Two Polish films have been honored at the DocumentaMadrid 2015. This festival features thirty-four documentaries from all over the world, and awards are given for full-length and short documentaries. Hanna Polak won the Second Prize of the Jury for Something Better to Come, and Michał Szcześniak won a special mention for his short film Starting Point (Punkt Wyjscia).
Something Better to Come
The first of these films, Something Better to Come, follows the story of Yula, a young girl who lives near the largest junkyard in Europe, Svalka, located right outside of Moscow. Trapped by physical boundaries such as barbed wire and armed guards, Yula manages to live and love in this unimaginable place with her fellow group of lawless inhabitants. Together they are able to form their own society and dream of a time when they can escape their fate. Polak filmed the documentary over the course of thirteen years, chronicling Yula’s development.
Polak, the director of the film, graduated from the Cinematography Division of the Cinematography Institute of the Russian Federation. Her work on Railway Station Ballad earned her the Best Producer of Documentary and Short Fiction Movies in Poland in 2002. She is also well-known for her HBO film The Children of Leningradsky, which was nominated for an Oscar as well as several other awards in 2005. Polak is also an activist and campaigns for the rights of homeless children through UNICEF and the Active Child Aid foundation.
Something Better to Come has received various international accolades as well, including the Special Jury Award in Feature-Length Competition at IDFA (the Netherlands), the grand prix at ArtDoc (Russia) The Alpe Adria Cinema Award for Best Documentary at the Trieste Film Festival (Italy), a special mention at ZagrebDox (Croatia), and the Youth Jury Award at the International Film & Forum on Human Rights (Switzerland). It has also been shown at the One World Festival (Czech Republic), DocPoint (Finland), Tempo Documentary Festival (Sweden), True/False Festival (USA), and the Thessaloniki Festival (Greece). The production was based out of Denmark and Poland.
Starting Point (Punkt Wyjscia)
Starting Point (Punkt Wyjscia) was also honored at DocumentaMadrid. This documentary is the story of realization and understanding. The main character, Aneta,is sent to prison for a murder at the age of 19. After her nine-year sentence, she becomes a caretaker for an elderly woman named Helena. By caring for Helena during her bouts of rheumatism, Aneta comes to realize that she has a lot going for her and that she should believe in herself.
Michał Szcześniak was the recipient of a Polish Filmmakers Association young film artist’s grant in 2013. His other works, including A Boat, Goliath, Look: Free Will (Patrze: Wolnawola), and Sashka, Sashka, have all won awards as well. Szcześniak is also a writer: He has written for Trendy and Art of Living, and his book For the Wolf (Dlawilka) will be published soon.
Starting Point has been featured at the 14th T-Mobile New Horizons (Poland), 22nd International Film Festival Camerimage (Poland), 57th International Leipzig Festival for Documenatry and Animated Film DOK (Germany), International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA 2014 (The Netherlands) / 20th Vilnius International Film Festival (Lithuania), Sundance Film Festival (USA), TRT Documentary Awards, 2015 (Turkey), and Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Ukraine).
The Onternational Documentary Film Festivval DocumentaMadrid is organized by Cineteca and the City Council of Madrid. A full list of the winners can be found on the festival's site .