18th FilmAT Festival

On 29 February 2024, the Awards Gala of the eighteenth edition of the FilmAT Festival took place at the headquarters of the Museum of Sport and Tourism in Warsaw. The background of the ceremony was the famous ‘Wall of Glory’ with the Olympic gold medals of our athletes. It should be recalled that the Museum of Sport and Tourism in Warsaw has been included by the IOC in the Olympic Museums Network, comprising only 22 institutions from around the world, on account of its merits.

The gala ceremony began with the screening of a spot promoting the beauty of the Mazovian land, which is hosting the Festival participants for the 18th time. The Mazovian Voivodeship Government is a partner of the 18th FilmAT Festival in a very special year, as it celebrates its 25th jubilee. Partners of the 18th FilmAT Festival also include the Polish Tourism Organisation and the Museum of Sport and Tourism in Warsaw, which is also hosting the event.

The Grand Prix of the 18th FilmAT Festival – the International Festival of Tourism Films, Television Documentaries and Corporate Films – was awarded to the film ‘Bydgoszcz – more beautiful than you think’. We are all pleased, because the way of showing such an important and beautiful city caught the attention of experienced promotion experts. They were seduced by this crazy concept of showing Bydgoszcz!

The decision relating to the festival’s highest prize was a very difficult one, as the jurors were taking many films into consideration. Another strong candidate for the Grand Prix was the first prize in the City Promotion/Tourism Communication category, the film ‘Wrocław – the city of Adventure’ submitted by the Municipality of Wrocław, which tempted the jury with its youthfulness, fantasy and mystery, as well as the first prize in the same category for the film ‘600 years of Łódź – an animated history of the city of Łódź’ by the Łódź Tourism Organisation, which not only presents the history of Łódź in an extremely interesting way, but also corresponds to the traditions of Łódź animation.

It is extremely pleasing that the world’s only TOURIST OWL statuette was awarded at this edition of the Festival. This award, created by Alexander V. Kammel – President of the International Tourfilm Academy, is awarded to films of outstanding scientific and educational value. The beautiful owl statuette with wings ready to fly was designed, like the Tourist statuettes, by the well-known sculptor Jacek Podlasiński. The Tourist Owl 2023 statuette was received by Ms Ewa Ewart, who put in an enormous amount of work to create the film “Until the Last Drop” (TVN Warner Bros. Discovery). Ewa Ewart did not take any shortcuts, this solidly produced film allows us to follow in detail the great problem concerning the freshwater resources of our entire Mother Earth.

This is the 18th edition of FilmAT, so the Festival is now of age. We were therefore inspired to make some summaries. Over these 18 years, 157 jurors from all over the world have worked with us, and for the last 15 years the jury has been headed by Zbigniew Żmudzki. It was a great honour for us to present Mr Zbigniew Żmudzki with the statuette TURYSTA 2023, highlighting his merits on the international stage in the world of feature, animation and promotional films…. We are proud to mention that he is the producer of the film ‘Peter and the Wolf’, which won the world’s highest film award, an Oscar statuette, in 2008.

And who from the world of tourism is close to our hearts after these long years of the festival? It was a great honour for us to present the statuette of TOURIST 2023 for the promotion of tourism in the world to Ms Barbara Tutak, who has worked with us on behalf of the Polish Tourist Organisation, as President of the Warsaw Tourist Organisation, as a top-ranking expert in promoting the tourism values of our beautiful country.

For several years now, the Festival Gala has been accompanied by butterflies made by Ewa Kotus, the Festival Director, presented on diplomas. They not only provide the artistic setting for the Festival, but are also part of the great educational and ecological programme “Butterfly Glade” on saving butterflies, so much needed by mother nature.

The FilmAT Festival evaluates film productions in three main areas: Tourism Communications, Documentary Films and Television Reports and Corporate Films. It is quite a challenge every year for the jury to select the best films in all three themes. This year, under the chairmanship of Zbigniew Żmudzki, the deliberators were (in alphabetical order): Aleksandra Czechowicz-Woźniak, Nicolay Kostov, Magdalena Krucz and Barbara Tutak. The biographies of all jury members can be found on the festival website www.filmat-festival.com . Traditionally, the Jury, in addition to deciding on the individual categories of the festival, was able to decide which films could compete for the Tourist Owl award from the INTERNATIONAL TOURFILM ACADEMY.

