"20 days in Mariupol" opens the 26th Polish Film Academy Awards Festival

The winning film of the 23rd WATCH DOCS - "20 Days in Mariupol", "Walls", directed by Kasia Smutniak, and "In the Rearview" by Maciek Hamela, a Polish documentary on the Oscar shortlist, are just some of the titles included in the programme of the 26th Orły Festival, which begins on 8 January and lasts until 3 February at the Iluzjon cinema in Warsaw. It features nearly 80 films and over 30 Q&As with filmmakers.

The opening film of the festival traditionally doesn't take part in the competition. This time, it will be the acclaimed Ukrainian documentary on the Oscar shortlist '20 Days in Mariupol', directed by Mstislav Chernov - winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and the main competition at WATCH DOCS as well as the Pulitzer Prize in the In Public Service category. It is a harrowing account of the siege of Mariupol, made by a team of Ukrainian journalists who were trapped in the besieged city as the Russian invasion began, and continued their work documenting the war.

- "The Academy does not forget about filmmakers of Ukraine. The horrific Russian aggression continues with the world's increasing passivity. All the more so we, the film people, the media people, have an absolute duty not to let the conscience of the world, of Europe and, above all, of our country remain unmoved. Great people are dying every day, after - instead of making films - they have been fighting in the trenches in defence of their country and their loved ones. One of them is our friend Oleg Sentsov. Seriously wounded four times, he has not left his post since the first day of the war. Let's fight by their side, as they are fighting for us too," said Dariusz Jabłoński, president of the Polish Film Academy.

The festival programme will include strong Oscar candidates: 'In the Rearview" by Maciej Hamela, who accompanied Ukrainian refugees with his camera after the Russian invasion, and "Apolonia, Apolonia" by Lea Glob, the portrait of an artist who discovers her sexuality (a Grand Prix winner at the Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival). Among the films vying for the Eagles this year will be "Walls", Kasia Smutniak's directorial debut and one of the first documentaries to show the current situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, and the acclaimed film "Pianoforte" - Jakub Piątek's which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. 

The name of the Eagle 2023 Life Achievements winner will be announced on 29 February. The 26th Eagle Gala will take place on 4 March.