• Thursday, Sep. 19, 2019
Poland's top filmmakers protest festival admission rules
Pawel Pawlikowsky (photo by Magda Wunsche & Aga Samsel)
  • WARSAW, Poland (AP)
  • --

Academy Award-winning Pawel Pawlikowski and other top Polish filmmakers are demanding artistic independence for the nation's most prestigious film festival after a politically charged movie was withdrawn.

The filmmakers' guild wants the selection procedure for the ongoing annual Polish Film Festival in Gdynia to become independent from its organizers. These include the Culture Ministry, which tends to promote art in line with the conservative government's policy.

The appeal came late Wednesday, after the last-minute withdrawal of a movie inspired by the Amber Gold pyramid scheme that was revealed in 2012, when the current government's opponents were in power.  It was one of Poland's biggest financial scandals in which some 19,000 investors lost over 850 million zlotys ($225 million).

The "Solid Gold" movie was generally believed to be harmful to the opposition ahead of Oct. 13 elections, but its producers had it withdrawn after its director, Jacek Bromski, refused to re-edit it. Government-controlled television TVP is among the producers.

In reaction, Bromski said he understood that since he "did not agree for the movie to be used for propaganda purposes ahead of the elections, TVP pressured the main producer to have my movie withdrawn from all planned festival screenings, including those for which tickets had been sold."

Pawlikowski and other filmmakers like Agnieszka Holland and Malgorzata Szumowska demanded that the festival should have an independent artistic director and that movie selection be made independent of the organizing body, in the best interest of Poland's successfully developing cinematography. They threatened to launch a separate festival.

"We would like to believe that truly the best movies are chosen" for the festival, the guild's head, Andrzej Jakimowski, said. "We would like to believe that the jury is not put under any pressure."

Initiated in the 1970s the festival promotes Poland's cinematography. Its jury awards Golden Lions and Silver Lions to movies it considers best. Its 2019 edition runs through Saturday.

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