The Essay Film Studio of the Visual Narratives Laboratory vnLab of the Lodz Film School announces a competition for participation in the artistic and research programme in 2021-2022

The vnLabEssay Film Studio announces a competition for participation in the artistic and research programme of the Studio in 2021-2022.

We invite artists interested in creating essayistic film forms to participate!

In order to participate in the competition you must:

  1. Read the RULES of the competition
  2. Stage I: Fill in the APPLICATION FORM
  3. Stage II: Prepare and send to the documents required in the regulations
    curriculum vitae with information confirming the necessary experience for the realization of the project
    b. a portfolio of past creative work
    c. documentation of the project which the candidate plans to develop as a part of the programme

Rules of the competition for participation in the artistic and research programme of the vnLab Essay Film Studio

I. Organiser and purpose of the Competition

  1. The organiser of the competition for participation in the artistic and research programme of the vnLab Essay Film Studio for the years 2021-2022 (hereinafter referred to as the “Competition”) is The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz, the Visual Narratives Laboratory vnLab with its registered office in 61/63 Targowa Street in Lodz, 90-323 (hereinafter referred to as the “Organiser”).
  2. The aim of the Competition is to select essay film projects to participate in the artistic and research programme of the vnLab Essay FilmStudio. The selection is made by the Competition Jury appointed by the Heads of the Visual Narratives Laboratory vnLab.
  3. Between 4 and 6 projects will be selected. The projects must be made between August 2021 and September 2022.

II. Participation in the vnLab Essay FilmStudio Programme

  1. The activity of the vnLab Essay Film Studio is of artistic and research character and consists, among other things, in supporting the creation of selected essayistic film forms and successively examining the process of their creation and reception.
  2. The winners of the Competition are obliged to participate in the seminar of the vn LabEssay Film Studio. Additionally, a group of winners will meet periodically at workshops, where the artists will develop their ideas and support the development of other projects with their knowledge and skills. Both the seminar and the workshops will be conducted online.
  3. Copies of all competition applications and completed works will remain in the Studio’s archives as sample material for further research and presentation. Excerpts of the works produced may be used in publications and audiovisual works concerning the activities of the Studio.

