Camera pointed at me and my loved ones. Announcing the first titles of the 64th Krakow Film Festival

They have won top prizes at two prestigious film festivals and will be screened in Kraków during the International Documentary Competition at the turn of May. Strong, bold, moving, and – above all – very personal, with the camera aimed at their creators and their loved ones. Here are the first titles of this year’s edition of the Krakow Film Festival. There’s definitely plenty to look forward to!

Films honoured at such important cinema events are a real treat for audiences. We are very proud that our discoveries include titles previously uncovered by our colleagues from renowned festivals and acclaimed by outstanding filmmakers, – comments Krzysztof Gierat, the director of the festival.

Three titles managed to captivate the audience and juries at major film festivals. The hopeful documentary Life is Beautiful by Mohamed Jabaly won Best Director at IDFA, Shoghakat Vardanyan’s shocking 1498 left Amsterdam with the main prize. Meanwhile, the very intimate Monogamia by Ohad Milstein stole the hearts of critics at the Locarno festival. Completely different stories, all united by a personal perspective, with the camera lens directed towards oneself and one’s immediate surroundings.

Phone at IDFA

The Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, IDFA, needs no introduction for genre enthusiasts and cinema aficionados. This time, two award-winning documentaries from the festival have been invited to Kraków. Both Life is Beautiful and 1489 will be screened for the first time in Poland. 

Young Palestinian director Mohamed Jably is invited to a film festival in Norway. What was planned as a month-long stay in Tromsø turns into seven years of unexpected emigration. Isolated from his loved ones living in the cut-off Gaza Strip, he tries to navigate the new bureaucratized reality of a cold, European country. Newly made friends, both the film community and the local community, and a camera and phone come to his aid as the young director documents his struggles with the Norwegian system and connects with his family. 

In 1489, a phone that doesn’t ring takes on a new role. It becomes a camera that records the daily life of a family anxiously waiting for any news about their beloved child. The director’s 21-year-old brother died on the front line during the armed conflict in the Artsakh (Nagorno- Karabakh). The family tries to find out what happened, visiting military personnel and areas that could provide any clues. Hope mixes with doubt, and the wait for the return of the missing relative with an attempt to come to terms with his passing. Shoghakat Vardanyan records herself and her loved ones in very intimate situations, capturing moments of sleep, prayer, or emotion, doing so until a strikingly subdued and poignant finale.

Camera in Locarno

The winner of the prestigious Critics’ Week at one of the oldest film festivals in the world, the Locarno Film Festival, has been invited to Kraków for a Polish premiere screening. 

Ohad Milstein’s Monogamy unfolds a dual narrative about two couples at different stages of life. Front and center are a couple married for over 50 years, grappling with the serious issue of the wife’s shopping addiction. In the background, a younger couple wants to open up to new sexual experiences. The film explores how the director’s parents are drifting apart while he himself purses other forms of intimacy with his own partner. Serving as a form of (self) therapy, the documentary aims to help the mother and father rebuild their marriage while capturing the reflections and uncertainties of the director regarding the titular monogamy in the face of his own new experiences.

In the International Documentary Competition, 12 of the latest films from around the world will compete for the Golden and Silver Horns. Everything will be decided by the selection team led by the festival’s director Krzysztof Gierat and the curator of the documentary section, Anita Piotrowska. Who knows, there might be a Polish production among the chosen titles. We are going to find out soon.

Krakow Film Festival is on the exclusive list of qualifying events for the Oscars® in the categories of short film (live action, animated, documentary) and documentary feature, as well as a recommending event for the European Film Awards in the same categories.

The 64th Krakow Film Festival will be held in cinemas from 26 May to 2 June and on the KFF VOD platform from 31 May to 16 June 2024.