Krakow Film Festival is one of the oldest events in the world dedicated to documentary, animated and short feature films. It core consists of three competitions of equal rank: documentary film competition, short film competition and national competition. During the eight festival days, the viewers have a chance to watch about 250 films from Poland and from around the world. They are shown in competition sections and in special screenings. The festival is accompanied by exhibitions, concerts, open-air shows and meetings with artists. Every year, the festival is visited by approximately 900 Polish and international guests: directors, producers, festival programmers and numerous Krakow audience.
Over the years, not only the event’s programme changed, but also the standing of the festival itself. The importance of the Krakow Film Festival is asserted by the fact that it belongs to a prestigious group of festivals accredited by, among others, International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), European Film Academy (EFA) and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Thanks to that it is the only Academy Awards documentary feature films qualifying festival and one of the two Academy Awards short films qualifying festivals in Poland. Krakow Film Festival is also among renowned festivals recommending short films and feature documentary films for the European Film Awards.
It is in Krakow where the eminent Polish documentary film makers began their careers: Krzysztof Kieślowski, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Andrzej Fidyk and Marcel Łoziński. It was here where the great authors of Polish animated films made themselves known to the world: Ryszard Czekała, Jerzy Kucia, Julian Antoniszczak, Piotr Dumała and Zbigniew Rybczyński, the winner of the Academy Award for his film “Tango.” In the international competitions, apart from recognised documentary and animated film makers, many other artists participated and won the festival laurels, including the ones whose names are widely known in the world of feature film: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Werner Herzog, Zoltán Huszarik, Jaromil Jireś, Claude Lelouch, Patrice Leconte, Mike Leigh, as well as the winner of the Academy Award —Jan Svěrák.
The history of Krakow Film Festival reaches back to 1961, when it was still called Polish Short Film Festival, and presented the achievements of the native cinema. Three years later, the international festival was added to the Polish festival, and the event changed from a nation-wide one into an event of international standing. In 1998, for the first time the award for lifetime achievement in documentary and short film, called the Dragon of Dragons award, was given. In 2001, the festival’s name itself was changed, and since then, it functions as Krakow Film Festival, whose subsequent editions are held at the turn of May and June.
In 2007, in addition to two previously existing competitions — the national and international ones, the third competition appeared for the first time, namely, the competition including ten of the best feature-length documentary films (currently, 10 medium-length and 10 feature-length documentary films). However, the popularity of the section “Sounds of Music” inspired the organisers to organize a new competition in 2013 – 2020 — the music documentary competition DocFilmMusic.
Within a few years, many new offers appeared in the festival programme. Since 2006, the festival is accompanied by Krakow Film Market, dedicated to film industry professionals. Every year, there are numerous non-competing screenings, which have already managed to take root in the festival schedule, such as “World Stories, ” “Somewhere in Europe,” “Festival Award Winners,” “Sounds of Music,” “Panorama of the Polish Films,” “Short Matters!”, “Music Video Night,” “Student Etudes Night,” “Kids&Youth,” “Doc+Science.”
Within the frames of the festival, there are also concerts and exhibitions and numerous debates and meetings with film makers and representatives of the partner film festivals (among others, from Leeds, Jihlava, Uppsala, Chinese Guanghzou, Tampere, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Kiev and Berlin).