Pilot 9/11 VR and Non Duality at Ji.hlava festival

The 27th International Documentary Film Festival Ji.hlava in Prague will present the Pilot 9/11 VR experience by Norman Leto, and Non Duality, a film essay by Tomasz Wegorzewski. 

Pilot 9/11, for which this will be the international premiere, was included in the competition section dedicated to virtual reality.
Tuesday, October 24, 4:00 pm
Wednesday, October 25, 10:00 am
Thursday, October 26, 10:00 am
Friday, October 27, 10:00 am
Saturday, October 28, 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 29, 10:00 am 

Non Duality, created at the Film Essay Studio, will be shown in the First Lights section on October 25 at 09:30.
Information and tickets: https://www.ji-hlava.com/

Solaris Mon Amour at international festivals!

After screenings at major festivals in Poland, the foundfootage documentary, Solaris Mon Amour, directed by Kuba Mikurda and produced at the Essay Film Studio,  will see its international premiere! At the prestigious 21st edition of the Doc Lisboa festival, dedicated to documentaries and shown in Lisbon, it will be presented during just a single screening on October 26. 
For information and tickets, go to: https://doclisboa.org/2023/en/filmes/solaris-mon-amour/ 
After Portugal, Solaris Mon Amour goes to the Imagine Fantastic Film Festival in Amsterdam. Imagine is the largest fantasy film festival in the Netherlands, showcasing the best fantasy, horror and science fiction films. Two screenings of the essay will be held at the Lab111 cinema on October 26 and October 31. 
For information and tickets, go to: https://www.imaginefilmfestival.nl/en/film/solaris-mon-amour-2/ 
Solaris Mon Amour 
2023, 47 min. 
Awards and selections: 
2023 – Millennium Docs Against Gravity, nominations in the following categories – Best Polish Film Award, Best Production Award from post-production studio Smakjam, Studio Cinema Association Award. 
Director: Kuba Mikurda 
Editing: Laura Pawela 
Music: DJ Lenar 
Sound: Marcin Lenarczyk 
Produced by: Dagna Kido?, Krzysztof Franek, Krzysztof Pijarski 

Film essays by vnLab at the Camera Action Festival

The 14th edition of the Kamera Akcja Festival, an event dedicated to film criticism, will feature new productions created at the Film Essay Studio. The Action Education series accompanying the festival will include screenings, meetings and the premiere of the vnLab digital publication.


  • October 13, 5:00 pm, Essay on Method meeting. Premiere of the digital publication on the gestures of the film essay 

Stanislaw Liguzinski and Michal Matuszewicz, directors of the Film Essay Studio, will present the digital publication Essay on the Method, edited by Stanislaw Liguzinski and Ariel Avissar. This anthology of ten texts is the result of a joint journey that filmmakers, artists, scholars and members of the vnLab Film Essay Workshop working group took between March 2021 and December 2022. 

Venue: Museum of Cinematography, free admission.
More information: https://kameraakcja.com.pl/wydarzenie/akcja-edukacja-esej-o-metodzie-premiera-publikacji-cyfrowej-o-gestach-eseju-filmowego/


  • October 14, 1:00 pm, screening of the essay Solaris Mon Amour, directed by Kuba Mikurda, 2023. 

After the screening, there is a meeting with the filmmakers – Kuba Mikurda, Laura Pawela, Marcin Lenarczyk, hosted by Kaja Klimek. 

Venue: Cinema of the Film School, free entrance.
More information: https://kameraakcja.com.pl/pokaz/solaris-mon-amour/


  • October 15, 5:45 pm, screening of essays produced at the Film Essay Workshop. 