The level of this year’s FilmAT Festival, as emphasised by the jurors, was very high, but some films in particular have been memorable for their subject matter or the actors in them. For the first time at the Gala, we hosted children, the protagonists of the film ’25 years of Arup in Poland: the world in 25 years through the eyes of children’, which won as many as two awards, the Corporate Image film award and the Festival Director’s Award. The unusual idea of the internationally renowned ARUP company to have the children speak on the future of this superpower in the design of purposeful, simple, efficient and beautiful buildings and structures surprised, but also appealed to the jury members. The children’s clear, honest, and oh-so-accurate statements about the future are disarming, but also motivating for deep thought and discussion…. With seriousness, therefore, we listened during the Ceremony to Ania and Marcel talk about the behind-the-scenes of the making of this film.

For years, jury chairman Zbigniew Żmudzki has been introducing us to the world of animation, taking our guests to Łódź, to Se-Ma-For, we were observing the work of animators and learning their secrets. This year, the film ‘The mysterious Amulet’ produced by signSTUDIOS Filmproduktion & Multimedia Agentur, awarded in the Environment & Ecology category, captured our hearts. It promotes the famous National Park in Austria in an unconventional way. The award was accepted by the animator of the film’s main characters Tobias Deicke, who revealed many of the secrets involved in the production of this beautiful animated film.

There was, of course, no shortage of very difficult topics. Documentaries submitted by TVN Warner Bros. Discovery ‘Under the Taliban’s Rule’, ‘Young Belarus’ are of great value to any viewer, as they address current issues of the world around us.

Adreas Ewels’ ZDF documentary ‘Death at the Zoo’ (‘Death at the Zoo’), awarded in the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ category, will certainly remain in everyone’s memory. For when we go to the zoo, we never think about the fact that there are wild animals there after all, so the proverbial law of the jungle, where the stronger wins, also applies to them….

The valuable documentary ‘In the service of the Blue Cross’, submitted by the Centre for Culture and the Arts in Wrocław and awarded in the category ‘Sustainable and responsible tourism’, leaves no one indifferent, as it strongly emphasises: Think before you go to the mountains!

Also guests and big winners at the Festival were beautiful mothers of disabled children from the Community Self-help Centre in Żoliborz, Warsaw. They featured in the award-winning film “Be afraid and be happy” (1st prize in the Human Affairs and Social Problems category and a special award from the Festival Director). They spoke openly about their experiences, fears, troubles, but also about the great love they have for their children.

The very interesting series “Malopolska – a Travel Destination” by the City of Kraków-Kraków Convention Bureau and the Malopolska Tourism Organisation will remain in our memories. Very good films in the corporate categories were presented by the companies: MOD21, Stalprodukt-Zamość, Intermag and F.P.U.H.Joniec. MZA in Warsaw promotes a healthy lifestyle in a very interesting way in its film “MZA moves Warsaw with good energy“. The ERBUD Foundation, which helps children without families become independent, proved in the film that there is potential in everyone to help, they just need to be encouraged to do so…. Expo-Łódź presented a modern event space that can be arranged in any way you like, and we found a strong accent related to tradition in the film ‘Museum of Vistula Trade in Grudziądz’. On the social theme, the film ‘221’ was also interesting.

By a resolution of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, 2023 has been established as the Year of Nicolaus Copernicus. Therefore, there could be no missing out on highlighting at least some of the merits of this great scientist, which were discussed in the award-winning film ‘The story of Nicolaus Copernicus’ astronomical table’, submitted by the Municipality of Olsztyn. Every Pole knows that our great scientist has proved: The Earth revolves around the Sun. But not everyone knows, as strongly emphasised in the Senate resolution, “that the Warmian canon was a true Renaissance man – an astronomer, mathematician, lawyer, civil servant, diplomat, physician, doctor of canon law, he was also involved in economic theory, military strategy, cartography and philology. In world science, he is regarded as the founder of the scientific method of inquiring into the truth.”

After the Awards Gala, there was of course time for backstage discussions over a glass of wine and tasty refreshments. The dessert was special – a delicious cake prepared by the „Olczak i syn” Confectionery with an image of the most important butterfly of the Festival – Catasticta copernicus, which was discovered in the Andes in the Copernican Year by scientists from the Jagiellonian University, and named in honour of this great scientist.

Please visit the Festival website www.filmat-festival.com, where all the great winners of the 18th edition are presented.

18th FilmAT Festival