  III. Rules of participation in the competition

  1. The Competition is open to filmmakers with documented film or other artistic or research achievements (in literature, photography, theatre, visual arts, gallery installations, architecture, etc.).
  2. The Organiser will be the Producer of the winning essays.
  3. Hence, the participants of the Competition submit their entries without naming a Producer or an Executive Producer. After the announcement of the Winners, the vnLab Essay Film Studio will propose Executive Producers to the winning projects. The Executive Producers will be chosen in consultation with the winners.
  4. Projects may be co-produced or benefit from additional funding. The participants of the Competition may attach to their application co-production proposals and/or plans to seek additional funding. However, all decisions concerning co-production and additional funding must be made in cooperation with the Producer and Executive Producer.
  5. If the project is co-produced, the Organiser remains the lead producer of the project regardless of the proportion of the financial contribution to the production.
  6. Entries for the Competition must be submitted in English.
  7. In order to take part in the Competition, it is necessary to submit to the Organiser an application containing, in total:
    • A completed and submitted application form available HERE  and including:
      • title
      • telephone number, e-mail address, postal address
      • declaration: “I agree to participate in the competition for participation in the 2021-2022 vnLab Essay Film Studio programme and accept its rules and regulations”,
      • the GDPR clause
    • a one-page (1800 characters) description of the project
    • an audiovisual treatment of the project (3-5 minute video presenting the topic and/or research questions, formal concept, sample of materials, etc.) Note – the materials used do not have to be the final materials, for the purposes of the treatment the authors may use any found materials
    • a justification (max. 2500 characters) for the choice of essay film form answering the questions: how the creator(s) defines the essay film practice and why he/she/they feel the essay film approach is the most appropriate given the theme and aims of the project
    • a planned composition of the production team. A situation in which a director makes a film all by himself or herself is acceptable; however, the director should then demonstrate experience in all declared functions. It is acceptable if not all of the positions in the team are filled at the application stage. In this case, after the announcement of the results, the Lab offers to help find the missing team members.
    • CVs of the director and team members.
    • a description of the creative achievements of the members of the production team to date (max. 1800 characters per person), confirming their experience. The description may include links to film works and other multimedia content.
    • an initial budget of the work estimated at between 45 000 PLN and 70 000 PLN (~10 000 – 16 000 EUR). If a participant plans to make the work in co-production or to obtain external funding, they may increase the budget by additional funds. Attention – the realisation of the project cannot be dependent on entering a co-production or acquiring external funding. The submitted project must be possible to be realised within the competition funds.
    • A schedule of the works (production must be completed by September 2022).
    • All the documents listed above, prepared in PDF format and [project title]-[“description” or “portfolio” or “justification”: etc.]-2021.pdf. Streaming links can be included in the body of the email or in a separate PDF (Vimeo is preferred, but we do accept other links as long as they are operational. The responsibility for the correctness of the link & password lies with the applicant). The documents should be emailed to, with the title of the project in the title of the email.
  8. The project should meet the following requirements:
  • The project must result in a separate, previously unpublished work within the meaning of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights or, if existing materials are used, in an original work where the selection, arrangement or juxtaposition must be creative in nature.
  • If the Project involves the adaptation of a work (e.g. literary or musical) or the use of archival materials, the applicant must demonstrate the possibility of acquiring the rights enabling the realisation of the Project or demonstrate their expiration or other legal basis for their use. Confirmation may take the form of a letter of intent from the owner(s) of the rights, declaring their willingness to grant the rights to the participant if the Project is put into production and the financial conditions of the owner(s) are met.
  • The deadline for submission of entries is 11 July 2021. Upon receipt of the complete application, the Organizer will confirm acceptance of the application to the participant by email send to the address given in the form.
  • In order for the application to be considered as sent successfully, it must be possible to read correctly the submitted files.
  • Each participant may submit only one entry to the Competition.
  • Submitting an incorrect application may result in exclusion from the Competition.
  • Submitting an application is voluntary and means in particular:
  • full acceptance of the provisions of these regulations,
  • consent to the processing of personal data of the members of the creative team for purposes related to the conduct, documentation and promotion of the Competition. The clause concerning the processing of personal data is part of the application form of these Regulations.
  • to grant the Organizer, free of charge, a non-exclusive right, unlimited as to time and territory, to use and dispose of the submitted documentation of the Projects in all fields of exploitation, which especially includes the production of copies of the documentation by any technique and on any medium, marketing, public performance, exhibition, display, reproduction, broadcasting and rebroadcasting, as well as making the work available to the public in such a way that everyone can access it in a place and at a time individually chosen by them, including making it available via the IT network (especially via Internet). The Organizer gets these rights upon receiving the documentation for the Projects. These rights can be used for documentation purposes, as well as for promotion and advertising of the Competition, in informing about the Competition and reporting on its progress.


IV. Competition Jury

  1. The members of the Competition Jury are appointed by the Heads of vnLab.
  2. Members of the Competition Jury or other persons carrying out activities connected with the conduct of the Competition, or who may influence the outcome of the Competition, are subject to exclusion if they have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest occurs when the persons listed in paragraph 1:
    • Declared participation in the Competition;
    • Are married, in a relationship of kinship or affinity in a straight line, or in a relationship of kinship or affinity in the collateral line to the second degree, or are related by adoption, custody or guardianship, or are in cohabitation with a Competition participant, their legal representative or members of the management or supervisory bodies of a Competition participant;
    • Have had an employment or commission relationship with a participant in the Competition, have received remuneration from a participant in the Competition for any other reason or have been a member of the management or supervisory bodies of a participant in the Competition within 3 years before the opening of the Competition;
    • Have such a legal or factual relationship with a participant that there is reasonable doubt as to their impartiality or independence on account of their direct or indirect financial, economic or personal interest in the specific outcome of that contest.
    • The decisions of the Competition Jury are taken by a simple majority of votes in the presence of a majority of its members.
    • The decision of the Competition Jury will take the form of a ranking list. In case one of the selected projects cannot be realized, the Organizers will propose another project from the list.

 V. Results of the Competition

  1. The Competition Jury will judge the projects on the basis of their artistic value and originality, as well as other requirements included in these regulations. The Competition Jury will in particular take into account the following criteria:
    • artistic value of the project
    • the artistic potential of the project as an essayistic film form
    • the originality of the project in the context of existing essay film forms
    • the filmmakers’ justification of why they intend to carry out the project in the form of an essay film
    • the artists’ achievements to date,
    • realistic budget (possibility to make the project with the assumed budget).
  2. The proceedings of the Competition Jury will be documented in the protocol of the Competition Jury meeting. The projects submitted to the Competition will be attached to the protocol.
  3. The results of the Competition will be announced on the Organizer’s website on 06.08.2021. The Organizer will notify the winners of the Competition about the results by email send to the address indicated in the application form
  4. The winner is a participant of the Competition, who, based on the decision of the Competition Jury, has been included in the artistic and research programme of the vnLabEssay Film Studio for 2021-2022 in the field of film essay production.
  5. The Organiser reserves the right to cancel the Competition, stating the reasons for the decision.

