13 films will compete for the Main Bank Millennium Award – the Grand Prix of the 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival

13 films will compete for the Main Bank Millennium Award – the Grand Prix of the 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival. The festival will be held in six cities, including Katowice where it will take place for the first time, thanks to the cooperation with Silesia Film!

A press conference which presented selected hits of the coming 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, the largest documentary festival in Poland, was held in the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute. This year, the Festival will be held in six Polish cities: Warsaw (Kinoteka, Luna and Iluzjon), Wrocław (Dolnośląskie Centrum Filmowe), Gdynia (Gdyńskie Centrum Filmowe), Lublin (Centrum Spotkania Kultur), Bydgoszcz (Kino Orzeł) and, thanks to the cooperation with Silesia Film, in Katowice, for the first time! This city's festival screenings will take place in the Kosmos, Światowid and Rialto cinemas.

The 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival will be held from 10th to 19th May in Warsaw, Wrocław and Lublin, from 15th to 24th May in Gdynia and from 12th to 19th May in Katowice. A local edition of the festival will be held in Bydgoszcz too, from 11th to 18th May.

13 films will contend in the Main Competition for the Bank Millennium Award – the Grand Prix

13 films will compete for the Bank Millennium Award. The jury composed of: Leila Hosseini, Michał Marczak and Hanna Polak will choose the winner among the newest and most outstanding documentary masterpieces. The film “They Shall Not Grow Old" by Peter Jackson, the winner of multiple Oscars for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is in the main competition. In his first documentary, the director explores the dark history of World War I. He takes us back in time thanks to archive film footage and its restoration which was made possible by modern technologies.

Bank Millennium has been involved with the Festival, sponsoring the Bank Millennium Main Award since 2006. In 2016 we became the naming rights sponsor of the event.

Iwona Jarzębska, Director of Public Relations Department of Bank Millennium: Culture is important for us. This is why we have been supporting and promoting it in all its variations for 30 years now. We believe it is a source of inspiration and one of the best investments, also for the bank. In culture, as in business, we seek innovative and unconventional projects, as Millennium Docs Against Gravity has been from the very beginning. It shows the world and people 360°, i.e. the way Bank Millennium has been carrying out its mission of sponsor of culture for thirty years already.

The Main Competition in which films will contend for Grand Prix – the Bank Millennium Award and the entire festival programme are rich in films which explore the nature of our relations with the loved ones. “The Magic Life of V” by Tonislav Hristov (the director of "The Good Postman" which won our festival's award) is an intimate portrait of a young woman who tries to build self-confidence and face her difficult relation with her father, by impersonating a fantasy figure. Friendship of a group of teenagers and their apprehension about the future are the themes of the documentary "Transnistra" by Anna Eborn. The characters live in Transnistra, an area which declared independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, however it remains an unrecognised state.

Paweł Ziemilski's "In Touch” which was awarded at the prestigious IDFA festival in Amsterdam is a story about a village called Stare Juchy. Almost a third of its inhabitants have emigrated to Iceland. It is a touching, intimate and universal story of family, love and technology, which makes it possible to stay in touch with the ones who are the closest to your heart in the changing world. Family relations are also the theme of "Compulsory Figures” by Ewa Kochańska. In this film, we meet a Ukrainian married couple with three children who have decided to settle in Poland. Winning an ice-skating competition is a big chance for their daughter, Julia. But will she be up to the challenge?

We will also see Jolanta Dylewska's "Marek Edelman... and There Was Love in the Ghetto". in the festival's main competition. "Why nobody asks me if there was love in the ghetto? Why is no one interested in that?" – said Marek Edelman, the last leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, a short time before he died in 2009. He answers the question in the long-awaited film, which became famous even before its premiere, "Marek Edelman... and There Was Love in the Ghetto". Agnieszka Holland co-created its script and Andrzej Wajda co-directed the film's dramatized scenes.

"Cold Case Hammarskjöld" is the newest film by Mads Brügger which was awarded the Directing Award at the Sundance festival in 2019. Mads Brügger is known for his distinctive filmmaking method – the so called "performative journalism". Will the film world's famous provocateur manage to reveal the truth of Dag Hammarskjöld mysterious death in 1961?

Nebojša Slijepčević explores the repercussions of the Bosnia and Herzegovina war, which was the largest European tragedy since World War II, in her film "Srbenka” – a story, which is set behind the scenes during the work on a theatre play about a 12-year-old Serbian girl murdered in Croatia in 1991. Oliver Frljić is the author of the play which stirs up the hornets' nest of the Serbian-Croatian conflict. In Poland, he is known mainly for the renowned play "The Curse" which was presented in Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny.

The latest film by Roberto Minervini, an Italian director who lives in Texas, “What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?" shows everyday life of black Americans who, after a series of race murders in 2017, went out into the streets of New Orleans to protest against racism and begin fighting for justice and dignity. The audience of the 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival will have a chance to participate in masterclasses and get to know the arcana of the work by one of today's most interesting directors who show the multicultural American reality.

