Competitions and Non-competing series



As many as 15 films, including two from Poland, will compete for the Golden and Silver Horns in this competition which paves the way for the Academy Awards and the European Film Awards. The pictures will unveil the secrets of escaping the bustle of the world and looking for the sense of life as well as living in an oppressive country and during wartime. You will witness a quest for identity, including the sexual one, and a fight against stereotypes while searching for understanding and acceptance. You will get to know the executioners and the victims, not necessarily in the literal sense of the words. You will learn about what is the most important for you, your loved ones, your countrymen and the globe. You will discover what one needs to preserve in oneself not to hurt others, to stop the world’s burning and to let nature continue to enchant us with its beauty.


In the competition for the best Polish film of the previous year, as many as 41 candidates will contend for four Golden Hobby Horses in the categories of a medium- and feature-length documentary film as well as the best short documentary, fiction and animated film. They were set in locations thousands of kilometres apart, the farthest being war-torn Syria, the mountains of Oregon and New York music clubs, while the closest – the housing estates of Nowa Huta in Krakow. The artists will go back in time to Poland under communism or even World War II using animation and archival footage as well as testimonies of witnesses who are still alive.


In this oldest competition of the Krakow Film Festival, 37 films, including 13 documentaries, 13 fiction films and 11 animations, will contend for the Golden Dragon, three Silver Dragons and a place on the shortlist for the European Film Award and the Academy Award. As many as five Polish films have been selected for this section. Its diverse palette of colours will include both the most attractive and repelling shades, stories with an incentive as well as a warning. The film producers represent a variety of countries ranging from A as Armenia to U as Ukraine with the exception of R as Russia, just like in the previous year. Documentary animations will be screened along with animated documentaries and very realistic fiction films will be contrasted with pictures of a dystopian nature, which is nevertheless not too distant from the world around us.


The exclusive protagonist of these 10 documentaries is music. It accompanies people from birth till death. We sing lullabies to put babies to sleep and hymns to say farewells to those who passed away. Both soothing and captivating, music can calm us down and pep us up. We sing at a Christmas tree, in street demonstrations and in wartime. We listen to music in clubs, philharmonic halls and sport stadiums. Music can lift our spirits and give us hope. The contenders for the Golden Heynal will include an all-male representation of the pioneers of American soul, rock-and-roll and jazz and an ensemble of energetic women including a vocalist, saxophonist, conductor and a deaf flamenco dancer. 

Non-competing series


The 2023 Dragon of Dragons Award for his contribution into the development of international animation goes to Michael Dudok de Wit, a Dutch artist and animated film director. The creator of the Oscar-winning animation Father and Daughter (2000) will present all his works in Krakow, which includes short animations, very economical in their form and drawn with a distinctive line, and the feature film ‘The Red Turtle’ awarded in Cannes and nominated to the Academy Awards. Michael Dudok de Wit will take part in KFF Talks, a meeting devoted to the influence of art on pro-climate behaviour.


Spanish documentarians focus on a variety of themes and present the complexity of our world. They tell us about everyday life of the residents of a refugee camp in Western Sahara, about reflections of shepherds tending their herds next to a laboratory developing a Covid-19 vaccine. We’ll meet a strong woman who wants to start a new life, a charismatic musician introducing us to the underground world of Spain from the period of the political system transformation, or Basque women tortured by representatives of the state in the early 21st century (!) and, finally, we will see  the last picture of Carlos Saura asking questions about the essence of art while looking at contemporary murals and pre-historic cave paintings.
Partnerzy: AC/E Acción Cultural Española, Ambasada Hiszpanii, Instytut Cervantesa w Krakowie


This year’s panorama of artists and artistic phenomena starts with the familiar ones from Krakow. It will feature the portrayals of Jerzy Kucia, an eminent animator and laureate of the Dragon of Dragons Award; a film visionary and favourite of  Martin Scorsese – Wojciech Jerzy Has; as well as his long-term collaborator – cameraman Mieczysław Jahoda. Additionally, we will learn more about some unique artistic circles, such as the legendary Stary Theatre in Krakow, the Łódź Kaliska Group and its happenings or the people gathered around Maciej Parowski, the guru of Polish science fiction, fantasy literature and comic books. The selection will also present the products of genius of such remarkable artists as Natalia LL and Witold Kaczanowski.


The protagonist of possibly the best picture by Krzysztof Zanussi, awarded with the Grand Prix in Locarno in 1973 keeps searching for the truth about himself and the world with a desire to find enlightenment. Such illumination is also required by the characters of the films screened and awarded at prestigious film festivals as well as their authors in order to create outstanding works of art not lending themselves well to simple interpretation. This section features films about a remarkable painter with Polish roots, the Chopin Competition and its talented participants, an international female friendship between two revolutions  as well as an experimental documentary inspired by Stanisław Lem works.


‘A novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet’, wrote Stendhal. Såsom i en spegel (Through a Glass Darkly) is an Oscar-winning picture by Ingman Bergman. This section’s mirror will be directed to reflect characters from five different countries. It will show us Latvian school friends, class of 1960, and their complex lives nowadays, the Savoy Hotel in Israel where there was a terrorist attack in 1973, a Hungarian marriage who unexpectedly won a fortune in a lottery, the oldest Polish DJ inviting us to dance and an enigmatic protagonist who will draw us into the turmoil of the Ukrainian war.