VI. Financing and accounting

  1. Each of the teams selected as part of the Competition will have a budget of between PLN 45,000 and PLN 70,000 (~10,000 – 16,000 EUR) at their disposal for the realisation of their project, as well as the artistic and scholarly support of the vnLab Essay Film Studio.
  2. The Organiser will transfer the first half of the amount to the Executive Producer by the end of 2021. The second half will by transferred after the extension of the grant in 2022.
  3. The winners of the Competition are obliged to cooperate with the Executive Producer proposed by the Organiser. The Executive Producer will be selected in agreement with the winner.
  4. The Executive Producer shall conclude an agreement with the Organiser specifying the details of cooperation and accounting.
  5. The Executive Producer takes over the organisation of the production of the project including the conclusion of appropriate copyright and service agreements with subcontractors and the payment of all costs, acting in close cooperation with the Organiser and in particular with the management of vnLab and the vnLab Essay Film Studio and their delegates
  6. The funds will be transferred to the Executive Producer’s account on the basis of a correctly issued invoice after the Organiser has accepted the materials resulting from each stage of production and postproduction indicated by the Executive Producer in the schedule forming an appendix to the agreement, and provided the settlement of the stage in accordance with the agreement signed with the Organiser, whereas the materials resulting from the last stage of the production phase must include the finished version of the work.

VII. Copyrights

  1. At the moment of signing the agreement with the winner of the Competition, all rights to the project and to other products, materials and documents created in connection with its realization, regardless of the form of their recording, will be transferred to the Organizer, which is The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz, which will then become the Lead Producer of the project and by virtue of which the Organiser acquires all the author’s rights and related rights mentioned in article 50 of the Act of 4 February 1994 on copyright and related rights and obtains permits to exercise the author’s dependent rights so that the Organiser’s right to use the work indefinitely both in the territory of the Republic of Poland and abroad is guaranteed. These rights include in particular:
    • all recording and multiplication of the work and any materials related to it (including uploading into the memory of a computer or other device), production of copies by any technique, including: printing, reprographic, magnetic, mechanical, optical, electronic recording, analogue or digital techniques; in any system or format; on any media, including audio or video, paper or similar, photosensitive, magnetic, optical, disks, memory bins, computer media or other recording and memory media, uploading, downloading;
    • any circulating of the work that is:
      • any broadcasting and re-broadcasting, including by wire or wireless vision or sound, by ground stations, by satellite, over cable, telecommunications or multimedia networks or any other transmission system (including simulcasting or webcasting); in unencrypted or encrypted form, in open or closed circuit; in any technique (including analogue or digital), system or format, with or without recording, including text, multimedia, Internet, telephone or telecommunications services; including pay-per-view, video on demand, near video on demand, SOD, commercial video, public video, digital telephony, sing-a-longs, aeroplanes, ships, hotels, personal video recorders, home computer servers, digital video recorders (e.g. TIVo, Replay TV, etc.), and making available using technology that is not in the public domain), and making available using streaming, high definition (HD), three-dimensional (3D) and VR technologies, as well as within any telecommunications services using any systems and devices (including but not limited to mobile phones, desktop and/or laptop computers, as well as transmissions using any available technologies e.g. GSM, UMTS etc.), by means of telecommunications networks),
      • all presentations of the work to the public in such a way that members of the public may access it from a place and at a time individually chosen by them, including by means of ground broadcasting, satellite, cable, telecommunication or multimedia networks, databases, servers or other devices and systems, including those of third parties, in open or closed circulation, in any technique, system or format, with or without recording, including the services mentioned in letters a), b) c) i) and c) ii);
      • any public performance, display, performance, exhibition,
    • use of excerpts for informational purposes and for promotion and advertising of the work and Producer
    • translation or other processing in order to adapt it to the requirements of foreign audiences
    • adapting and modifying,
    • use for training purposes, use of the work in business activities, including use in marketing and advertising, and inclusion in the Organiser’s internal publications.
  1. the winner of the Competition undertakes to obtain legal titles in the form of copyright transfer agreements or license agreements, from persons authorised by copyright, concerning the subject matter of the performance of this agreement at each of its stages in relation to all the component works of the final work. The scope of rights acquired by the winner is to enable the transfer of the final work to the Organiser and to use them in the fields of exploitation specified in item 3 above. The provisions of this item shall apply accordingly to work’s elaborations.
  2. the winner of the Competition transfers to the Organiser the exclusive and unlimited as to time and territory title to authorise the exercise of derivative copyrights to the final essay film work carried out at the vnLab Essay Film Studio in the fields of exploitation listed in point 3, in particular to authorise the disposal and use of their development. The winner also undertakes not to take any action that would limit this right in the future.
  3. the winner of the Competition authorises the Organiser to exercise their moral rights to the final essay film work carried out at the vnLab Essay Film Studio, and undertakes not to exercise their moral rights in a manner that would limit the Organiser in exercising their rights to the said works. The preceding sentence refers in particular to the decision to make the works available to recipients (the public). The Organiser undertakes to consult the winner on decisions concerning the premiere, distribution and promotion of the work.
  4. In particular, the Organiser has the right to make the final work available to the public in open access, as part of the vnLab digital publishing series at the Library and Film Information Centre of The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz.

