Paweł Pawlikowski to head the jury of the Main Competition at the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity

Eminent Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski, recipient of a Palme d’Or and an Oscar® for Ida, will be presiding over the jury of the Main Competition at Poland’s biggest documentary film festival, to be held in six Polish cities on May 8-24, 2020.

Documentary beginnings

Pawlikowski’s career as a film director began with documentaries. His mischievous, acclaimed From Moscow to Pietushki: A Journey with Benedict Yerofeyev (1990), an interview with the great writer, resulted from his collaboration with BBC, as did the cult British docu-drama Twockers (1998) about a small-time crook trying to go straight. When Fyodor Dostoevsky’s great-grandson was invited to Germany by fans of the famous author, Pawlikowski chronicled the trip in Dostoevsky’s Travels: the man, a tram driver by profession, knew very little about his ancestor and was mainly interested in obtaining his dream car–a Mercedes. 1992’s Serbian Epics, a portrait of war criminal Radovan Karadžić, further cemented Pawlikowski’s position as a leading documentary filmmaker.

Slavic themes

Transitioning to feature films, Pawlikowski chose the story of an amateur reporter for his feature debut, The Stringer (1998), casting Sergei Bodrov–the greatest star of Russian media at the time–in the leading role. His second feature, Last Resort (2000), was a Slavic tale as well: its protagonist was a Russian immigrant seeking asylum in Great Britain. Pawlikowski’s next movie, My Summer of Love (2004), portrayed a summertime affair between two girls from completely different worlds. This film cemented his status as one of the most interesting contemporary directors and the role of Tamsin launched Emily Blunt’s career. Pawlikowski’s tale of madness and a relationship grounded in obsession, The Woman in the Fifth, based on the novel by Douglas Kennedy, premiered at the 2011 Cannes festival, starring Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Joanna Kulig.

Masterpieces of contemporary cinema

Two independent black-and-white films, 2013’s Ida and 2017’s Cold War, brought Pawlikowski international acclaim and the highest cinematic laurels. His story about a nun discovering her true origins won the BAFTA Film Award for Best Film Not in the English Language as well as an Oscar®, making Ida the first Polish movie to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Cold War was similarly successful, qualifying to the Main Competition of the 71st Cannes Film Festival–the first Polish film since Interrogation in 1990. Pawlikowski won the Palme d’Or for Best Director; his directorial prowess was also recognized at the 2018 European Film Awards as Cold War was selected Best Film, additionally winning top prizes for European Editor (Jarosław Kamiński), European Screenwriter (Pawlikowski himself), and European Actress (Joanna Kulig).

Given Pawlikowski’s documentary past and impressive achievements, we asked the director to preside over the jury which will determine the winner of the Bank Millennium Award at the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival.

Hits of the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival

The Festival recently broke the news about the first entries to this year’s MDAG schedule. The lineup includes two movies about Syria nominated for an Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature–For Sama and The Cave. The Polish Lesson of Love, following 69-year-old Jola as she rebuilds her life after a long, toxic relationship and returns to Poland after many years in Italy, is also sure to make a splash this year.

This year’s edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity will be held on May 8-24 in six Polish cities. Bank Millennium, the titular sponsor of the event, has been associated with the Festival since 2006. Last year’s screenings and additional events attracted over 58 000 attendees in Warsaw alone (a 46% increase from 2018); the nationwide attendance numbers totaled nearly 93 000.

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