Among all the cities in Poland, Lodz is considered to be the one mostly connected to the art of film. Apart from the textiles industry and factories, the city has become famous thanks to the oldest and the best film school in the whole country. The Film School was founded in 1948 and ten years later it united with the Acting School simultaneously creating the National Film, Television and Theatre School. It made Lodz a center of the film and artistic life. Everyone wanted to study there.
The Film Museum in Lodz is the only institution of its kind in Poland, focusing on the film culture, art and technique. The Museum was founded in 1976, but it has been operating under the official name since 1986. The main building of the Museum is a palace that used to belong to the factory owner Karol Scheibler. The space was renovated and adapted for the exhibition purposes. There is also a working cinema. The activity of the Museum can be divided into three sections: exhibitions, events and the festival of the documentary films „Men in Danger” that takes place annually.
The main exhibitions are set in the Palace building. The first one includes the history of the film editing presented through its technical development. The display is prepared in a way so everyone could feel a little bit like an editor. Theoretical information is shred around the exhibition space and different technical inventions complement the knowledge. Each guest can watch „A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès and even attend special lectures that could explain the basics in an easy way.
There is also an exhibition called „The Secrets of Film” referring to the two intriguing issues: the mystery of how the film set works and the miracle of the moving image. The first part focuses on technical development starting from the very early, now nearly prehistoric attempts to make the photographs move till modern days. It gathers the inventions of the pioneers, including the Polish inventor Kazimierz Proszynski who created the first camera called „the eye”. Among the presented novelties there is a modern type of a blue box. There is also a whole section devoted to the famous magic lanterns (laterna magica) from the 19th and 20th century that served to project single images.
We particularly love their multimedia display introducing the visitors to the world of the silent cinema, the first films by Lumiere brothers and the still (!) very much working projector of the famous group Pathe from the beginning of the 20th Century. One of the most interesting „secrets” is a display of fotoplastikon, equal to cinematograph. The exhibition gives an opportunity to actually look inside such inventions.
There are also some surprises for children. On the top floor there is an animation kingdom. The display connects all main characters from the favorite Polish classic animated films. The space is adapted so each character has its own little room there, e.g. a famous dog Reksio has his own massive hut, where children could watch the films together with him. The exhibition combines screenings with interactive entertainment for the little ones.
Apart from exhibitions, the Museum is actively working in the cultural sector. It organizes events such as screenings and Q&A with established and emerging film directors, actors or cinematographers; art exhibitions, film history lectures for everyone, special screenings for children and even special screenings for dogs, when pets are allowed into the screening room with their owners.
Without a doubt the most important event that is annually taking place in the museum is a Media Festival „Man in Danger” focused on documentary films. The Festival has a long history connected to the city of Lodz and to the Museum. It also offers a unique chance to watch the festival selection for free.
Jakub Wiewiórski, the director of the Festival, shared with us the festival's history and mission.
"The beginning of the Media Festival „Man in Danger” reaches back to 1990 - the Festival is nearly as old as indepedent Poland. Simultaneously it’s also one of the oldest documentary film festivals in the country. Apart from the casual screenings, it has a competition part. Artists can submit documentary films of any form or length, as long as they were produced the same year or one year before the edition of the festival they are submitting to."
Wiewiórski continues: "The Film Museum has become the host of the festival at it’s 10th edition, since 2000. The main mission of the festival „Man in Danger” is to present the best Polish documentaries focused on the dangers that contemporary world needs to face. There is also a very careful selection of the documentary classics from Poland and abroad. The integral part of the festival are the meetings with the filmmakers. The directors always meet with the audience and answer their questions after screenings. The filmmakers whose films are qualified for the competition are competing for the White Cobra and some significant financial prizes. The jury usually consists of the renowned fellow filmmakers."
"Through the years, the topics of the films screened at the festival have been changing along with the dangers standing in front of the modern man. The „traditional”, timeless problems such as alcoholism, anger, drugs have been joined by the new ones: workaholism, weakness of the social bonds, fear of the otherness, arguments about the history."
"Along with those there is also sickness of the current public debate, which is…the lack of it. The lack of openness on the counter arguments, which leads to people locking themselves in the glass bubble of the news, filtered and intensified by the social media. Thanks to the festival and the activities that go along with it, we urge the audience to have self-reflection."
"Our mission is to present the modern „Promised Lands” trying to touch on each of the aspects: economically, ideologically and psychologically. We want to popularize the idea of multi-cultures, tolerance and the understanding for the different ethnic, religious groups or simply for people with the different opinions."
"The documentary filmmakers treat this festival as their special celebration. Though, beside the directors the audience is the essence of this event. In my opinion the greatest power of the festival „Man in Danger” is its relaxed atmosphere that favors the great discussions and exchange of opinions."