The program includes: 

A short conversation between brother and sister, by Temra Pavlovi?, Stefan Pavlovi?, Poland, Netherlands 2023, 27’21”
Room 404, dir. by Elysa Wendi, Lee Wai Shing, Poland, Hong Kong 2023, 29’40”
Non Duality, dir. by Tomasz W?gorzewski, Poland 2023, 25”
Wanda, dir. by Anna Baumgart, Poland 2023, 20’53”
Subtotals, dir. by Mohammadreza Farzad, Poland, Germany, Iran 2022, 16′ 

Venue: Kinematograf Cinema, Museum of Cinematography, admission free.
More information: https://kameraakcja.com.pl/pokaz/akcja-edukacja-eseje-z-pracowni-vnlab/

Room 404

The Implementation of the new security law in 2020 marked a major historical shift for the people of Hong Kong. This 2-year process brought on the reality which was not expected to have materialized until 2046. This harsh, unexpected acceleration fueled feelings of anxiety and distress. The fear of prosecution mixed with the impulse for self-censorship, the desire to leave wrestled with a sense of loss. Room 404 is an essayistic response to the documentary Room 525 shot by the same artists during the art residency in Hong Kong back in 2019 while the social unrest was growing. The film marks the transition from documentary to essay, from the real space of room 525, to the reality marked by the most common error of the digital age 404: File Not Found. The desire to express the objective truth of the situation which drove the makers experiencing the calamity as it unravelled, gives way to doubt that permeates the situation, which emerges in the post-calamity state.

Elysa Wendi – a Singaporean artist and filmmaker based in Hong Kong. After dancing for ten years professionally, she began experimenting with choreographic ideas with the medium of film, performances and curatorial projects. She is a co-founder of Cinemovement, a platform facilitating the creation of dance films in laboratory settings through cultural exchanges. Interested in the abstraction of memory from place, time and biographical traces, Wendi explores these themes in her live and film works. Her short film 1958 Delivery has been lauded for its artful juxtaposition of photography, history and performative rituals, and won the best experimental film award at the 2018 South Taiwan Film Festival. She recently received best documentary award from Hong Kong ArtHouse Film festival for Forgive and Not to Forgive.

Lee Wai Shing – A Hong Kong independent filmmaker. His involvement with Chinese Independent Documentary Lab from 2016-2018 has exposed him to many independent documentary possibilities. His latest documentary film Family Family Day which was made with the support of HKU Documentary Seed Grants, has won the Gold Award (Open Category) in the 24th ifva Awards in Hong Kong. He is currently working as an editor for documentary film projects with other directors as well as working on his experimental film works.

A short conversation between a brother and a sister

Two siblings and filmmakers look through old tapes they filmed during their shared four weeks of vacation with their father each year. What do they see? Exotic landscapes and a new language. What do they not see? Their father’s emigration, the divorce, habitual family dynamics, arguments. From the present, the filmmakers look back and negotiate storytelling with memory.? ‘Music’ and ‘geology’ become two anchors through which memory and storytelling are attempted, and in turn, cinematically constructed. Through gestural filmmaking, music becomes a type of short term affective memory, while geology allows us to read the long-term, long-lasting fossils of our memory through encoding, inscription and mark-making. A short conversation between a brother and sister, wondering who they were and who they are.

Temra Pavlovi? (1990) – is an artist whose practice is rooted in experimental filmmaking. Temra earned her BFA in Film/Video from CalArts and MA in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Her work has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions at galleries such as Lodos, Mexico City; Kantine, Brussels; Kevin Space, Vienna; 1857, Oslo; Seventeen Gallery, London, among others. Honors include the Princess Grace Award for undergraduate filmmaking in New York; Young Talent stipend from the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam and Transmediale Non-Fiction program from the Stimuleringsfonds, Rotterdam. Since 2019, she is assistant-director of KAMEN Artist Residency in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Stefan Pavlovi? (1989) – received his BA in film directing at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and his MA at the Netherlands Film Academy in Artistic Research in and through Cinema. His first short film When the dragon came (2018) had its international premiere at the Krakow Film Festival and would go on to win the Best Film Award at the Szczecin International Film Festival. His debut feature film, Looking for Horses (2021), premiered at Visions du Réel, here it won the Best Film Award in the Burning Lights Competition. The film would go on to win many awards at prestigious international festivals including IDFA, Sarajevo FF, FID Marseille, RIDM, Ann Arbor, Kasseler Dokfest, among others. Stefan was awarded the Prins Bernhard Documentary Prize and became a Berlinale Talent in 2022.


