Chopin Playing Main Part
Third Conference of Polish Tourfilm Academy

The role of our fifth Film, Art & Tourism Festival as well as the third Polish Tourfilm Academy “Chopin in Film” was extremely important, because these two events had to provide an assessment and summary of the activities connected with the film productions, presentations and photo exhibitions prepared for the Grand Celebration of the Bicentennial Birthday of Frederic Chopin.

Traditionally Festival and III Conference Polish Tourfilm Academy was organized under patronage of the highest state authorities including the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Ministry Sport & Tourism, Polish Film Institute, Polish Tourist Organization.

In the Year of Chopin by unanimous decision of the fifth Film, Art & Tourism Festival the grand prize, 2010 TOURIST statuette, which normally is granted to filmmakers who popularize Poland abroad (previous winners include Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski, Se-Ma-For Studios, Leon Schiller National School of Film, Theater & Television), went to Rafał Blechacz, currently the greatest Polish pianist, and Małgorzata Błoch-Wiśniewskiej, director of the CHOPIN 2010 Celebration Office. Rafał Blechacz is the winner of the fifteenth International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition (2005). Since that time the tickets for his concerts, both at home and abroad, have been selling out very fast, for the international audiences took such a fancy for his play and interpretation of Chopin. Małgorzata Błoch-Wiśniewska, who didn’t expect any awards and distinctions, has put a part of her soul in every initiative featuring Chopin. Her great personal engagement and knowledge have facilitated the creation of many film productions, presentations, exhibitions and compositions dedicated to the composer.

The Film, Art & Tourism Festival has conferred twenty CHOPIN 2010 statuettes. The special statuette was designed by Jacek Podlasiński. It will be a great memento dedicated to Frederic Chopin. All the people involved in the works connected with the grand celebration of the composer’s birthday have deeply opened their hearts. I would like to say a word or two about some of them, especially those who participated in the third meeting of the Polish Tourfilm Academy “Chopin in Film”.

Prof. Francisco Dias, scientist, director of the Art & Tur Festival in Barcelos, Portugal, explained in his lecture how important are national celebrations in promoting the country and developing tourism in the region. Stressing the importance of the CHOPIN 2010 anniversary on the international scale, he pointed that Poland needs great cultural events in contrast with Portugal, which may focus mainly on sports. The discussion was very extensive since it is always great to talk to a representative of the country that boasts so many geographical discoveries, and that has spread its own culture in every part of the world.

Andrzej Danowski, director of the Center for Natural Photography (PTTK) made a presentation called Chopin’s Places in Old Photographs. The audience fell into silence, looking attentively at the collection of unusual photos and listening to Chopin’s works and the composer’s own poetry.

David Cooper, well-known (holder of numerous awards) Spanish producer, made a presentation entitled Chopin in Majorca, which illustrated the importance of the places connected with Chopin around the world, not only for the Polish people but also for the lovers of the composer’s music. Everyone was impressed with our colleague’s knowledge of Frederic Chopin’s life and works.

Małgorzata Błoch-Wiśniewska, director of the CHOPIN 2010 Celebration Office, presented a 2005 documentary entitled Chopin’s Heart. The production is very emotional, especially for Polish people, because it deals with the most important issue for every Pole, namely Polish national identity and history, which allowed the country to regain its freedom in the end. The documentary made a tremendous impression of journalists and filmmakers from other countries, provoking a wide debate about freedom, patriotism and the influence of Frederic Chopin music around the world.

Barbara Tekieli, director of the Warsaw Tourist Bureau, engaged in the organization of the Chopin celebration events, talked about the initiatives of the Warsaw authorities undertook in connection with the Chopin trail. She also emphasized the importance of Frederic Chopin Museum located in Okólnik St. During the meeting she presented a poster exhibition featuring the young composer, whose authors portrayed Chopin living in modern days. It is an unusual exhibition, whose individual works are decorating the main bus and tram stops, both in the capital and other Polish cities.

Jadwiga Orczyk-Miziołek, president of the Local Tourism Organization CHOPIN’S MASOVIA, made a presentation of the cultural events taking place in the Province of Masovia in connection with the Chopin anniversary. Masovia is the province whose beauty the composer glorified in his works. A special attention should be given to Frederic Chopin Museum in Żelazowa Wola, which was revamped for the Year of Chopin. The participants of the festival had an opportunity to see Chopin’s Masovia, an exhibition prepared by eight photographers connected with the Local Tourism Organization and Płock Photography Society.

Andrzej Łojko, well-known photographer, presented an exhibition entitled Traditions & Inspirations. The photos in many formats resemble more the works of the great Dutch masters rather than the works of modern photographers. They created a unique atmosphere during the meeting.

Jerzy Szkamruk prepared a multimedia exhibition entitled Chopin the Traveler, which comprised of the photographs featuring the places connected with Frederic Chopin and a special exhibition of the Polish National Bank, Banknotes and Coins with the Image of Frederic Chopin. The exhibition could be seen in Old Town in Płock.

Chopin in film

There were five entrants featuring Chopin. The Management of the Festival decided to create a special category called Chopin in Film, which would receive a Grand Prix CHOPIN 2010. The category was judged by foreign producers and filmmakers who were present at the Festival.

The judges of the fifth Film, Art & Tourism have awarded two productions in the Chopin in Film category:
An Agnieszka Holland & Magdalena Łazurkiewicz film, WARSAW – ECC 2016, and Jerzy Szkamruk & Piotr Sławiński’s FRYDERYK 2010.

