Booming Polish Biz Brings Buzz Titles to Cannes

With Jonathan Glazer’s Auschwitz-set Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” competing for the Palme d’Or and a host of Polish producers bringing buzzy upcoming projects to the Marché du Film, the Polish industry should again have Cannes talking. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights:

The Zone of Interest
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Producers: James Wilson, Ewa Puszczyńska (JW Films, Extreme Emotions)
Sales: A24
The veteran British filmmaker’s first film in nearly a decade, which will compete for the Palme d’Or, is a Holocaust drama loosely based on the novel by Martin Amis that’s sure to be among the festival’s most talked-about films.

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In the Rearview
Director: Maciek Hamela
Producers: Piotr Grawender, Maciek Hamela, Jean-Marie Gigon (Affinity Cine, Impakt Film, SaNoSi Productions, 435 FILMS)
Sales: N/A
Filmed in the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Hamela’s documentary is a collective portrait of Ukrainians searching for a safe haven and finding temporary asylum in a van traversing their war-torn country.

The Green Border
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Producers: Marcin Wierzchosławski, Fred Bernstein, Agnieszka Holland (Metro Films, Astute Films)
Sales: Films Boutique
The latest from the Oscar nominee tells the story of a family of Syrian refugees, a solitary English teacher from Afghanistan and a young border guard, all of whom meet on the Polish-Belarusian border during the most recent humanitarian crisis.

Two Sisters
Director: Łukasz Karwowski
Producers: Nadia Korotushka, Anastasiia Lodkina, Serg Demidov (Film.UA Group, Zoom Media)
Sales: N/A
Selected by the Tallinn Black Nights Goes to Cannes pix-in-post showcase presented at the Marché du Film, this road movie follows two sisters who set off from Poland to Ukraine to bring their wounded father home.

Two Sisters
Two Sisters

Director: Jan P. Matuszyński
Producer: Wonder Films
Sales: N/A
The follow-up to Matuszyński’s Venice competition selection “Leave No Traces” tells the story of a Polish man who, after losing his daughter, joins his father-in-law to perform the Chinese ritual of minghun, a post-mortem wedding that sends the duo on an emotional personal journey.

Oy Gevalt! 
Director: David Szurmiej
Producers: Katarzyna Kaczmarek, David Szurmiej (Studio AGART)
Sales: N/A
An offbeat musical comedy about a 19th-century theater troupe that died during the bubonic plague — only to wake up 200 years later in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Billed as the first Polish film since 1939 to feature characters speaking in Yiddish.

Symmetry of the Island
Director: Anna Kazejak
Producers: Marta Lewandowska, Yorgos Tsourgiannis (Friends With Benefits Studio, Horsefly Productions)
Sales: N/A
From the director of the Karlovy Vary premiere “Fucking Bornholm” comes a film, based on a fragment of Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk’s “Flights,” that follows a middle-aged man on whose wife and son suddenly disappear on a foreign vacation. As he begins his search, everyone around him turns into a possible suspect.

Director: Tadeusz Łysiak
Producer: Stanisław Dziedzic (Film Produkcja)
Sales: N/A
Oscar-nominated in the short film category, Łysiak’s feature debut is a psychological thriller about a couple whose lives are turned upside-down after the disappearance of their 10-year-old daughter when the husband suspects that his wife might be to blame.

Black Madonna
Director: Łukasz Ronduda
Producer: Mariusz Włodarski (Lava Films)
Sales: N/A
The story of a Black general of the Polish Legions sent by Napoleon to suppress the uprising of former slaves in Haiti, Ronduda’s latest follows the search for identity, faith and freedom, in which Polish romantic ghost beliefs blend with Haitian voodoo tales.

You Were Not Supposed to Be Here
Director: Kuba Michalczuk
Producers: Kuba Kosma, Kasia Sarnowska (Serce)
Sales: N/A
When Ryfka unexpectedly reunites with her estranged father, he takes it upon himself to try to help the struggling 17-year-old. Despite their initial reluctance, they soon learn that there’s more that unites them than divides them.

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