Millennium Docs Against Gravity moves back to its traditional May slot after two pandemic years! The 19th edition of Poland's biggest film festival will take place in cinemas from May 13 to 22 and online on mdag.pl from May 24 to June 5! The unforgettable film experience available to the viewers in arthouse cinemas in eight festival cities – Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin – will be accompanied by meetings with filmmakers and protagonists, as well as debates on important questions addressed by the presented films. It will be a great opportunity to see the latest developments in international documentary filmmaking screened in Poland for the first time!
The world we live in, heavily dominated by uncertainty in recent times, requires us to show solidarity and think about ways of shaping the future together. Therefore the motto of the festival – "Rethink Everything", taken from the film Going Circular (dir. Richard Dale, Nigel Walk) – is an invitation to re-examine our view of the world. We want the festival to bring hope and inspire action!
This year, our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine suffering from the Russian invasion. As a sign of solidarity, we want to present films focusing on the culture and history of our eastern neighbours. The program of the festival features documentaries about: the poster boy of the Ukrainian revolution (Outside, dir. Olha Zhurba), the influence the Russian annexation of Crimea had on art (The Treasures of Crimea, dir. Oeke Hoogendijk), the brilliant Ukrainian artist and visionary Florian Jur'jev (Infinity According to Florian, dir. Oleksiy Radynski), a children's shelter in eastern Ukraine (A House Made of Splinters, dir. Simon Lereng Wilmont) and the atrocities of World War II, painfully evident in the tragic events in Babi Yar in 1941 (Babi Yar. Context, dir. Sergei Loznitsa). The film, which premiered at Cannes, draws a frightening parallel between historical and current events. The Polish premiere of Babi Yar. Context will be accompanied by an online retrospective of Loznitsa's work.
At the 19th Millennium Docs Against Gravity, we will present several new sections. Love Stories features films about love: for people and volcanoes, in extreme conditions and at the world’s end, in reality and the virtual world. The documentaries included in the Science Will Save Us section offer vital information on the circular economy, lab-grown meat, vaccines, melting glaciers and other important topics. They give hope and provide concrete solutions to change our reality. Before You Grow Up presents films that follow young protagonists as they search for their path, often defying the harsh reality. Meanwhile, The Different Faces of the Far East focuses on daily life in Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Vietnam. What emerges is a panorama of a region constantly undergoing dynamic social, cultural and political changes.
This year for the first time we present the Short Film Competition – a selection of documentaries from all around the world, each under 45 minutes long. Thanks to their diverse subject matter, they constitute an ideal starting point from which to explore the issues addressed in the feature-length films shown at the festival. We have also prepared the very first Susan Sontag retrospective in Poland! It features both the early documentaries by the acclaimed American essayist and pop culture icon, as well as her feature films. Our audience will also be able to get acquainted with the films of the avant-garde master Bill Morrison, known for his remarkable work with found footage. His retrospective includes over 17 titles in total!
This year’s program also features films by outstanding filmmakers and hits from the world’s top festivals. The Oscar-winning British director Andrea Arnold will present her latest film Cow – a moving portrait of a dairy cow named Luma, which premiered in Cannes. We will also show films screened and awarded at Sundance: the already mentioned A House Made of Splinters (Best Directing Award in World Cinema Documentary Competition), a story of a friendship between a Muslim and a Buddhist midwife in conflict-ridden Myanmar – Midwives (Special Jury Award: Excellence in Verité Filmmaking in World Cinema Documentary Competition), a short film about the Kosovar table tennis players – Displaced (Jury Award: Nonfiction in the Short Film Competition), the first film shot entirely inside the world of VR – We Met In Virtual Reality and the energetic portrait of a senior dance team from Florida – Calendar Girls.
Once again the festival will host the competition for the Best Polish Film. Among the eight documentaries competing for the award, are the latest works by well-known directors – in their film Flight Anna Zakrzewska and Łukasz Ronduda present a portrait of Roman Stańczak, legendary performer and sculptor of the 90s, whereas Angels of Sinjar by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-nominated Hanna Polak is an exposé of a terrible crime against humanity – the genocide of Yezidis by ISIS.
The 19th Millennium Docs Against Gravity will be a fascinating journey not only around the world but also through many important questions regarding ecology, politics, psychology, human rights, art (including avant-garde art), pop culture and family relations. Join us!
To find out more about the festival: