GDAŃSK DOCFILM FESTIVAL about Prison Films and the Documentary Golden Age

The documentary film is experiencing its golden era. Nowadays, you can go nearly anywhere with a camera.‘ Katarzyna Warzecha, Festival Coordinator and Programmer of the 12th Gdańsk DocFilm Festival believes 2014 is the Golden Age for documentaries. We talked with Warzecha about a variety of topics such as their brand-new category about prison films, the features of a top doc and why you shouldn’t miss out on submitting your documentary to Gdańsk DocFilm Festival.

Deadline • 28 February 2014


Katarzyna Warzecha Gdanks DocFest

Why prisoners?

10 years ago we weren‘t even a festival. Then it was more like a small selection of documentary screenings documenting the human condition in the modern world. Today, the landscape is different and the documentary film is experiencing its golden era. Nowadays, you can go nearly anywhere with a camera.

Recently we realized that we are getting a lot of films discussing freedom – that’s why we decided this year to launch a special section called ‘penitentiary films’! We want to look at a wide range of prisoners’ problems, in various contexts and cultural environments. Some of those titles will be in the main competition as well.

What makes a good documentary?

A good documentary film needs a great story with a compact style. The first minutes of a film are the key moments for us – it has to be something that will glue us to our seat and make us stay with a character to the end.

Also I really believe in the phrase – ‘the shorter, the better’! It really is a big issue – in Poland films are mainly produced independently, so they don’t have any length restrictions. Many of our submitted films deal with really interesting topics, but because of this they often become too long and we get bored watching them. That’s why sometimes I wish we could have our own festival editor, who would work with the filmmaker to create a shorter version.

Why Gdańsk?

To the filmmakers I have one message: if having your film screened to thousands by the picturesque Polish seaside sounds appealing, submit to Gdańsk! We really believe that independent filmmakers are making films that deserve to be seen by bigger audiences and ours is comprised of people who often take days off work to stay all day long in the cinema and then discuss the films with the directors.

Whilst filmmakers are there they can explore Gdańsk’s historical and alternative life – after all, it is the place where the solidarity movement was started. Sometimes visa problems or scheduling issues makes it impossible for the filmmaker to come to Gdańsk, but for those that miss out we offer online Q&As!

Why FilmFestivalLife?

FilmFestivalLife makes life much easier – not only for filmmakers; it makes programmers, graphic designers and translators happy. It is ecological as well. Before FFL we had to copy DVDs in several copies for different departments. Film packages were often broken or not delivered. I am really happy that FFL’s fee is so low and is comparable with the regular mail stamp!


Katarzyna Warzecha, Festival Coordinator & Programmer, Gdańsk DocFilm Festival
June 04 – 08, 2014
Gdańsk, Poland

Submit to Gdańsk DocFilm Festival on FilmFestivalLife:

Submit to GDANKS DOCFEST on FilmFestivalLife
Late Deadline: 28 February 2014

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Marcin Luczaj

Marcin Luczaj is FFL's Head of Business Development. Beside FFL, he is also working as festival programmer. You will find him in the jury at some European festivals too. You can reach him at marcin(at)

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