International productions in Poland – 2017 Summary

31 January 2018

In 2017 Polish locations were selected by, among others, producers from the United States, France, Germany, Denmark and India. Polish exterior and interior locations appeared in historical and contemporary films, in science-fiction and in fantasy.

Historical productions

The exterior locations without modern elements and the diverse buildings which have survived in excellent condition and can be easily adapted to the needs of set design make Poland a popular choice for historical productions. In February, Lower Silesia hosted the crew of historic feature film "Der Hauptmann," directed by Robert Schwentke ("Red", "Insurgent", "Allegiant"). Based on facts, the film tells a story from the end of the Second World War about daring acts of a faux captain and a group of deserters. It was filmed over the period of three months in the area of Wrocław and Zgorzelec. The producers were Filmgalerie 451 from Berlin and Opus Film and Tempus Film from Poland.

"My Name Is Sara" is also set during the Second World War. It tells a story of a 13-years-old Jewish girl who after losing her entire family and a gruelling flight finds refuge in the house of a Ukrainian couple, but in turn gets entangled in their marital feud. All of the 45 filming days, which took place between August 2017 and January 2018, were realised in the Podlasie region, among others in Rybołowy, Tykocin, Czerlonka, Puchły and Białystok. The script was created by David Himmelstein ("Bad Company"), and the picture was directed by Steven Oritt, who together with Justyna Pawlak from Watchout Productions ("Gods", "The Art of Loving") was also the producer.

From summer to autumn Lower Silesia also hosted the crew of "Werewolf," a Polish-German-Dutch co-production directed by Adrian Panek ("Daas"). The film takes place in the summer of 1945, and the protagonists are eight children liberated from Gross-Rosen concentration camp. The filming took place in the Stołowe Mountains National Park, in the mansion in Bulowice, and in the Molke Museum. The picture was produced by Agata Szymańska and Magdalena Kamińska from Balapolis ("Baby Bump", "Parasite").

The producers of "Bose. Dead / Alive" a TV series about an Indian freedom fighter and a national hero were also looking for exterior locations in Poland. Produced for ALT Balaji, the TV series involved a Polish crew comprising over 50 people, over 200 extras, over a dozen bit players, and a historical re-enactment group. Locations from Lesser Poland portrayed Germany, Austria and Manchuria. The Polish line producer was Krzysztof Sołek from Film Polska Productions, ("Kick", "The Last Witness").

Contemporary productions

More contemporary locations, in turn, played in the spectacular Indian action film "Mersal" ("Vijay 61"), in which as the protagonist starred Tamil film star Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar. The shooting took place in June, in four Polish cities: Gdańsk, Sopot, Poznań and Rzeszów. During the 18 filming days, 50 Indian and 80 Polish filmmakers, and over 3,000 extras worked on the set. In the picture Poznań and Gdańsk stood in for Paris. "Mersal" was produced by Sri Thenandal Films, and the Polish executive producers was Marcin Andruchów from Muchas Gracias. He was responsible for, among others, scouting and preparing locations, organising the shooting, casting extras, preparing the set design, props and the equipment.

A song from "Mersal" shot in Gdańsk

A lot happened in Łódź, which last year received the title of UNESCO City of Film, and the regional film fund celebrated its tenth anniversary. Since June, Opus Film produced a new crime TV series "Ultraviolet", commissioned by Sony Pictures Television (SPT) Networks Central Europe, the owner of AXN. The series inspired by Deborah Halber’s novel "The Skeleton Crew" is directed by Jan Komasa ("Warsaw 44", "Suicide Room") and Sławomir Fabicki ("Loving", "The Crime 2"). The executive producers are Wendy West ("Dexter," "The Blacklist") and Barry Josephson ("Bones", "Enchanted", "Wild Wild West").

In the summer Łódź became the filmset for a Moroccan-French-Polish documentary "The Director’s Chair, Mostafa Derkaoui" directed by Sophie Delvallée. The Polish co-producer was Małgorzata Wabińska from Entertain Pictures. The German-Polish road film "Whatever Happens Next" directed by Julian Pörksen was also filmed in Łódź. The Polish co-producer was Agnieszka Dziedzic from Koi Studio ("Little Crushes", "Double Trouble"); the Polish filmmakers were responsible for, among others, set design, costume design, sound, lighting and production management.

Sci-fi and fantasy productions

Last year Poland also hosted two projects from the science-fiction and fantasy genres. The first one was "High Life", Claire Denis’s debut in English ("Chocolate", "Beau Travail") with Robert Pattinson ("Cosmopolis") and Juliette Binoche ("Sils Maria") as the protagonists. The shooting of the French-German-British-Polish co-production took place in autumn in the area of Białystok. Polish filmmakers were responsible for cinematography, set design and make-up. The film was co-produced by Klaudia Śmieja and Beata Rzeźniczek from Madants ("Under the Tree", "Pity").

The second project is "Thannanaya", a Scandinavian family fantasy TV series, produced by DR Drama Television. The Danish producers were looking for very diverse locations to do justice to the story, which takes the young protagonist through magical, fairy-tale worlds. In the end, they found all the exterior and interior locations in Poland. At the turn of autumn and winter, accompanied by a Polish crew, they spent 27 filming days in Stołowe Mountains, in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland and in the Słowiński National Park. Marta Habior from No Sugar Films ("Denial", "Baba Vanga") was in charge of the production in Poland.

Among international productions announced to be realised in Poland, there are among others two Netflix productions: an alternate history television series directed by Agnieszka Holland and an adaptation of “The Witcher” series created by Andrzej Sapkowski. Polish locations will also be used in productions which are currently at the development stage for example German-Polish-Canadian "Adventures of a Mathematician" directed by Thorsten Klein, American-British-Polish "Gareth Jones" directed by Agnieszka Holland, and Israeli-Polish "A War Has Ended" directed by Hagar Ben-Asher.

Polish filmmakers and producers are eagerly waiting for the introduction of financial incentives, which are expected to boost the development of the audio-visual sector. The solution introducing 25% cash rebate on qualifying expenses has been announced last year by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.