The Hamlet Syndrome, the latest work by one of the most important duos in Polish cinema, Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, will open this year’s Kraków Film Festival. The documentary, which is an intriguing portrait of the war-torn generation of young Ukrainians, will be screened during the opening evening on 29 May in the Kijów cinema.
“To be or not to be” – during a war these words take on a variety of new shades. The film shows the stories of “children of the revolution, naive rebels, dreamers brutally plucked from their sleep” – as theatre director Roza Sarkisian describes her peers. Several months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a group of young people are working on a performance where Shakespeare speaks the language of their own doubts, fears, and dreams. Behind this are various experiences of the “Maidan generation”. Some are working through their trauma after returning from the war in Donbas, others face questions about what the Ukrainian fight is really about and how their country should change. For a moment, life, theatre, and cinema become one and we are witnessing an emotional psychodrama.
We couldn’t have made any other decision. We are opening the festival with a film that isn’t recounting the terrible events in Ukraine directly, since it has just been completed, but is dramatic and harrowing in showing a generation for whom Hamlet’s dilemmas are more than a textbook literary analysis – says Krzysztof Gierat, director of the Krakow Film Festival. – Opening the festival with this film is a clear signal that we want to underscore our solidarity with the Ukrainian nation against the Russian aggression from the first moments of the festival.
The film was finished just before the outbreak of the war in 2022, and in the light of current events, one can’t stop thinking about the fates of its protagonists. Today, three of our heroes: Katia, Sławik, and Roman are fighting in the ranks of the Ukrainian army. Rodion, a stylist, now sews military uniforms. In turn, Oksana has been in Warsaw for a year now and works as an actress at Teatr Powszechny”– says Elwira Niewiera, co-director of the film.
We’re in constant contact with our protagonists. The barbaric war taking place in Ukraine is such an unimaginably painful experience that the most important thing we can do now is to support them as much as possible. We have been helping our heroes from the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially those who are actively fighting. We sent them numerous transports with the most necessary military and medical equipment – adds Piotr Rosołowski, co-director and cinematographer.
The documentary The Hamlet Syndrome will open the Krakow Film Festival and will take part in two competitions: the international documentary film competition and the national competition. It’s the third production of the outstanding Polish duo of directors, Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski. The previous ones, The Prince and the Dybbuk and Domino Effect, were recognised and awarded at international festivals around the world.
Domino Effect brought its creators nominations to, among others, Paszport Polityki, as well as awards at the most important documentary festivals such as the Krakow Film Festival, the Budapest International Documentary Festival, Visions du Reel in Switzerland, Golden Apricot in Armenia, DokuFest in Kosovo, or DOK Leipzig. The Prince and The Dybbuk won numerous awards, including the Eagle – the Polish Film Award for best documentary film and the Venezia Classici award in Venice for the best film about cinema.
Piotr Rosołowski is also a successful cinematographer and co-creator of the Oscar-nominated Rabbit à la Berlin (dir. Bartosz Konopka) and Reto Caffi’s short film On the Line.
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 festival also qualifies for BAFTA awards in the short documentary and fiction film category.
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 May 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.