“IDFA is to a certain extent responsible for the foundation of the Docs Against Gravity Festival,” underlines festival director Artur Liebhart. “I visited IDFA in 2002 and 2003 as a cinephile with two university degrees and a strong background in PR & marketing. After that injection of IDFA energy I decided to establish the documentary film festival in 2004 in Poland with a focus on audience building and a distribution of documentaries all year round.”
Liebhart adds how sales companies such as Films Transit helped greatly during “that heroic period,” but that IDFA remains the main hunting ground for festival programing and distribution, especially for films pitched at Forum or co-financed by the Bertha Fund that offer “an automatic stamp of quality.”
Liebhart has a long-term festival and distribution commitment to IDFA 2017 titles Golden Dawn Girls and The Long Season (both Feature-Length Comp), and A Year of Hope (Masters). For the next edition of the festival, he has selected IDFA-opener All About Amal as well as Mr Gay Syria, The Family, Queerama, The Red Soul and A Woman Captured, with many other titles under consideration and/or in negotiation.
IDFA 2016 titles performed excellently in Poland, he adds. “We premiered La Chana (Chopin Nose Award for the Best Film on Art at the festival) and Stranger in Paradise (Fiction/Non-Fiction Award, selling to three TV channels and part of the University film programme). To Stay Alive – A Method was theatrically released this fall. You don’t know how much I love you, by Pawel Lozinski, astonishingly sold 40,000 tickets. Against Gravity received the Polish Film Institute Award for the best distributor of a Polish film for both score and PR/Marketing for this film (together with Forum Film Poland for their feature Wolyn by Wojciech Smarzowski).”
In a wider doc context, Against Gravity theatrically released 8 feature documentaries in 2016/2017, garnering ticket sales of 180,000, Liebhart points out. “We also have invented a series of thematic screenings in six cities on a monthly basis. The Filmotherapy with Sens series has become particularly successful with screenings sold out a week before the date.”