"Honeyland" by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, which was showered with awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is also in the Main Competition. It is a story of a 55-year old Hatidze, set in Macedonia. The character leads a life according to the ancient rhythm of coexistence with the nature.

In the festival's programme there are many films on contemporary European history which are already famous all over the world. Witalij Manski, who is well known to the audience for his film "Under the Sun", the winner of the 13th edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, presents the story of the Russian leader rising to power in "Putin’s Witnesses". Cooperating with Vladimir Putin's campaign allowed Manski to come unusually close to Putin and Boris Yeltsin with his camera and to capture the political turning point in Russia.

Just as every year, in our festival's programme there are captivating stories from the art world too. "The Proposal” by Jill Magid is a combination of a thriller and a love story on exploring the legacy of Mexico's most famous architect, Luisie Barragán. It asks the question on who should have access to his work. "Talking About Trees" by Suhaib Gasmelbari, the winner of this year's Berlinale's Best Documentary Award, in which four elderly members of a Sudanese film club decide to renovate a former cinema near Khartoum also has a chance to win the Grand Prix – the Bank Millennium Award. What they have in common is their love for film and an eagerness to revive Sudanese film heritage.

The Wrocław, Gdynia, Katowice and Bydgoszcz editions have their own main competitions too. The awards are: The Lower Silesia Grand Prix awarded during the Wrocław edition, the Mayor of Gdynia Award, the xxx Award in Katowice as well as the Bydgoszcz ART.DOC AWARD.

Strong representation of Polish titles

In "The Symphony of the Ursus Factory", one of the films presented in the new National Geographic competition for the best cinematography, Jaśmina Wójcik, the director, commemorates the fates of the Warsaw factory's employees. The collapse of communism was the beginning of its end. The former employees of Ursus reconstruct a day of the plant's work and co-create a visually and acoustically captivating story. The extraordinary biographies of the characters and their connections to the city are the theme of the film "Diagnosis" by Ewa Podgórska, whose world premiere took place at the IDFA festival. We have a close look at the characters – the camera accompanies them in a room which looks like a psychotherapist's office. This way, we get to know their undisclosed desires, memories of love and relations with people who are important to them.

The relationship between perhaps the most famous Polish artistic couple is examined by Borys Lankosz ("Reverse") in a visually astonishing essay which blends film and theatre. The film "Kobro / Strzemiński. A Fantastic Tale" stars Agata Buzek and Łukasz Simlat.

Journalism – today’s hope

Engaged political journalism is the theme of "The Panama Papers", in which Alex Winter tells the story of probably the largest scandal involving the famous of today's world hiding incomes in tax havens. In "Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World”), Hans Pool presents the work of the first citizen investigative organisation which reveals the truth about today's mystery cases – from the MH17 catastrophe to the civil war in Syria or the mysterious poisoning of a Russian spy in Great Britain.

"Shooting the Mafia" by Kim Longinotto is a story of the famous photographer, reporter and artist from Palermo - Letizia Battaglia who portrayed Sicilian Mafia for many years and contributed to the Italian society's objection to the outlaws.

Latest films by Werner Herzog and Agnès Varda

The audiences in Warsaw, Gdynia, Wrocław, Bydgoszcz, Lublin and, for the first time, Katowice, will see the latest film by the Oscar nominee, legendary director Werner Herzog "Meeting Gorbachev". This is a summit meeting of the cinema's master and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Nobel Prize winning Soviet leader, as well as a tale on the events which shaped today's geopolitical landscape.

Agnès Varda, a film virtuoso, the winner of an honorary Oscar, points the camera at herself in "Varda by Agnès". However, this is not a typical film self-portrait. It is more of a set of Varda's comments on her life and work as a director, photographer and installation artist.

Debates, concerts and meetings with special guests

Just as every year, as a part of the Documentary Academy, additional events which are closely linked to the film programme will take place. They are organised together with the largest NGOs, institutions and the media partners. The Documentary Academy is also about a programme for different groups of spectators, including children and seniors.

Eminent guests will come to meet the audience. Among them, there will be: Rob Miller, Henry Singer (co-directors and co-producers of the film "The Trial of Ratko Mladic”), Alan Tieger, who acted as the prosecutor during the trial, Witalij Manski ("Putin's Witnesses", "Under the Sun"), Roberto Minervini ("What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire", "The Other Side"), Mads Brügger ("Cold Case Hammarskjöld", "The Ambassador"), André Singer (co-director of "Meeting Gorbachev"), Janus Metz, the director of the film "Heartbound" and the famous "Armadillo".

The 16th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival will be held from 10th to 19th May in Warsaw, Wrocław and Lublin, from 15th to 24th May in Gdynia and from 12th to 19th May in Katowice. A local edition of the festival will be held in Bydgoszcz too, from 11th to 18th May.