Polish pitch perfect

Polish pitch perfect

On the eve of the Krakow Film Festival Industry event, Katarzyna Wilk of Polish Docs outlines the effectiveness of the pitch event, and how the switch to online is proving very beneficial in 2020.


Everybody wants a return to normal, where festival deals, negotiations, chance encounters and quality networking can continue into the evening, after a day jam-packed with curated meetings and choreographed pitches. As a principle, that is kind of axiomatic.


But there is no denying the new appeal of online, especially when the decision makers you have been courting for many years can finally set aside a few hours in their agenda for virtual attendance from home (as opposed to a very expensive trip replete with long flights, near exhaustion and added damage to the planet).


This year’s 300+ mainly international contingent of festivals, sales agents, distributors, financiers and funders attending Krakow’s DOCS TO GO! and DOCS TO START sessions represents a 200% hike on the usual number of decision-makers. What’s more, they come from all corners of the globe, from Australia to South America, Canada to Korea, from Japan to Antarctica (in the form of the Antarctis Short, Documentary and Animation Film Festival).


“This year we don’t have any borders and we don’t have any difficulties because everybody from around the world can now meet in Krakow,” Wilk underlines. “For these few hours they can now join us.”


“I promised myself only to talk about the positive aspects of this online edition and not to complain about these pandemic and lockdown difficulties,” she adds. “So, yes, for now, let’s say that this could be the most successful edition in terms of attendance.” She further notes that KFF 2021 will probably be hybrid, ie live pitches but with a virtual dimension.


DOCS TO GO! (June 3) is a presentation of Polish documentary films at editing or post-production stage, while the DOCS TO START (June 4) projects are in development. This year there will be 21 new works presented to the international doc community.


The roll call of Polish projects that have launched their very successful careers at Krakow is vast, and includes the likes of Over the Limit by Marta Prus (which premiered in IDFA Competition in 2017 before selection for Docpoint Helsinki, Hot Docs, Trieste FF, FIPA Biarritz, Göteborg FF, ZagrebDOX etc), The Prince and the Dybbuk by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski (Classics Award for the best documentary at Venice IFF 2017) and Anna Zamecka’s The Communion which won the EFA Award in 2017.


Wilk argues that the event underlines Poland’s status as one of Europe’s epicentres for documentary activity, which makes approximately 150 long and short documentaries per year. “Yes, we are very happy that we are part of the international documentary industry circle. Representatives and decision makers from the other major pitching forums and co-production markets are coming here to search for projects, and these projects are subsequently invited to these events across the world. Top selectors are finding very good projects in Krakow.”


Other cornerstones of KFF Industry include the CEDOC (Central European Documentary) Market which is organised for international producers looking for production partners, and comprises individual meetings and round tables with international decision makers from the film industry, as well as foreign producers who are open to co-operation with Poland and other countries. The market will be held online between 3 and 5 June 2020.


The “Focus on Denmark” programme includes screenings of latest Danish documentary, short and animated films. A key component is the June 2 Panel Discussion whose aim is to present the contemporary model of Danish Documentary cinema with a focus on co-production possibilities with Denmark.


The DOCS TO BUY event offers sneak previews of completed Polish documentary films. After the screenings, there will be meetings between producers and distributors, buyers and representatives of VOD platforms, invited specially for this occasion. 


The KFF Industry Meetings will entail individual meetings with international film festival programmers, and are designed for filmmakers, producers and distributors. Confirmed attendees include programmers from Berlinale, Sundance FF, Venice FF, Hot Docs, Visions du Réel and IDFA.


The KFF Market digital video library includes approximately 250 documentary, short and animated films, including the festival’s competition films and sections prepared by the festival’s partners: Institute of Documentary Film, DOK Leipzig, Swiss Films, Visions du Réel, Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival, Festival dei Popoli and the Finnish Film Foundation.