires,” Krawczycki said. “I wanted to portray a character who is vulnerable and strong at the same time. I know that many queer people in Poland can relate to that. By telling this story, I wanted to pay tribute to them and give them a bit of hope which is needed in Poland right now.”
Speaking to Screen at New Horizons, Tongariro’s co-founder Jakub Mróz said he is now deciding on the appropriate festival strategy for the film’s international premiere.
Mróz added that he is looking to work with a bigger distributor to handle the theatrical release of Elephant in Poland “because it would send an important message to the audience that one can see this film in commercial cinemas and not just in arthouse ones.”
Elephant is the feature debut for Krawczycki, and for Mróz as a producer, and for lead actor Jan Hrynkiewicz, DoP Jakub Piek and costume designer Zofia Jocek.
The film was co-financed through the Polish Film Institute’s First Film micro-budget funding scheme targeted at films with budgets of no more than €150,000.
In addition, Mróz and Krawczycki participated as a producer/director team in the Film Institute’s Impact training programme as preparation for the production.
“Impact was very useful for the project,” Mróz recalled. “We worked on the script there and also learnt a lot about how to solve problems and conflicts that might arise between producers and directors.”
Following its two screenings at New Horizons this week, Elephant will be shown at the Two Riversides Film and Art Festival held in the historical Polish towns of Kazimierz Dolny and Janowiec at the beginning of August.
The film has also been selected to compete in the Micro-budget Films Competition at the 47th Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia on the Baltic coast in September.