Gydnia Film Festival's Strong Competition Lineup 'Reflects New System of State Funding'

Polish Film Institute head Agnieszka Odorowicz credits an expert committee for backing "much better films."

GYDNIA, Poland -- The strength of the competition line up at Poland's annual national film showcase in Gydnia is a tribute to changes in how state production funds are distributed, the head of the Polish Film Institute (PISF) has claimed.

Agnieszka Odorowicz said the introduction two years ago of an expert committee of filmmakers that decides how to distribute 85 percent of an annual $40 million in grants had improved the quality of publicly funded Polish feature films.

Odorowicz, who had headed the PISF since it was established in 2005, retains control over 15 percent of production funding, which she can give to projects of her choosing.

But the lion's share of the money is channeled through a committee of six, which includes directors Pawel Pawlikowski, Filip Bajon and Urszula Antoniak.

"We're very pleased, because we can see that the films are much better than they were a few years ago. The films in competition in Gydnia this year are the first to have been completed since we introduced the new expert committee," Odorowicz tells The Hollywood Reporter.

"I wanted to change the decision-making system and to educate the film industry, to show that it is very difficult to make a decision. If you have 50 projects and money only for 10, you must choose. That is a very difficult process."

Under the previous system, she had been seen as a "bad cop," Odorowicz states.

"I always wanted to be the good cop. Now they [on the expert committee] are the bad cops. I can be the good cop," she adds.

Polish films are beginning to travel internationally more often, Odorowicz said, noting the recent Montreal Film Festival win for Life Feels Good by Maciej Pieprzyca.

But more still needed to be done to improve weaknesses in scriptwriting and project-pitching skills, both of which would be priority areas for PISF initiatives in the coming years, she added.

The 38th Gydnia Film Festival wraps Saturday, when the best Polish film of the year from a competition lineup of 14 will be announced.