The sounds of cello

The international success of the film “Liszki. I’m from here”

If anyone wondered whether a promotional film should participate in international festivals in different parts of the world, the successes of the year 2022 of the Liszki Municipality must convince them of this. Winning awards at successive festivals, the film broke through to the top of the CIFFT international ranking in the category of Region Promotion.

“Liszki. I’m from here” – already the title is an invitation. Aleksandra Lelek , a cellist with international musical successes, comes from the world to her beloved Liszki , revealing her beautiful memories to the audience. She is a musician, so of course this is accompanied by a beautiful piece of music performed by her, written for cello, especially for this film. Ms Aleksandra charms us with the tranquillity of Liszki, the wonderful landscapes, the taste of the bread roll her grandfather used to buy for breakfast, or the beauty of the red beads her grandmother gave her. It’s so unpretentious, in a good way… It’s so beautiful…

Music, broad colours, smells, tastes, people can stay in our memory forever and when memories come back because of even one of these elements, we recall the whole. And so it is with such a well-made film too. It does not have to be produced for a very large sum of money, but it does have to contain some important elements to become part of our memory. You really have to congratulate Agnieszka Pyla, – Director of Promotion of Liszki Commune, for being able to do this…

The notes of this beautiful piece for cello, performed by Aleksandra Lelek and her ensemble, will always recall in our memories the enchanting scenery and traditions of the Liszki commune, located a stone’s throw from Krakow.

Traditions of the Liszki Commune

The film’s first successes date back to 2021, when at FilmAT Festival, I first saw the film ‘Liszki. I’m from here’. I started to wonder what I know about this commune. And suddenly a flash of awareness! Lisiecka sausage! This is one of my favorite meats. Noble, made of the best meat – mainly ham with spices (garlic and white pepper), one of the tastiest Polish sausages, made for a long time in Liszki and its vicinity. In the times of the Polish People’s Republic, its production was almost liquidated, but the recipes have been preserved thanks to a clandestine, illegal production in private homes. After the political changes at the end of the 20th century, we can taste it again. Local butchers from Liszki work and the fame of lisiecka sausage has even reached Łódź, where I live, although it is not easy to hunt it in a shop here. Also other butcher’s products from this region have an excellent reputation, thanks to both the recipes and the quality of meat from local farms. Liszki is famous not only for their sausages. Round pancakes with cheese and raisins, called “kołacz”, and traditional rolls – called “kukiełki” (puppets) are also excellent. The”kukiełki” rolls, baked only in Liszki, are oblong rolls made of well-massaged bread dough, with a taste reminiscent of Italian ciabatta, but with a delicate, crispy crust. As luxury bread, once offered as a wedding gift and by godparents to children.

The traditions of Krakow folklore are cultivated in the Liszki Commune. For holidays as Corpus Christi processions or harvest festivals, costumes from Krakow are dressed in the Liszki variety. The correctness of clothes is often supervised by an ethnographer who makes sure that ladies do not wear, for example, high heels, but shoes that match the whole dress.

The folklore Song and Dance Ensemble “Ziemia Lisiecka” operates here. The group’s repertoire includes dances and songs from various regions of Poland, but the most important place is occupied by the Cracovian dance, which is closest to the hearts of the ensemble members due to their place of residence.

The Liszki Commune is located just outside Kraków, in the southern part of a beautiful land called Jura Krakowsko – Częstochowska (Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, also known as the Polish Jurassic Highland). It is close to the city, so it’s easy to find and worth the trip. There are many attractions for townspeople seeking both active contact with nature and those who want to relax. There are two nature reserves worth exploring. One is the Mnikowska Valley – a classic karst ravine where we can admire various forms of land relief typical for limestone Jurassic formations. In the middle of the valley there is a clearing with an altar from 1863 with a painting of the Virgin Mary on the rock wall. The second nature reserve is a fragment of the right slope of the Zimny Dół valley with karst rocks.