The night before the dramatic events, the girls sat around the bonfire discussing the legend of “Wanda who did not want a German”. They boarded two boats, each overloaded. Allegedly, local fishermen had been warning them. They wanted to see the sea very much, though. Witness accounts remain fragmented and inconsistent. The order of events can only be recreated roughly. Using the historical narrative, we reshape its plot. We follow 5 girls from the moment of departure from their homes until the moment of tragedy. The essay pictures the days preceding the trip: girls elect their own Wanda (the scout team is named after the legendary virgin). The chosen one is to become the leader for that day – she holds the power. Yet, at night, we learn the dark side of it: taking up the role of Wanda means being slandered and drowned. We explore the girls’ relation with two worlds: internal (relations among themselves) and the outside world. We look at the sphere of submission: scout uniforms vs. colorful dresses, slips and loose hair – slipping out of the masculine world order: militarisation, discipline, hierarchy, and war. Negligence on the side of adults or unconscious suicidal desires? The story unfolds on the edge between dreams and reality, historical facts and legends about Wanda as a figure of overcoming the triad: death-life-death. The girls’ world is tormented by mystery. Each of them is, in their own way, a “Wanda” who was forced to take her own life or was made, by some other forces, to withdraw from life – from libidinal reality – elan vital, one’s own sexuality. It is Wanda who is the mirror of their impression of femininity. The action of the movie has two timelines: 1948 and today. The girls’ age and looks do not change. The change of time, but not of the space, serves to show how important and unceasingly relevant for women are the issues at stake.

Anna Baumgart – She is one of the most acclaimed Polish contemporary multimedia artist involved in directing, sculpture, installation, performance, video, photography and artistic tattooing. Her work is categorised as critical art and feminist art. She explores themes related to cultural patterns of behaviour, social stereotypes and the problems of contemporary women. She moves fluidly between essay, documentary, reportage and music video conventions. Baumgart’s works can be found in collections, musea, and art galleries all around the world.

Non duality

“Non duality” referring to the educational film genre, in rhythmic and associative montages of meaning, tackles the theme of the belief in the separateness of the Self that lies at the foundation of Western culture and the divisive naturalizing function of language itself. The film juxtaposes archival footage from the Educational Film Studio in ?ód? and a documentary and personal record of a conversation with Halina Pytlasinska, a British psychologist and therapist who works with the collective unconscious using the social dreaming matrix method.

Tomasz W?gorzewski – theatre director and writer. A graduate of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Directing at the School of Theatre in Krakow. Grantee of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Scholarship in 2020 and 2016. Focused on issues related to the themes of memory and nostalgia, as well as the history of the Polish esoteric movement in the interwar period. In his current theatre work, he develops his interests in the spirituality of contemporary society and the history of psychology and psychoanalysis.

Solaris Mon Amour – An extraordinary found footage documentary inspired by Stanis?aw Lem’s „Solaris”

A trance-like, personal story about loss, mourning & memory. The film consists of excerpts from 70 films produced by the Educational Film Studio in Lodz in the 1960s and the first radio adaptations of “Solaris.” Lem begins writing „Solaris” the same year that Resnais’ „Hiroshima Mon Amour” is released” – says Kuba Mikurda – Like Resnais’ film, I find „Solaris” a fascinating study of post-traumatic memory – repressed memories that pave their way into consciousness and demand to be expressed.

Kuba Mikurda – film director & film scholar. He has worked as a film critic, journalist and publisher. In 2018, he made his film debut, a feature-length documentary „Love Express. The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk” and in 2021 „Escape to the Silver Globe” which won three awards at the Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival, an award from the Polish Filmmakers Association at the Man in Danger festival, and was nominated for the Polish Film Award Eagles 2022 in the categories of best documentary and best editing. He teaches at the Film School in ?ód? & hosts the podcast „Director’s Cut”.

Subtotals by Mohammadreza Farzad – a meditation on the uncertainties of life

Do you keep a record of your gray hair?
The number of crushes you had on women?
The number of houses, you have owned or rented?
The number of kisses, you have exchanged?
The number of times, you’ve flown in your dreams?
Maybe you have counted, maybe not.
Anyway, does counting make a difference
in a life lived beyond numbers?