The Promised Land, an Oscar nominee considered by many to be Andrzej Wajda’s best work is an eventful story of three friends from Łódź: a Pole, a Jew and a German, who decided to create their own promised land. Tourists who visit Laos think of it as a gateway to paradise and absorb its unparalleled beauty but in general, their perspective is rather superficial. Newcomers to the polar region of Norway believe that this harsh but enchanting place will become their home despite cultural differences and different traditions. The pandemic forced a couple from Berlin to escape the urban bustle and take up farming in remote Mallorca. Is it a utopia? Yes, to some extent, because each of these stories raises concern about climate change.


Utopia is a word that encompasses the echoes of betrayed revolutions and millions of biographies that were trampled upon. When transcribed in the language of an ideology, it flutters over the killing fields and extermination camps. It is synonymous with the state of ubiquitous justice, which is unattainable as proven by the experiences of the 20th century. This year’s Docs+Science section explores the territory of a slightly different utopia – an ‘island where all becomes clear’ as defined by Wisława Szymborska. On it, over the Lake of Deep Conviction, in the Valley of Obviously, there grows the Tree of Understanding. This ontological island is the embodiment of the Theory of Everything. Nevertheless, for all its charms, it remains uninhabited as the poet claims. Why? Has it already been abandoned by all explorers? Or, maybe, no one has reached it yet? The films presented in this section will address such questions. The variety of answers they offer may not always be direct, but they will not leave you cold. 


This year, the most spectacular open air cinemas Pod Wawelem and in Łaźnia Nowa Theatre will provide a stage for timeless voices of iconic vocalists, both male and female. They were able to send large crowds in the audience into ecstasy, but their lives were far from perfect, as presented in the films. Although they are no longer with us, their art has not aged and it will continue to inspire, energise or soothe many for years to come. The authors of the pictures in this section include many awarded directors, such as Oscar-winning Asif Kapadia (Amy), or previous guests of our festival, including Kevin MacDonald (Whitney) and Brett Morgan (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck).


The night sky terrifies Tim, which is why the boy decided to make friends with the stars. Unfortunately, one of them suddenly disappears. A little bear has lost the entire stock of honey he needs to prepare a delicious cake. Will they manage to find the most coveted delicacy and the beloved star? The youngest audience of the Kids&Youth section are to find out! Their older friends will have an opportunity to meet Jack who is trying to adopt a role of an older brother of the one and only Gio. Teenagers, who are on another quest, albeit less obvious, may come to see two documentary screenings with films about young people trying to discover themselves, their identity and an idea for the future.


All these short documentaries, features and animations have received a passport to an international career. The selection includes the films nominated for the European Film Awards in 2022 by Europe’s most important festivals. The Krakow Film Festival belongs to this exclusive group and presents the best European short films from last year. One of them is Granny’s Sexual Life by Urška Djukić and Emilie Pigeard, which received the European Film Award in the short film category.


Sometimes you may want to see a picture of Loznitsa or Herzog, or a four-hour long documentary about a climate disaster, but let’s be honest – you do not always have the energy for it. Sometimes you may only dream about lying on a couch with a dog (or cat) and simply absorbing a story that will entertain you rather than influence the fate of the world. It may be, for example, a story about a couple who love to travel across the world and bring home all kinds of artefacts. Alternatively, you may want to open a packet of chips and watch a film about the absurd life of high school students in San Francisco or listen to the tirades of the contestants participating in a table-setting competition? All this is possible from the comfort of your sofa.

Picturing the world for 75 years. Lodz Film School Anniversary

Polish cinematography has been and continues to be created by graduates of Lodz Film School. Their names appear in the credits of Polish and international films and they are the ones lauded, awarded and honoured at festivals and competitions across the world. Lodz Film School comprises not just a building in Targowa street but also its genius loci – a collection of experiences, thoughts, emotions, ideas, dreams and creative struggles accompanied by fear and joy as well as successes and failures of people who have been part of the School for many years. We would like to summon this spirit on the occasion of the anniversary! We are celebrating, reminiscing, watching films, meeting people and continue to obsessively OBSERVE THE WORLD. Come and join us to celebrate the 75 th birthday of Lodz Film School!


Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival will take place on a rescheduled date this year due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On 2 June, the opening day of Docudays UA, we would like to invite you to a screening of Alisa Kovalenko’s We Will Not Fade Away, which is the opening film of the Kyiv festival. The screening will be preceded by a presentation of the award-winning short film Liturgy of the Anti-Tank Obstacles by Dmytro Sukholytkyy Sobchuk. In this way, we want to emphasise our support for our friends in Kyiv and for Ukrainian filmmakers fighting for the freedom of their homeland.


For the first time at the Krakow Film Festival we present Virtual Reality programme that includes projects that have already won recognition abroad, such as: Nightsss Weroniki – an erotic virtual project of Lewandowska and Sandra Frydrysiak presented at the Sundance Film Festival; The Choice – a poignant documentary by Joanna Popińska which has won awards at the most prestigious VR events across the world; Cosmogonic by Paweł Szarzyński – the first VR experience based on the short story Uranium Ears by Stanisław Lem; Dead City by Krzysztof Grudziński, a narrative experience based on a poetic libretto by Erich Wolfgang Korngold as well as two project from Lodz VNLAB: Self by Patryk Jordanowicz and Tadeusz Chudy and Przestrzeń zamknięta by Hana Umeda.