Movies everywhere all at once

Get ready for the 21st Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival, which is coming to Poznań for the fifth time. Following the theme "In Relation to the World," this year's iteration promises to showcase the finest documentaries covering a wide range of subjects spanning politics, sociology, culture, and sports. Catch these gripping documentaries at the Muza cinema from 10th to 19th May, and online from 21st May to 3rd June.

Audiences in the cinema watch a movie on a big screen. It is dark, the room is illuminated only by the light from the screen. - grafika artykułu
photograph: Maciej Zakrzewski

Millennium Docs Against Gravity stands out as a one-of-a-kind event, being Europe's only film festival to unfold simultaneously in eight major cities: Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Lublin, Bydgoszcz, and Łódź. The festival is evolving to be "nomadic", living up to the demands of the 21st century, reaching out to audiences across the country. We believe such is the future of film festivals. Last year's 20th anniversary edition drew an impressive audience of over 144,000 people. And the accolades keep pouring in, with the festival earning a spot on MovieMaker Magazine's list of the World's 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World and being recognised by the European Film Academy as one of the "most important European film festivals," affording filmmakers the opportunity to compete for the prestigious European Film Awards.

Rather than resting on its laurels, MDAG is forging ahead with their mission. "In May, we're inviting viewers on a cinematic journey around the globe and exploring their inner depths," announce the organisers. "Following our theme, this year we're delving into interpersonal relationships, showcasing the intricate complexity of human nature. On the one hand, we celebrate friendship, love, and empathy. On the other, we confront the self-destruction of our species and its role in the degradation of our planet, which is not only our home," explains Karol Piekarczyk, MDAG's artistic director.

So, what's in store for our city during the festival? "At the Muza cinema, we'll screen over 50 of the latest films, many of them award-winners from prestigious festivals," reveals Olga Sokal, spokesperson for the Poznań part of the festival. "We encourage you to curate your own 'must-see' list. To help, we've categorised the films thematically, providing guidance for those tough decisions," she adds.

You should certainly set aside time for the films featured in the Main Competition. This year, these are 12 pictures directed by 10 women and 9 men. They have been previously showcased at esteemed events such as Berlinale as well as Sundance, Venice, and Rotterdam festivals and include the likes of "Hollywoodgate" by Ibrahim Nash'at-a provocative exploration of the Taliban and their view of the rest of the world, "Nocturnes"-a contemplative portrayal of nature in the eastern Himalayas by Anupama Srinivasan and Anirban Dutta, "Ibelin" by Benjamin Ree-a poignant tale of a Norwegian gamer who passed away at 25 from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, leaving behind his computer password to his parents, allowing them to uncover his rich and eventful online life, and "Mother Vera" by Cécile Embleton and Alys Tomlinson-a stark portrayal of an escape from an addiction to a convent.

The twelve contenders will once again vie for the coveted Grand Prix title. Additionally, films from the Main Competition will be in the running for the Freedom Award, generously sponsored by the City of Poznań, now in its fourth year. A local three-person jury will be tasked with selecting the film that best upholds the fundamental principles of freedom and champions dignity and human rights through its documentary narrative. This year, the Poznań jury comprises journalist, director, and documentary producer Ewa Ewart, historian Agnieszka Jankowiak-Maik, affectionately known as Babka od Histy (the History Teacher), and screenwriter/director of both feature and documentary films Klaudiusz Chrostowski. The winning production will earn a prize of € 3,000. The verdict will be announced, and the trophy presented during the festival's official closing gala at Muza cinema on Thursday, 16th May, at 8:30 p.m.

Also to be featured is a selection of homegrown productions, many of which are part of the Polish Competition. Audiences get to view films depicting the life of writer Marek Hłasko, the band Cool Kids of Death, the activists of the Abortion Dream Team, and more. Additionally, two Polish-made films have earned spots in the Main Competition. "Ostatnia wyprawa" ("The Last Expedition"), directed by Eliza Kubarska, chronicles the remarkable journey of Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman from Poland to conquer the highest peaks on Earth. Meanwhile, "Las" ("The Forest"), directed by Lidia Duda, tells the story of Asia and Marek, who, after purchasing an old house in the Białowieża Forest after their graduation, find themselves unexpectedly hosting refugees, who are unwelcome in both Poland and Belarus. Despite the legal hurdles, the entire family lends a helping hand to those in need.

"The Poznań edition of the festival has a packed schedule with numerous special events, including meetups with creators, debates, workshops, and discussions. For details, turn to our website. Beyond filmmaker sessions, there's plenty happening across Poznań, including events at Rewiry or Lokum Stonewall," says Olga Sokal.

Many films will make their debuts during the 21st edition of MDAG. If you're unable to secure a ticket, do not despair as the online segment of the festival on running from 21st May to 23rd June will offer further opportunities to catch the films of your choice.

Anna Solak

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • 21st Millennium Docs Against Gravity
  • 10-19 May (Muza cinema), 21 May - 3 June (online)
  • For further details, see:

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2024