“The right thing won, but not the best of the competition films” – this is the opinion I heard in the backstage of the Gdynia event from many people, right after the jury’s verdict was announced. Golden Lions awarded Łukasz Ronduda and Łukasz Gutt to “All our fears”. An important and necessary film. However, I sign with both hands that the productions were more fulfilled in the competition. Justyna Kobus comments on the verdict of the jury of the 46th Gdynia 2021 Feature Film Festival.
At the gala at the Musical Theater in Gdynia, no one pretended that the jury’s verdict chaired by director Andrzej Barański was not a surprise. It was huge. This year’s Polish candidate for the Oscar – “Let there be no traces” – or the great “Hyacinth” by Domalewski were the favorites of not only the Oscar-winning selection committee, but also a large part of the festival audience. “Hyacynt” was the longest applauded film of this year’s festival, although it is not a “light and pleasant” film, such as the hit “Najmro”, which he defeated in the reins.
The work of both artists, who meticulously recreate the “represented world”, is also impressive – in both cases they are talking about the 1980s. Sure, it is not the momentum of the production that determines its artistic value. However, both titles are fulfilled films, of the kind that can emotionally “crawl” the viewer.
So what influenced the jurors’ decision? It is true that All Our Fears is a successful film made with sensitivity. However, it does not have the specific weight that both “Hyacinth” and “That there are no traces” have. The question is: didn’t the jury hurt the creators of the above-mentioned productions with this decision?
Our Oscar candidate had to settle for the second most important statuette – the Silver Lions and the award for the scenery. The award in the “Screenplay” category went to Marcin Ciastoń for “Hyacynta”. He was also honored for his make-up.
For a good cause
“All Our Fears” is an important and moving film – it is beyond dispute. However, there is no impact of even “God’s body”, also touching on the subject of faith and spirituality. By the way, Jan Komasa’s film – according to the Gdynia jury – did not deserve the main prize either. In 2019, the statuette was won by Agnieszka Holland’s “Citizen Jones”.
But let’s go back to the movie Ronduda.
The plot was inspired by the true story of Daniel Rycharski, an artist who has long been trying to create a bridge between the Polish Church and the LGBT community. The protagonist played by Dawid Ogrodnik in the film was brought up in the countryside and has always been involved in the life of the Church, despite the fact that, as a non-heteronormative person, he faces homophobia. He desperately wants to reconcile his homosexuality (open and manifested through his own art) with Catholicism.
The Gdynia jury’s verdict in the situation of the ongoing campaign against LGBT people in our country has, of course, a special meaning. Probably no one doubts that he is a voice for a good cause.
Barański, justifying the decision, explained that given the high and equal level of the films in the competition, the members of the jury decided to choose the one that would be “beautiful and up-to-date”. This is an unconvincing argument. The same can be said about the paintings by Matuszyński and Domalewski, even though the action of both takes place in the past. The film about the case of Grzegorz Przemyk is all the more terrifying because we remember Igor Stachowiak, who was tortured in the Wrocław police station in 2016, or the recent death in the local sobering-up center of a young Ukrainian. Domalewski’s gay love story centered around the “Hyacinth” campaign, ie the persecution of gays in the People’s Republic of Poland, might as well be played out today.
Therefore, it is difficult to shake off the impression that the importance of the topic was what might have influenced the jurors’ decision. But are noble motives sufficient? Shouldn’t the only be the artistic values of the competition films?
“All Our Fears” is undoubtedly a picture that deserves a distinction (the script itself seems to be the strongest point of the film), but is it really a film of the Golden Lions? In my opinion, perfect for the Jury’s Special Award (not awarded at all this year).
The film was also honored with an important prize for the best cinematography, while it is separated from the amazing night / winter pictures by Piotr Sobociński in “Hyacinth” by a chasm. It is hard to believe that the excellent cinematographer, juror Bogdan Dziworski, did not appreciate their craftsmanship. From the screening of “Hiacynt”, Sobociński was selected for the award unanimously.
Best festival actor without an award
However, this is not the end of the jury’s strange decisions. They were amazed that there was no award for the acting king of this festival – Tomasz Ziętek. This year I have not met a person in Gdynia who, when asked about the best actor in the main male role, would not mention him. So this award seemed obvious.
The actor has created two brilliant and completely different leading roles. In “Lest There Be Traces”, he played Przemyk’s friend and witness to the crime, he brought out the enormity of the pain of a man fighting for justice, aware of his own helplessness. In “Hyacinth” his protagonist – muted and gruff – is in turn a classic character straight from cinema noir. Until he falls in love with his guide.
“A miracle would have to happen so that Ziętek would not receive the award this year,” we wrote in the festival report. And it became. The award went to Jacek Beler for his good role in Aleksandra Terpińska’s debut feature “Other People”. Despite everything, Ziętek is sorry. The film itself was also honored for the best directorial debut. Deservedly.
The jurors and viewers were exceptionally unanimous in the case of the award for the main female role. She was received by the beautiful and excellent as Kalina Jędrusik Maria Dębska for her role in the production of “Because there is sex in me”. The movie itself, unfortunately, is not very successful.
If anyone had any doubts that for several years Polish cinema has been ruled by young, and every year younger and younger filmmakers, the 46th edition of the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia dispels these illusions for good.
Main photo source: FPFF / Jaroslaw Sosinski