VIII. Clarification of regulatory requirements

  1. During the Competition, those who intend to participate in it or who have made a successful application to the Competition, may contact the Organizer with questions related to the requirements of the project, as specified in this paragraph.
  2. The questions referred to in paragraph 1 above should be sent by email to the following address: and should state the first and last name of the enquiring person.
  3. Questions related to the requirements for the project should be sent no later than 06.2021.The Organiser will have answered these questions in email at the lastest by 01.07.2021.
  4. The Organiser’s answers referred to in paragraph 3 above shall be provided by email or by their publication on the Competition website.
  5. The published responses referred to in paragraph 4 above will be treated on an equal footing with the provisions of these regulations in terms of the requirements for the project.
  6. Questions sent after the expiry of the deadline provided for in paragraph 3 above shall not receive a reply.


  1. Participation in the vnLab Film Essay Competition of The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz is voluntary.
  2. The administrator of your personal data is The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz with its seat in 61/63 Targowa Street, Lodz (postal code: 90-323), tel: 422755800
  3. In matters related to your data, please contact the Data Protection Officer at The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz: Personal data are processed for the purpose of: registration of the study participant on the basis of art. 6 (1) lit. a. GDPR. The data will be stored for the time necessary to fulfil the purpose, until the end of the project’s standing. The data subject has the right to access their data, rectify, delete, restrict processing, object to processing, the right to data portability, as well as the right to lodge a complaint to the supervisory authority. Providing data is voluntary, but necessary to achieve the indicated purpose.


  1. In matters not reserved for the Competition Jury, decisions are made by the Organiser. The Organiser shall resolve any doubts concerning the interpretation of these Regulations.
  2. The competent court for any disputes shall be the common court having jurisdiction over the Organiser’s registered office.
  3. In matters not covered by these Rules and Regulations, the provisions of the Civil Code and the Act on Copyright and Related Rights shall apply.
  4. The documentation of the Competition will be kept in the archives of the Organiser.



1. Do the creators who will develop their project as part of the study retain full rights to freely dispose of the finished essay-film work as authors?

No – the Film School is the lead producer of each of the works within the Lab and, as producer, retains the rights to dispose of the work. However, the School and the Lab are open to extensive collaboration in this regard, and the Executive Producer, in collaboration with the filmmakers, is tasked with preparing a promotion and distribution strategy for the project, which will be the most important document in planning the distribution of the work once completed.

2. Is the budget referred to in III 7, in other words, an assumed cost estimate of the project submitted by the participant at the application stage? If so, how detailed should it be?

The cost estimate informs the Competition Jury about the structure of the project and the adequacy of the budget proportions to the content of the project. The budget must be sufficiently detailed to provide this information. The final budget and schedule will be developed in collaboration between the winners, the Executive Producer and the Essay FIlm Studio team.

3. Is the grant amount stated gross or net?

The given amount is gross.

4. Is there any intended duration for the proposed works?

The exact duration of the works is not specified but we encourage the proposals to be for pieces of at least 30 minutes in length (unless the shorter duration is highly justified – e.g. the piece is animated/3D rendered, or it is a spatial installation).

5. If the applicant is already enrolled in the seminars of the Essay Film Studio, does he/she/they need to apply with the same project they described in the application for the seminars?

No, applicants are free to apply with whatever project they see fit for the program, taking under consideration the imposed limitations (the piece needs to be finished before September 2022 and possible to realize within the budget of 10-16k EUR).

6. Who are the members of the Competition Jury?

We are currently recruiting the Competition Jury, but it’s our goal to appoint a diverse, international group of people film professionals with ties to the institutions potentially interested in production and dissemination of the essay film works. We will inform the applicants as soon as the jury gets appointed.