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The international music documentary competition DocFilmMusic

The international music documentary competition DocFilmMusic at the Krakow Film Festival. The Great World Orchestra

The first all-female thrash metal band from Lebanon, Cesária Évora like we have never seen her before, a ten-year-old piano prodigy from Georgia, a story about how Fiddler on the Roof was made, and a pandemic opera – these are just some of the topics examined by films qualified for the prestigious DocFilmMusic documentary competition. Documentary opera, musical, contemplative cinema – film-and-music documentaries from all over the world –as always – bring many surprises in both content and form. 

Going far beyond traditional concert footage, every year DocFilmMusic confirms that this type of documentary cinema offers numerous possibilities – says Krzysztof Gierat, director of the Krakow Film Festival. – There’s a variety of musical genres and film forms; protagonists who gained world fame and those we are going to introduce to the festival audience. I’m glad that this year’s line-up includes two Polish productions – and both make great and skilful use of artistic expression.

Kapr Code is an unusual biography of the Czech composer Jan Kapr – an equally fascinating and controversial figure (awarded by Stalin for his works). Subsequent stages of his life are sung by a choir and illustrated by, among others, unpublished archival footage consisting of audio and video recordings, letters documenting both the serious and more carefree years of one of Czech Republic’s musical pioneers. 

The film Shlomo Bar – a Musical Documentary looks at one of the most important musicians from Israel. It compiles archival and contemporary concert recordings, guiding us through the life of the charismatic Shlomo Bar, and is both full of ethnic music and personal dramas. Kraków audiences know him well, for example, from concerts at the Jewish Culture Festival. 

The protagonist of Atonal Glow is growing into a musical personality. Ten-year-old Tsotne Zedginidze is from Georgia, where he lives with his grandmother – who simultaneously acts as his guardian, piano teacher, and mentor. The boy not only plays with great talent, but also composes his own works and performs in the country and abroad. The story of the young genius also involves a complicated family situation. 

The film Near and Dear also documents the life of piano players. The Cavallini twins form a unique duo who’s famous for their performances together and admired in Argentina and the United States. Currently, the 91-year-old women live in a small apartment in Buenos Aires together with a magnificent piano and impressive porcelain dolls. The tense and cordial relationship of these extraordinary artists unfolds against the backdrop of artifacts from the past.

It will get extremely loud and dark thanks to Slave to Sirens – the band shown in the documentary Sirens. It is the first all-female metal band in the Middle East. In conservative Lebanon, the girls aren’t only fighting to be able to perform their repertoire – widely considered to be satanic – but are also facing the problem of discrimination against LGBT people and problems within the band. 

Paraíso is a collective portrait of singing residents of Rio de Janeiro. Seniors meet after sunset in the romantic gardens next to the former presidential palace. Accompanied by various instrument, together they tell musical stories about life and love – at least until the pandemic brutally destroys their paradise.

The impact of the pandemic on the music industry is shown in the documentary Crazy Days – or Making an Opera in Pandemic Times, in which the Dutch National Opera tries to stage The Marriage of Figaro, while ensuring that all safety rules are observed, which also means that the audience can’t be present. 

Two Polish productions will compete against music documentaries from around the world for the prestigious Golden Heynal during this year’s edition of the Krakow Film Festival: the beautifully filmed 30 Years of Excuses by Armand Urbaniak and Robert Kaczmarek’s documentary Zbigniew Seifert. Interrupted Journey.

30 Years of Excuses focuses on Michał “Gier” Giercuszkiewicz – an extraordinary hero, Dżem’s drummer, and co-author of the cult album Cegła. Due to his heroin addiction and drug-addled friendship with Ryszard Riedel, he abandons his native Silesia and sets off into the Bieszczady Mountains to live alone on a raft of his own design. We meet him when the legendary label Metal Mind Productions makes him an offer to release an original album. It’s a renewed proposal from 30 years ago! Will Gier use the opportunity to record his magnum opus?

The title character of the documentary Zbigniew Seifert. Interrupted Journey doesn’t need any introductions among jazz fans. We get to know one of the most brilliant musicians of all time. We follow him from Kraków and places related to his adolescence – his family home, the Academy of Music, Kraków’s clubs and basements, through Europe, to the US, where he dies prematurely in 1979 at the age of just 33. The film is filled with Seifert’s sounds, animations resembling those from the 1960s, the memories of his loved ones, as well as those of other outstanding jazz gurus.

List of films qualified for the DocFilmMusic international competition:

  • 30 Years of Excuses , dir. Armand Urbaniak, 74’, Poland 2022
  • Atonal Glow, dir. Alexander Koridze, 67’, Georgia 2021
  • Near and Dear, dir. María Alvarez, 81’, Argentina 2021
  • Cesária Évora, dir. Ana Sofia Fonseca, 93’, Portugal 2022
  • Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen, dir. Daniel Raim, 88’, USA 2022
  • Kapr Code, dir. Lucie Králová, 91, Czech Republic, Slovakia 2022
  • Paraíso, dir. Sergio Tréfaut, 85”, Portugal, France 2021
  • Shlomo Bar – a Musical Documentary, dir. Gilad Inbar, 56’, Israel 2021
  • Sirens, dir. Rita Baghdadi, 78’, USA, Lebanon 2022
  • Crazy Days – or Making an Opera in Pandemic Times, dir. Sanne Rovers, 66’, Netherlands 2022
  • Zbigniew Seifert. Interrupted Journey, dir. Robert Kaczmarek, 80’, Poland 2021

Krakow Film Festival is included on the prestigious list of film events qualifying for the Academy Awards in the short film competition (fiction film, animated film, documentary film) and feature-length documentary film competition, as well as recommending films for the European Film Awards in the same categories.

The Kraków Film Festival is organised with the financial support of the European Union as part of the “Creative Europe” program, the City of Kraków, the Polish Film Institute, the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sports, and the Lesser Poland Province. The co-organiser is the Polish Filmmakers Association, and the main organiser is the Krakow Film Foundation. 

A full program of this year’s Festival and tickets will be available in April 2022 at www.krakowfilmfestival.pl

The Krakow Film Festival will be held in Kraków cinemas from 29 May to 5 June, and online throughout Poland on 3–12 June 2022.