Polish Filmmakers Concerned About New Head of Film-Financing Organization

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The firing of his predecessor was criticized by major international figures, including Wim Wenders and Agnieszka Holland.

The Polish film community is concerned about the appointment of Rados?aw Smigulski as head of the Polish Film Institute (PISF), the country's film funding institution.

Virtually unknown to most in the most film community, Smigulski's appointment came as a surprise when he beat the institute's own deputy director Izabela Kiszka-Hoflik by one vote.

"[Smigulski] is a very government man," a source in the Polish film industry tells The Hollywood Reporter, implying that the new PISF head may favor funding for ideologically correct films.

A lawyer by training, Smigulski has a long involvement in politics and is understood to have been the culture minister's favorite candidate to head the film institute.

But his background in film is scanty, columnist Janusz Wroblewski, who covers the film industry for Polish daily Polityka, says.

"Little is known about his taste," Wroblewski says. "As a manager, he is rather weak."

Smigulski produced what Wroblewski calls "one of the worst films of the last decade" Kak Wawa, a 2012 wedding farce featuring wild parties and male strippers.

He also is named as a co-producer of Jerzy Skolimowski's Essential Killing, but that is because he was CEO of a small distribution company at the time that had some involvement in distributing the film.

"Nobody knows what Smigulski's rule at the PISF will look like," Wroblewski adds. "He has received huge power."

If, as a director who is permitted to take decisions without consultations, Smigulski uses that power ideologically, the future looks grim, the columnist adds.

The dismissal of previous PISF head, Magdalena Sroka, in early October caused an international outcry.

Back then, more than 600 filmmakers, including Wim Wenders and Agnieszka Holland, signed a letter to Poland's culture minister criticizing the dismissal of Sroka.