62nd Krakow Film Festival

Sunday, May 29, 2022 - Sunday, June 5, 2022

  • Sunday, May 29, 2022 - Sunday, June 5, 2022

This year’s festival shows even more clearly than before that documentaries often serve as investigators, therapists and guardians of individual and collective memory.

Cinematic Madeleines

62nd Kraków Film Festival
29.05–5.06.2022 | Kraków
3–12.06.2022 | online

Justyna Skalska
Kraków Culture

When I think about Poland’s longest-running film festival, I always feel the promise of summer: horse chestnuts and lilacs have wilted, Planty Park is lush with greenery, Cracovian nights are ever shorter and I rush straight from a captivating screening at Pod Baranami Cinema to Wawel Hill to stretch out on a lounger, blanket around my shoulders, to watch another film under the stars…

Due to the pandemic, the Kraków Film Festival was held online two years ago (pioneering the formula) and in a hybrid format last year; this year’s 62nd edition reveals that the event remains open to digital space. But is this a problem? Quite the opposite! It means that vastly greater audiences can enjoy the finest recent documentaries from all over the globe.

Memory and identity

“Returning to where wild strawberries grow, exploring collective memories, recalling the taste and smell of a freshly-baked madeleine and other throwbacks to childhood such as Citizen Kane’s timeless rosebud accompany us throughout this year’s events”, says Krzysztof Gierat, director of the festival. His words are echoed by Anita Piotrowska, curator of the international documentary competition: “An important theme of this year’s events is facing up to memories and to trauma, both on the individual and collective levels.”

The former is explored by the story of the life of Leonard Cohen’s quasi-adoptive son – the fascinating documentary Little Axel. The latter mainly touches on issues in Eastern Europe, where the rapid transformations and rising populism have awoken old demons of neofascism (No Place For You in Our Town) and post-soviet longings (Novorossiya). The terrific investigative documentary Beneath the Surface reveals wide-reaching problems facing Norway, such as systemic racism and the shameful cover-ups of paedophilia. We will also see Czechia facing up to its difficult past in Reconstruction of Occupation.

We will see portrayals of individuals who have crossed the boundaries of time and space to achieve the seemingly impossible. They include the protagonist of the Polish competition Zbigniew Seifert – the acclaimed jazzman from Kraków (Zbigniew Seifert Interrupted Journey) – and Dariusz Popiela – Olympic athlete and custodian of Jewish heritage (Edge of Light).

Short stories

Solemn composure, jokes verging on the grotesque and even provocation all feature in the international short film competition comprising documentaries, features and animations.

The documentary stream includes Jay Rosenblatt’s latest film How Do You Measure a Year?, the hypnotic Forest (dir. Simon Plouffe) with its environmental message, and the stunning Iranian film Parizad (dir. Mehdi Imani Shahmiri).

Short features take us to the worlds of flavours, colours and melodies. “Although the films are wildly different in terms of temperament, style, themes and protagonists, they are united by their curiosity about the world and humankind, and by their honest, creative approach,” says curator Dagmara Romanowska. The authors take us to intimate spaces usually inaccessible to outsiders. Gila Who Walks Alone presents a slice of life in a in a cramped apartment in an ultra-Orthodox district of Jerusalem. Toby Andris takes us on a journey to beautiful Georgia in Chiatura exploring the conflict between miners and diplomats. Adam Ziajski’s debut Mandatory Presence offers an encounter with Poland’s very own daily realities.

Curator Wiola Sowa promises animations from all over the globe, including far-flung destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Lebanon. We will also see productions by acclaimed filmmakers, such as the hotly-awaited final (while also first!) part of Marta Pajek’s trilogy Impossible Figures and Other Stories I and A Brief History of Us directed by Etgar Keret based on his own short story.

Musical tales

A perennial favourite of the festival is the DocFilmMusic competition, revealing the vast opportunities offered by the genre, extending far beyond simple concert screenings. The programme includes a biopic of Kraków’s favourite Israeli drummer and singer Shlomo Bar (Shlomo Bar – A Musical Documentary), the story of the Georgian piano prodigy Atonal Glow, and the moving tale of the Argentinian twin sisters recalling their great triumphs in their autumn years (Near And Dear). We will see Brazilian seniors who regularly meet at the local park to sing and dance until the pandemic puts a stop to it (Paraiso), while an international group of artists try to stage a premiere in Amsterdam in spite of the covid restrictions (Crazy Days).

Czech dream

This year’s section Focus on… turns our attention towards Czech Republic and its unique cinematography; Czech filmmakers reach for their innate talent for observation to reveal less obvious aspects of the world around us. We will see a film about vast synchronised exercise classes for thousands of people (On Your Marks!), a documentary offering an unsentimental view of a disabled young woman’s struggle to find independence and love (I Want You If You Dare) and one of the latest films by Helena Třeštíkova, maestro of Czech documentary-making and winner of the Dragon of Dragons (Anny). Any review of Czech cinema would be incomplete without recalling its cult kids’ animations such as The Mole, Pat & Mat and Fairy Tales of Moss and Fern which will be screened outdoors at the foot of Wawel Hill and by the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre.

Wild strawberries

“If I have been worried or sad during the day, it often calms me to recall childhood memories,” says Dr. Eberhard Isak Borg, protagonist of Ingmar Bergman’s classic Wild Strawberries. The Docs+Science section is dedicated to memories and looking back to the past. “Science means studying memories written in cultural heritage and in matter such as rocks, ice and genes. When we’re observing space, we are seeing it as it was in the past rather than as it is now. Even when we conduct physical experiments we register events from the past. (…) These are some of the topics covered by the documentaries we have selected for you this year,” promises Karol Jałochowski, curator of Docs+Science.


This year’s special guest is the multi-award winning director Sergei Loznitsa with his latest monumental documentary Mr. Landsbergis. Running for over four hours, the film chronicles events in Lithuania between 1989 and 1991 from the perspective of Vytautas Landsbergis, one of the founders of the country’s independence movement and guest at this year’s festival.

The organisers are also promising a retrospective of this year’s winner of the Dragon of Dragons Jarmo Jääskeläinen; known for his films documenting the violent changes in 1970s and 1980s Poland, the director passed away earlier this year. As usual, the programme includes permanent non-competition sections and meetings held as part of the KFF Industry cycle.

As spring turns into summer, our search for lost time from before the pandemic will immerse us in cinematic dreams and memories!

For whom: for children, for seniors, for families
Other: open air event, free admission, acceptable for people with disabilities
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