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Robert Bodrog

The latest film industry and film festival news across Europe.


Wajda's “Walesa: Man of Hope” Fast-Tracked For U.K. and Ireland Release

The past couple of weeks have been good ones for legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda. His latest film Walesa: Man of Hope which chronicles the rise of Lech Walesa, who became Poland's first president of the post-communism era, received a standing ovation following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, and screened earlier this week at the Toronto International Film Festival to wide acclaim.

Since then, the film has garnered lots of favorable reviews, generating considerable buzz. Initially scheduled for release in Poland on October 4, it was announced this week that Walesa will be released in London, Belfast and Dublin on October 18.
This is the first time that a Polish film has received a nearly simultaneous domestic and foreign release. This decision indicates the emergence of new markets for Polish films in cities with a significant Polish immigrant presence, and not just in American cities such as New York and Chicago. Significantly, the past decade has seen a large Polish emigration to the U.K. and especially Ireland, where Poles currently comprise the largest minority group in the country.
Robert Wieckiewicz Walesa Set Photo
So purely in terms of target demographics, the choice to fast-track the film's release date in London, Belfast and Dublin makes good business sense. In fact, Wajda's biopic might make some film history of its own, as it stands a good chance to be the first Polish film to earn more in foreign box-office than domestically.
If that happens, this could represent a major paradigm shift in terms of how Polish features are distributed, given the existence of new lucrative markets which previously did not exist. And that would definitely be good news for the Polish film industry, which historically has been impeded by the fact that, however well made, there was a limited market for its films outside its borders. 
However, with more Poles living outside of Poland in recent years, it was only a matter of time before marketing savvy caught up with reality and realized the potential revenue to be had by distributing Polish films to foreign markets where they're likely to do well. 
Walesa: Man of Hope will have its Polish premiere on September 21 in Warsaw, and then screens at the London International Film Festival on October 11.

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