Chopin 2010 distinctions in this category went to:
Chopin’s Masovia by Zbigniew Szumera,
Chopin’s Warsaw by Kordian Piwowarski, and
Chopin’s Szafarnia by Ryszard Kruk.

The Management of the Festival awarded the film in the following categories:
Fryderyk 2010 by Jerzy Szkamruk & Piotr Sławiński for the best soundtrack,
Fryderyk 2010 by Jerzy Szkamruk & Piotr Sławiński for the best pictures,
Maria Pomianowska has received a special award for her music in Fryderyk 2010,
Warsaw-ECC 2016 by Agnieszka Holland & Magdalena Łazarkiewicz for the best script,
Chopin’s Warsaw by Kordian Piwowarski for the best film portraying the history of the city of Warsaw,
Chopin’s Masovia by Zbigniew Szumera for the best educational film, and
Chopin’s Szafarnia by Ryszard Kruk for the best film for the youth.

The producers participating in the festival unanimously decided that the Grand Prix CHOPIN 2010 should go to FRYDERYK 2010. A special, unique statuette was conferred upon Jerzy Szkamruk.

Chopin’s Warsaw live

The participants of the conference who came from Greece, Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Russia and Austria could have a glimpse at how Warsaw reacts to the Chopin celebrations. The discussions and screenings took place in the Museum of Ethnography, located in Kredytowa St., the very heart of the city, which is close to the places connected with the composer, for instance, the nearby evangelical church, in which Chopin concerted. The interior of the copper domed church is a place where regular piano concerts have been held up to this day.

The streets of Warsaw are decorated with Chopin posters at every bus stop and kiosks encouraging people to take part in numerous festivals and concerts, and large banners placed on prominent buildings such as WU Old Library and the central campus building in Krakowskie Przedmieście. From Krasiński Square to Nowy Świat tourists can rest on a series of benches situated by the historical sites connected with the composer. The benches not only provide a background information on the sites but also play one of the composer’s works. Everyone who has visited the capital this year has no doubt as to which person this year is dedicated to.

The guests of the Polish Tourfilm Academy could not have possibly missed all of these efforts. A walk on Krakowskie Przedmieście is more like touring a scenic museum of Chopin. It is the street that has been a Warsaw salon since the early 19th century, where Chopin’s family & social life was concentrated.

The Chopin family lived in an annex to the Saxon Palace (only a colonnade has survived, which is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), in the Kazimierzowski Palace (presently Warsaw University) and Czapski Palace (present-day Department of Graphics of the Academy of Fine Arts). In Krakowski Przedmieście at the present-day residence of the Polish president, young Frederic Chopin gave his first concert. As a prodigy child of Warsaw the composer played the piano in the nearby Visitationist Church.

Above the street there stand Baroque steeples of the Holy Cross Church. The composer’s heart upon returning to Poland was sealed within a pillar of the church. The participants of the conference had an opportunity to see Chopin’s Heart, a film telling a dramatic story of the urn containing the composer’s heart that miraculously survived the destruction of the city in 1944.

Fortunately, the visitors to Warsaw in the Year of Chopin ccould see newly renovated and restored heritage sites. The anniversary helped raise funds for e.g. restoration of the façade of the Visitionist Church.

The most important point on the tourist map is the reopened Chopin Museum in the Ostrogski Palace (completely revamped in March). Together with the new residence of the Frederic Chopin National Institute, renovated University of Music, and the revitalized nearby Bohdan Wodiczki Square, they have become a true landmark of the city of Chopin.

The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Chopin documents and manuscripts, which include scores and letters. One of the most precious exhibits is the Pleyel piano which the composer played at the dusk of his life. The exhibits are currently displayed in a new arrangement by Italian architects from Migliore and Servetto (Milan).

The visitors receive an electronic chip instead of a regular ticket that functions as a museum guide. Using the chip in designated areas allow the visitors to listen to Chopin music or to watch films and pictures or to turn virtual pages of old manuscripts and scores. Multimedia touch screens, projectors, and hundreds of invisible speakers take the visitors on a biographical trip through Chopin’s life. Each visitor can take a different trip.

Eleven rooms of the four-storied palace tell a story of the most important stages of the composer’s life. They are arranged thematically and chronologically. The separate rooms are dedicated to the composer’s birthplace, childhood, Warsaw days, and his stay in Paris. There are rooms that are devoted to the artist’s numerous travels, ladies and personal life.

The visitors are greatly impressed with the palace basement, a brick bastion, which wasn’t open to the public in the past. The brick walls hide a small concert hall, among others. A huge glass screen above the stage and wooden shutters provide good acoustic qualities. Chopin Museum is yet another place that makes Warsaw a city of modern exhibitions.

The day of the conference was crowned with a dinner at Honoratka restaurant, which wasn’t selected at random. Across Miodowa St. there used to located Chopin’s favorite music shop. The composer often visited Honoratka with his friends. It is the only restaurant remembering the days of Chopin that has been operating in the same place and under the same name. Presently, the restaurant greets its guests with a fresco depicting its most famous customer.

The tour of Warsaw allowed the guests to see the city of Chopin on the big screen and in reality, and to learn for themselves that Frederic Chopin is not just a marketing tool for the Polish capital but a man deeply connected with this city. The celebration is real without advertising efforts; people can take part in different events. It’s one thing to hear about all this and quite another to experience it.

What is more important, after the celebration is over the city and Chopin fans will still be able to enjoy many new attractions that are here to stay for many years to come.

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