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In 2009 the Warsaw Film Festival joined the elite group of events recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (www.fiapf.org) as international film festivals - next to Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, San Sebastian, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Moscow, Mar del Plata, Montreal, Shanghai, Cairo, Goa, and Tallinn.
The WFF differs from other festivals in its programme, just as Warsaw differs from other cities. Selecting the films, we always remember about our audience - native Varsovians, those working or studying in Warsaw, and those in town for a short while, for instance only for the Festival.
We do our best to make sure that our audiences get to know the latest and most interesting trends in world cinema as soon as possible. In this way, WFF audiences - usually as the first people in Poland - could discover American independent cinema as well as Asian, Latin American, Iranian, Russian and Romanian cinema. Time has always been a major consideration: capturing the moment of the greatest success, the peak. Our aim is to show a film before it wins an Oscar, to introduce a director to Warsaw audiences before he or she wins an award at the Cannes festival. We don’t chase filmmakers who are already famous. Some of the most amazing directors, like Michael Haneke, Cristian Mungiu, Paweł Pawlikowski, Ari Folman, Ashgar Farhadi, Lenny Abrahamson and hundreds of others, had usually been guests of the WFF before they reached the top.
We have been expanding the professional part of the WFF for over fifteen years. We realize that film festivals are part of the giant mechanism that is the global film industry. We do our best to make sure that the world takes note of Polish films, that they get screened at leading festivals, that they find their way into international distribution.
We started off modestly, in 2000, with screenings of new Polish projects for barely a dozen foreign guests. Five years later, we held the CentEast Market for the first time: a meeting place for professionals interested in films from Eastern Europe, described by The Hollywood Reporter as “the go-to event”. As of 2009, together with our Russian partner TVINDIE we have been presenting - in Warsaw and Moscow - films that are still works-in-progress but in which we want to interest sales agents and distributors. In 2012 we started a collaboration with Beijing-based Film Factory. Thanks to our joint initiative called the China-Eastern Europe Film Promotion Project, films from Poland and Eastern Europe are presented every year in China, which is becoming the world’s biggest film market in front of our eyes.
Together with FIPRESCI, we organize workshops for young film journalists and critics. Young filmmakers can participate in the CentEast Next workshops. Leading Polish editors reveal the secrets of their profession to the WFF’s audiences.
There are new challenges ahead. Like every year, I invite you to the Festival’s latest edition in the hope that it will be a great adventure for all.
Director of the Warsaw Film Festival