Toruń is a city of 200 000 inhabitants and is probably mainly famous for being the birth town of Nicolaus Copernicus. Since 2003 it is also the home of a film festival called Tofifest. The idea behind it is their rebellious nature, according to festival director Kafka Jaworska. They label themselves a “handmade” festival without red carpets and other superfluous things.
As expected, the festival has numerous sections. Firstly an international competition named On air. It houses first and second films from several directors. Among the films selected this year, one can find Beanpole by Kantemir Balagov that was one of the big hits of this year’s Cannes festival. Other films in this section include Good posture by Dolly Wells, Instinct by Halina Rejn and Retrospekt by Esther Rots.
There is also a short film competition called Shortcut. The third and final competition section is comprised of Polish films. Cinema from Quebec is the subject of this year’s Focus. The Masters’ segment is dedicated to Franco Zeffirelli. In the Must be, Must see unit one can find numerous hits from the big festivals this year, notably the first Polish screening of Roy Andersson’s About Endlessness, which grabbed the best director award at the Venice film festival.
Other films include Oliver Laxe’s marvellous Fire will come, Deerskin by Quentin Dupieux and the Berlin Golden Bear laureate Synonyms by Nadav Lapid. A relatively new addition to the program is the Rebels section that will focus on female heroes from all over the world.
If that wasn’t enough, there is a section of Baltic silent films as well, with classics such as The Phantom Carriage by Victor Sjöström, The passion of Joan of arc by Carl Th Dreyer and Häxan by Benjamin Christensen. Other events worth mentioning is a screening of the restored version of Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó and a discussion of Céline Sciamma’s smash hit, Portrait of a woman on fire.
Apart from the competition awards, there is also a prize being bestowed on people who have demonstrated “Artistic insolence” of one kind or another. It’s called The Golden Angel, and this year the laureates are Agnieszka Holland, Pawel Pawlikowski, Maja Ostaszewska and Dawid Ogrodnik.
This is just scratching the surface of the riches Tofifest has to offer. There are many reasons to visit the picturesque town of Toruń to experience this handmade festival. I, myself can’t wait to go there.