Jury Member Jana Cisar on Warsaw Film Festival’s Future


Warsaw Film Festival 2012, 28th edition
Jury member, Jana Cisar
Documentary Competition


Thanks to the team at the Warsaw Film Festival 2012, we were able to plan a quicky eastward to enjoy the final resolutions in its last days. Nested in the spaces between some fierce film competition, we met a few interesting people, attended an intimate but well run film market and became teary for all the wrong reasons at the awards ceremony.

We sat down with Jury member Jana Cisar to hear her thoughts on the festival’s outcomes this year. Czech born Cisar is a Berlin based film producer, living in Germany since 1969. Aside to her off-the-page experience as a producer, she has sat as chairperson of the documentary film jury of the 2007 Finale Plzen, National Film Festival, Czechoslovakia, was member of the short film jury for the 2005 Trieste Film Festival, Italy and was key member of the short film jury for the 2004 Festival Cottbus -Festival of East-European Cinema, Germany.

‘I didn’t expect it to be so big! The theaters were full, especially in the afternoon and evening,’ she began. ‘It was very crowded. I like it when cinemas are full you know. It was a young, full and an engaged audience.’ Focussing on the attendance and its positive impact on the filmmakers’ experience, we immediately gained a quick sense of Cisar’s somewhat infectious verve for the creators behind festivals like this. We sat with wide eyes and ears for her every following word:

On the festival’s organization:

‘The festival itself was organized really really well. Well, maybe it is hard for me because I am a jury member – but really from the organization – they did a great job. Marcin and Martina, head of guest service did an amazing job looking after us.’

On the documentary feature section:

‘The screening documentaries were largely films that had been shown around the world before this. THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is a huge film which will begin distribution in the US and I am sure it will also come to Europe. We really like the film also but I think it will be Oscar nominated. I think it doesn’t make sense to award films which are already in the program with an audience set up. I think if there is a competition there should be fresh new films having a chance.’

On the documentary feature winner:

FUCK FOR FOREST is really a fresh way of filmmaking. The first ten, fifteen minutes I thought ‘oh! What is going on here!’ Having seen only the trailer and overheard hushed conversations surrounding nudity and group sex, we all laughed knowingly…‘Then I think it changed you know? The camera is so close that it becomes invisible. He is so close to the protagonists and their lives but still retains a criticism in the way we see them. Everyone was all saying during the week ‘oh Fuck For Forest’ and I was like ‘hmmm, lets see’. I was astonished how it changed; I got completely into the story. I was fascinated by the fresh, young way of living. All of us on the jury agreed instantly they would be the winners.’

On the documentary’s future:

‘The Director, Michał Marczak is Polish but studied in the US. The producer is German and they have a distributor in Germany: Neue Visionen. Energetic after this world premiere, the film will start in Polish theaters with 30 prints. They seem really ambitious.’ We could see by the way she spoke of them how excited she was to watch over their shoulder at their next success. These types of films energized Cisar which energized us to know more of her experience. We transgressed to the A Festival level Warsaw were granted back in 2009. As the newest edition of competitive film festivals, our few days spent there had shown us that it certainly needed continuous polishing.

On the A List:

‘If you compare it to Cannes, well, it is a very, very different style festival. The thing with this A status, it may be important but I don’t know to whom. You can’t compare it with Berlin, Cannes and Venice. I don’t know how many press people are at the festival. Maybe this is a major difference with Warsaw and other A festivals. A festivals always are so big; the networking is hard, everybody is rushed and there is little time for promoting smaller films or space for discoveries.’

On the film market:

‘Usually the A category festivals need a film market. Its a regulation. Warsaw runs the CentEast market for two days, where professionals who are interested in Central Eastern European Film are invited. They show films from the region. They have The Warsaw Screenings in the afternoons. This is a great opportunity for filmmakers from the region to meet with buyers. It is not a market like Berlin when the whole world comes and I don’t think the filmmakers need this. I think the way Warsaw did it was really well done.’

We smiled to each other knowingly when we heard this spoken through Cisar. When initiatives to introduce filmmakers to potential partners are treated seriously in the festival’s production, we feel very happy with that festival’s potential for growth.

Thanks to the exuberant Jana Cisar for helping us articulate.


MORE: Warsaw Film Festival on FilmFestivalLife

MORE: He sleeps with Polanski: Marcin Łuczaj on his Polish love affair with Żubroffka

Claire French

Claire French is the Marketing and Communications Director at FFL. Her editorial training is grounded in Arts Management, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Communications and Media, Notre Dame University, Fremantle. Her film experience includes her position as Festival Director of Perth's Bamboo Mainstage Amphitheater. Reach her at claire@filmfestivallife.com

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