The VGIK International Student Festival has been held since the 1980s by the world’s oldest film school. This year’s edition took place on 15–19 November.
The jurors awarded two Polish short films, both made by graduates of the Film School in Łódź.
The award-winning I’m Here by Julia Orlik was named best animation. The film tells the story an elderly man who is looking after his paralysed wife. Despite his old age and own health issues, he tries his best to alleviate her suffering, which is getting more severe every day. He is aided by his daughter, who tries to reconcile the care given to her mother with her own work at the hospital and her personal life. Each of them has different views on how the woman should be looked after, which leads to many arguments.
A special mention went to Nastazja Gonera for her graduation film. First Last Summer is set in a secret military centre, somewhere by the Polish sea, where a strange experiment is carried out – a group of scientists and military men transform repeating offenders into animals. The experiment is overseen by Gaia, a scientist and veterinarian of the future. She carefully picks convicts to the needs of nature, looks after the animals, and decides when they can be released into the wild to fulfil their role as revivalists of the species. It’s difficult, demanding work – also in terms of morality. She is aided, to the best of their ability, by her children – young Bebe and teenager Janek. At least until U is also brought to the centre in a newly arrived transport of convicts among murderers and rapists. The young girl immediately attracts Janek’s attention. She didn’t end up here by accident. It isn’t innocents who are sent to save the dying nature, but Janek is hell bent on helping her get out of this place. However, this means opposing his own family and a cause that is many times greater than himself. But it’s a beautiful summer, and the feeling that connects these two – a convict and a prison helper – could certainly have a future. If only it wasn’t the first summer of the end of the world… Whose lives would we be ready to sacrifice if nature had given us such a bill?
You can read more about the festival here.