Nearby, in Piekary, there is a neo-Gothic palace from the second half of the 19th century worth seeing.There is also a palace in Kryspinów, but the biggest attraction here is Zalew Kryspinowski, also known as Zalew na Piaskach – a lake with a length of over one and a half kilometers, created on a sand and gravel excavation. In summer, the reservoir is eagerly visited by the inhabitants of Krakow, who want to spend time actively or relax by the water.

So let’s go back to 2021 and boast about the awards in the competition of the 16th FilmAT Festival in Warsaw, because after all, they were the ones that started the film’s great global successes. The film won the first prize in the national competition and the second prize in the international competition in the category of city or commune promotion. It was also noticed at the most important and largest global festival of promotional and corporate films, the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, where it qualified for the finals of the competition, having as competitors over a thousand films from all over the world, with a budget many times higher than the Polish financing possibilities for such works.

The film from Liszki stands out above all with a very good idea and a script consistently realized on the set. As I found out, the idea came from Agnieszka Pyla – the energetic head of the Culture, Promotion and Sport Department of the commune office. The great direction, cinematography, editing and soundtrack are also worth mentioning. For several years I have been invited to the jury of the FilmAt Festival and I must say, that in many promotional films, not only Polish but also from other countries, cliché and lack of ideas reign. To attract the viewer, it is not enough to show a series of postcard shots, but to show something original. An idea that worked well in “I’m from Here” is the introduction of a beautiful cellist and a nostalgic notes in her stories about her homeland. All this, combined with beautiful photos and well-chosen music, goes to the viewer. Poles associate the “beautiful cellist” with the great pop hit and even for this reason, we may like the introduction of such a character in a promotional film. Besides, she is a very talented young person who is making a career in the music world. Aleksandra Lelek is appreciated not only as a performer, but also as a teacher in Poland and Belgium.

The choice of the studio making the film is very important. Much better results are achieved if the creators are professionals film producers, and not just amateurs whose only output is servicing weddings and other family celebrations. “I’m from here …” was produced by Mateusz Dziwis and Adam Gawenda from AG Studio. It is a production house from Silesia with a great track record in the production, in particular of music films. For the music video for the song of Mrozu, they received the main award of the Eska MUSIC Awards 2014 for the best clip of the year, and their music video for Agnieszka Chylińska received the Eska Award in 2017. We can see that practice in creating music videos helps a lot in making promotional videos. This applies especially to image and sound editing. It is important that the rhythm of the editing cuts of the film shots match the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of the sound effects and the rhythm of the spoken texts. If it does not fit, the viewer feels discomfort and the work does not affect him. In “I’m from here …” all these rhythms are in the wright place. The pictures useed in the film are not only specially shot photos, but also short amateur shots presenting the main protagonist’s journeys. It fits perfectly in the convention of the movie, despite lower quality.

Music plays a very important role in the promotional work. Unfortunately, in many productions of this type, creators usually include songs from music librarys, such as the well-known one located in Paris. Unfortunately, it is usually very clichéd “Vangelis-like” music. It is much better to use folk music from the region to be promoted, and even better to order a composition from a professional composer. This is what the producers of the film did. The music was composed by Marcin Pawłowski. He is a young Polish, very versatile composer and arranger, moving from hip-hop to classical music. He wrote a beautiful piece for cello solo performed in the film by Aleksandra Lelek. Aleksandra also talks beautifully and nostalgically about the land of her childhood.

Liszki is a commune that cares about promotion. Its location, by the motorway and the airport, very close to Kraków, can be attractive to investors. That is why the municipal authorities with the mayor, Paweł Miś, and the Community Council take care of the promotion of their small homeland by implementing the well-prepared projects of Agnieszka Pyla, the creative head of marketing and promotion.

I have calculated, the promotional film “Liszki. I’m from here” has won as many as seven awards at international festivals. Congratulations!

Zbigniew Żmudzki

Translation: Wojciech Jaworek
Photos: Department of Promotion – Liszki Comune

“Liszki. I’m from here”

The sounds of cello