Let’s face it: there’s really no glamour in making movies – except in premieres, galas and festivals. Therefore it’s always a pleasure for a filmmaker to get invited to one. I had the fortune of winning the Common Baltic Short Film Contest with short film Venus, which bought me a trip to the award ceremony at the 42nd Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. I’d never been to Poland before, and as always, going to a new festival is also a journey to a new city, a new country and its people. All of these have a soul, and you get a glimpse of it on the festival’s silver screen.
As a young city, Gdynia might not have a long history to present, but it does have the atmosphere and functionality of a seaport. All the festival sites are within view in the center, and the city honours the festival with an ever-expanding statue of the main winners.
I found the Polish people friendly and helpful, and as a guest I got treated like a VIP; pick-up from the airport, free hotel, dining with interesting people, invitation to parties and a festival pass – which was nice. However, the main event were the movies. The Polish Film Festival presents the best Polish films of the year, and I was puzzled by Tower. A Bright day, moved by The Fastest and entertained by Double Trouble. Most of the prizes went to Silent Night, which – I conclude – will be cemented in the festival statue next year.
Besides the usual diploma, my own award included a GoPro, which was an unexpected initiation to the world of action cameras that I’m now eagerly experimenting with.
Running a long-lasting national film festival is a bold act: it is inviting people to come and see who we are; what is our culture and what we do. Rarely have I seen such an enthusiastic audience and full-packed cinemas. I discovered gold in Gdynia.