Home > Animation, Books, Polish Animation > Fresh Blood of Polish Animation (written by Mariusz Frukacz)

Fresh Blood of Polish Animation (written by Mariusz Frukacz)

To all those who would like to have a read something about the shape of contemporary Polish animation but do not really read in Polish, I present a piece of text written in English. Its author is Mariusz Frukacz, Polish film critic and promoter of animated film in Poland and abroad. The article has recently been published in Asifa Magazine (vol. 22 no. 2, Winter Issue 2009) and is one of the most interesting insight in the context of Polish new animation I have come across to date.


Fresh blood of Polish animation.

It has been quite a while now since Polish animated film was in as good shape as it is today. The year of 2008 seems to have been very generous. Polish animation finally got proper attention and bigger money. A lot of time was spent on revising its 60 year history, honoured authors, and distinguished film titles. However, I decided to have a closer look at what is happening here and now; I want to answer a question about the nature of the present moment in Polish animation. Above all I concentrated on those who are part of today’s Polish animated film industry, namely on animators of our young generation.

Since 1989 – a landmark in Polish history – throughout the next 15 years, there have not been many debuts in Polish animation. No one doubts, I guess, the reasons for the situation.  Production crisis – not only in animation but in the whole cinematography industry – limited possibilities for professional development, hence young authors graduating from four major Polish schools teaching animation were ignored by the animation market. Out of necessity they had to start looking for alternative occupations and engaged with television, advertisement and graphics… Undoubtedly the 1990s was the lost time for Polish animation; it was the time of a lost generation of young animators who did not have a chance to professionally develop their creative skills. The beginning of the 21st century and changes implemented in the production funding system, including the foundation of Polish Film Institute, gave Polish animators new perspectives. The dynamics of the processes is best visible through a prism of the competition at Polish National Festival of Author’s Animated Films OFAFA held in Cracow, which has reflected the state of Polish animation for many years. In 2002 the professionals’ competition presented only 2 out of 18 films in the competition made by animators born in the 70s and the 80s. Only one debut was shown to the festival audience – Cathedral by Tomek Baginski, nominated for the Academy Award half a year later. Five years passed by, eight debuts were competed at the festival and as many as 14 competition films were produced by authors born in the 70s and the 80s. In 2008 young animators’ productions amounted to 85 per cent of all professional animated films in the competition. If we added to it students’ works and amateurs’ films, we would come to a conclusion that some fresh blood has finally rushed into Polish animation veins.

The real explosion of debuts in the past 2-3 years would not have been possible unless young creators had changed their attitude to their work. Many of them do not wait for offers from existing production houses anymore but start producing films themselves in their own small companies (e.g. Anna Pankiewicz) or by their activity in associations (e.g. Wiola Sowa, Robert Sowa, Edyta Turczanik). Others, after having gathered the right budgets take advantage of international collaborations (e.g. Anna Blaszczyk, Kamil Polak, Wojtek Wawszczyk) or even decide to begin working abroad (e.g. Izabela Plucinska). Others, like Wojciech Bakowski, Janek Koza or Norman Leto, make films in their home studios, funding the productions from their private sources. Recent years have also shown that a significant part of animation production has come from the main Polish academic centres offering animation courses: Academies of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poznan and Warsaw as well as Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz. Improving technical infrastructure, easier access to professional equipment and collaboration with film studios have allowed student films to compete easily with professional productions at various festivals. It is worth mentioning that production companies, specialising mainly in postproduction and advertisement, fund excellent animated films as well, e.g. films from Baginski or Jonkajtys produced in Platige Image studio.

Meetings and discussions on Polish young animation always raise the same question: is it possible to define a common denominator for 20-30 year old animation artists? Does this generation have any common aims, distinctive topics or style determinants? (…)

To read more follow the link to the web site of Mariusz Frukacz: Fresh Blood of Polish Animation


[Written by Mariusz Frukacz. Translated by Magdalena Wolyniec]

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