I can hardly believe I’m writing it – another year is behind us! While 2020 was revolutionary for me in so many fields, 2021 is rather a year of boring stabilization and adaptation to the new normality. Although many of my good habits developed last year have been put aside (including the regularity of blog entries), there are reasons to be happy – and these I mostly wanna share with you.
Work & projects
If you are interested in a comprehensive 2021 summary of the life of the Ad Arte Foundation, click here. Personally, of course, I am most pleased with the successful 13th edition of the Short Waves Festival and our consistency in the implementation of online activities – I feel like a true veteran of hybrid solutions, mainly thanks to This Is Short. The first half of the year was mainly marked by lockdown and preparations for the festival, and in the second half, thanks to the availability of covid-19 vaccines and a slight loosening of restrictions, I was able to go to several film festivals – you have no idea how much I missed it!
Travelling and jury life
Over the course of 5 months, I visited Filmfest Dresden, where I took part in a great conversation Curating as political act, and then I had a pleasure to be a jury at 4 festivals in Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany. A week’s stay at the Odense Film Festival gave me a solid encounter with Danish short cinema: I had to watch 42 titles competing for 2 awards. As the jury, we agreed that the selection was quite overwhelming – dominated by social dramas and themes such as family dysfunctions, violence, drug problems and other dark narratives, which I saw as a symptom of fatigue with the conservative family model and the pressure felt by young artists. Ultimately, we awarded two titles: “Amourteur”, an intelligent analysis of mourning after the breakdown of a relationship by Sylvia Le Fanu (known to the wider audience from Oscar-nominated “Father Adnan”) and a refreshingly fun phallic journey into space, the animation “When the moon was gibbous” directed by Erika Grace Strada.
It is also worth mentioning that in Odense I attended the most ecstatic and joyful awards ceremony I have ever experienced. Mainly due to the charismatic director Birgitte Weinberger, who is not afraid of live singing and serving her audience tequila shots during the event. Be like Birgitte!
I continued my Scandinavian tournee and went to Sweden to pay a visit to Sundsvall Film Festival – a relatively young festival, celebrating its fourth edition. 10 films selected to the Norrland Shorts competition were a contemporary, diverse panorama of film genres and forms, and the jury delibaration lasted over 4 hours! The award went to “Nights and days in July” – an intimate study of loneliness, femininity and desire, perfectly played by Jana Bringlöv Ekspong, who is also the director and the main actress in the film. Among the highlights of the trip, I must also mention the event organized by the Swedish Film Center, which took place … in a swingers club in the basement of a local sex shop. Local band performance among dark rooms, torture machines and chains – top memories of 2021!
In autumn, I also went to the Czech Republic, where I was a part of the jury at the East Silver Market, which takes place as part of the Jihlava International Documentary Festival – the largest documentary film festival in Central and Eastern Europe. I was delighted with the scale and energy of the project, as well as of the openness of the documentary film industry. The market is a project organized by the Documentary Film Institute in Prague, a website of which I recommend visiting as it is very active in the field of promoting valuable film projects and initiating discussions around the medium of documentary.
The end of my festival season was a short trip to Filmfest Cottbus, where the jury awarded the film Techno, Mama, – a Lithuanian candidate for the European Film Awards by Saulius Baradinskas.
Apart from all the lovely festivals I continued my little habit of organizing mini-trips with my friends, so in the end 2021 included also hiking, kayaking and many other short-distance journeys within Poland. If you ever need any travelling tips – let me know!
The return to traveling (mainly by train!) helped me to keep up with my good habit of using the e-reader. There are two titles I would like to recommend – a series of essays Notes to self by Emily Pine and How to Do Nothing: Manifesto Against the Cult of Productivity by Jenny Odell – I found both eyes opening. For the lovers of short forms, I have two collections of short stories: Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh and Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell. Let’s conclude this list with two books in the field of politics: a terrifying case study – How fascism works by Jason F. Stanley and Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David van Reybrouck. If you are a nerd like me, follow me on Goodreads.
I don’t know much about video games, but in 2021 I played more than I would expect, so let me recommend you the brilliant Inside, and for two players – It Takes Two, which I played with Mathieu in the fall. I’m not a special fan of series, but this year I was mostly excited about the third season of Succession (2021) and – to balance it – Fassbinder’s working-class miniseries Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972). When it comes to best feature films – I won’t bore you – you can check my top 30 on Letterboxd.
Other reasons to be happy
For the first time in two years I was at a music festival! And not just any – I visited the one and only Le Guess Who? in Utrecht. Although the second half of the festival took place in the shadow of the lockdown, I managed to see at least a dozen of gigs, including highlights like The Microphones, Pink Siifu, Bendik Giske and Klein. As announced last year – I started roller skating! I am also learning Dutch, but still no visible (or audible) progress there, haha. Big life changes are coming for me next year, so 2022 – bring it on! ❤