Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Warsaw Film Festival has a history going back twenty-six years. We have travelled a long way - from a modest though ambitious student event to a genuine film festival with a programme of premieres.
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.
The cultural backwardness inherited from the previous system, a system that cut us off from our original civilization for half a century, is not getting smaller. The world is rushing forward faster and faster. That makes us try even harder to make sure that our audiences get to know the latest and most interesting trends in world cinema as soon as possible, often in the form of national and regional presentations. 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 have been expanding the professional part of the WFF for over ten years. We realize that film festivals are part of a 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 2009 the Warsaw Film Festival became one of 14 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, and Goa.
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