Subtotals (Majmouan) is a film about the aftermath that can never be applied to one’s life as a product. Inspired by a short story of the same title by Gregory Burnham and Autoportrait by Edouard Leve, composed fully of 8mm home movies of Iranian society, Subtotals is a meditation on the uncertainties of life that doesn’t hand out any bills.

Subtotals is the first project developed in the context of the Essay Film Studio of the vnLab in Lodz Film School. The world premiere of the essay took place at the IFF Berlinale 2022 as part of the prestigious Forum Expanded section, and the Polish premiere at the Millenium Docs Against Gravity festival. The film essay won the Golden Apricot award at the Yerevan International Film Festival.

Mohammadreza Farzad – was Born in 1978 in Iran, Teheran. He started his career as a poet and literary translator. Dozens of books have been published with his translations. His career as a documentary filmmaker started with Into Thin Air and Blames and Flames which premiered at Berlinale, Forum Expanded section. Farzad has been a PhD student at the Film Factory headed by the legendary Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr. His subsequent works premiered at dozens of national and international film festivals and gained numerous awards. Forget-Me-Not Egg (2013) was first shown at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Wedding: A Film (2015) premiered in the “Next Masters” section of the Leipzig Documentary film festival. He has been invited as a jury member to film festivals such as CPH: DOX, Jihlava, Pilsen, DokuBaku, Cinema Verite. He is currently working on his first feature film produced by Radovan Sibert of Pink Production. Majmaouan (Subtotals) is his third-time participation in Berlinale Forum Expanded.

Interactive Narratives and Essay Film Studio at 39. Kasseler Dokfest

During Kasseler DokFest, we will present the activities of our two Studios.

The Interactive Narratives, Digital Scientific Publications and UX Studio is dedicated to the study and development of new forms of narratives aris- ing from the use of digital interactive technologies in documentary film and related forms such as film essay. The Studio was founded on observation of transformations in the area of in 21st century doc- umentary which became a field of experimenta- tion with audiovisual language and creating new models of narration as well as a place where film meets with other media: photography, literature, animated film or computer games. In the result of diverse experimentation within the documen- tary, media and digital technology, interactive documentary forms evolved. These constantly question and shift traditional roles of the author and the viewer. According to the Studio composing viewer’s emotional engagement in the interactive form demands not only good storytelling but also creating the whole new world to explore. This re- quires working in a brand-new environment which include interface and user experience designers as well as coders and creative technologists. The Studio will present excerpts from the interactive narratives produced in the studio and a fragment of the i-doc SCHOOL, THE WORLD SCHOOL, THE WORLD by Iga ?apin?ska and Ewa Jarosz – the larg- est production of the Studio so far.

The aim of the Essay Film Studio is to radically expand the research workshop, to develop new methods and new forms of thinking – thinking with images, sound and editing. It is an attempt to reinvent the form of the film essay by drawing on contemporary forms of audiovisual communi- cation, the genres, languages and conventions of contemporary cinema and the Internet. As part of the Essay Film Studio, this year a first series of workshops was organized, led by the world’s foremost experts in the field of essay film, includ- ing Laura Mulvey, Mike Bal, Cathrine Grant, Kevin B. Lee, Chloe? Galibert-Lai?ne?, Assaf Gruber, Eyal Sivan and in which selected participants from all over the world could work on their projects. As a result, the Essay Film Studio now serves as the production home for several essay film projects, including the award-winning film “Subtotals” by Mohammadreza Farzad, Mike Bal’s “It’s About Time! Reflections of Urgency” and, yet to pre- miere, “Solaris mon amour” by Kuba Mikurda. The participants of the seminar were also asked to contribute an anthology about the method, in which the gestures of many essayists are ana- lyzed. During the session representatives of the Essay Film Studio will present excerpts of the film projects and take part in a panel discussion about making and producing essay film as an epistemic practice. The films produced by Essay Film Studio are subsequently presented at festivals.

November 19

39th Kasseler Dokfest

1:30 pm

For more information follow the link.