SFN INTERVIEW / ZOOM-ZBLIZENIA Festival Director, Sylwia Motyl-Cinkowska

 Marjan Riahi (SFN) - Graduated from the Cultural Studies at the University of Wroclaw – majored in Theatre Studies, Sylwia Motyl-Cinkowska has organized many cultural events and worked as a promotion specialist. Since 2005 she's been the director of Osiedlowy Dom Kultury (The Local Community Center) in Jelenia Gora and the director of ZOOM-ZBLIZENIA International Film Festival.
In this E-mail interview, she explains about festival's aims, condition, and her wishes about its future.

Which goals the Zoom Festival was established with? How much have you got closer to your goals during the years of holding the festival?

ZOOM-ZBLIZENIA (Zoom-close-up) Film Festival was started 12 years ago as an international event, mainly involving the boarder countries, directed towards the Poles and their closest neighbors- the Czech and the German people. The aim of the event is presentation of the cultures, film language, exchange of ideas also promotion and presentation of the independent cinematography and meeting of film makers. With each edition the festival gains momentum, and for few years now it has had international character.

What is the position of this festival among the people and cinema lovers of Jelena Gora?

The Festival is an important and serious event being one of the most significant and largest of this type in Poland. As a result Jelenia Gora has been clearly marked on the off film map of Poland. The inhabitants with interest observe the event and take part in the Festival happenings.

What kinds of films are going to be in this year's festival? What subjects are common in them? What's the main feature in these films?

This year we have had 250 films submitted .Because the aim of the Festival is the confrontation of an authors' achievements and the presentation of variety of independent film industry phenomenon, plethora of different forms such as feature films, documentaries and filmed experiments is present. There are no subject restrictions, thus the vast diversity of film genres and touched issues.

Zoom is specified to independent cinema. How much serious is independent cinema in Poland? Can the independent filmmakers work in Poland easily?

Polish independent cinema for few years has been undergoing an awakening. Each year many pictures are made. Amateur road is the often the only one to take in order to have a chance to produce the film. However it doesn't change the fact that these are productions with hardly any budget, produced for very little money, their makers for long will not be able to afford real promotion of their films and there is no distribution set in place for independent films. These are the challenges that independent film makers have to face in Poland.

What changes are made in the situation of Polish cinema and filmmakers after the communism era?

Until 1989 films were only government funded. They were made in state-owned film companies. Finished films were also state-owned, they did not have particular owner. Distribution was taken on by a national company, and films were screened in state-owned cinemas, the only cinemas there were in those times.
Nowadays, there are about 100 film companies on the market. We also have many distribution companies, however raising the funds to produce a film is still a significant problem in Poland.

Does the Polish government support making the documentaries and short films? Is there any chance for the documentaries and short films to be released?

Currently, established in 2005, Polish Film Institute is the administrator of the public funds for the cinema industry. It supports financially the organization of off festivals, the production of feature films, documentaries, animated cartoons as well as high and low budget films. The Institute offer a solution however  only for production companies which are difficult to access by independent film makers and this way they are practically excluded from the accessing these funds.

You are going to hold an international workshop for the young filmmakers at the same time with the festival. Please explain about this workshop, its programs, and its participants.

Film workshops that are part of the Festival are geared towards the young people age 17-23.  Polish and Czech youth that will participate this year in the workshops for 5 days will have the opportunity to learn what the different stages of film making are: starting with the screenplay, through pictures to editing. The participants will work in international groups of 8 each, under the supervision of international staff of leaders. Two groups will make their own films, which will be presented at the Gala the last day of the festival. The third group will learn the ins and outs of the TV crew work, and will independently work on news form the festival events.

What is the position of documentaries and short films in Zoom Festival? Are they as important as the features for you?

Mainly short films enter the competition.  70 of them were qualified for the Festival and there are only few full-length feature films among them. Mainly, it's feature films, less documentaries are submitted and respectively less of those are represented in the competition, despite that fact we find these as important. One of the awards is for the best documentary.

Do you believe that short film can have an independent identity or it is a practice for making features?

It often is the case that the short films are for their makers only a practice before creating full-length films with high budgets. It also happens that these are their only opportunity to appear in the film industry. I believe however that short films are also means, chosen by the film director, to express their private opinion that will not be distorted by pressure from the producers, distributors, nor the pressure to pleasing others’ matter of taste.

A TV channel is among the sponsors of Zoom festival. Is the festival covered by local TV channel? If yes, how much will it help to introduce the festival?

Local TV for years has been the patron of the event, has support us mainly in the organization, especially of the film workshops, by renting the equipment or the studio for very low prices, presenting festival news made by the youth as a part of the "Festival TV".
Very valuable is also their help with promoting the festival, coverage from this event or the presentation of awarded works.

What is your wish as the festival director?

As the festival director I would wish myself movie hall filled with audience, satisfied guests that happily come back each year, good films in the competition and last but not least, funds that would allow us to provide festival program full of additional attractions,  such as: concerts, exhibitions, meetings with recognized film makers and screening of their films.

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