For the first time in its history, the Polish Film Festival will be held online and will be free to view to cinephiles across Australia. Over 30 movies feature in the Eighth Polish Film Festival Summer 2021 from 22 to 31 January.

One of the oldest film industries in Europe, Polish cinema has a heritage that dates back to 1902. In Australia, the first organized festival to celebrate Poland’s contribution to cinema was held in 2012.

This year’s festival line up features a range of genres. The highlights include a batch of films released in 2019 such as The Legions, Black Mercedes; The Messenger, and Servants of War.

The big-budget film The Legions, directed by Dariusz Gajewski features in its cast some of Poland’s leading actors. The film explores a love affair set against the backdrop of the First World War.

Black Mercedes is a crime story set in occupied Warsaw during 1941. The author of the book that inspired the film, Janusz Majewski, also directed the film.

Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s film The Messenger tells the story of war-time hero Jan Nowak-Jeziorańskiwho who is sent by the Polish government-in-exile on a secret mission with instructions for General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski who helped to organize Polish resistance.

The action movie Servants of War, directed by Mariusz Gawryś, is another film to look out for in a varied festival lineup that includes comedies, drama, romance and action films.

For the first time in its history the festival will also include films for younger audiences such as the feature-length adventure Double Trouble and the 30-minute animation Peter and the Wolf.

The festival will also include a range of documentaries and short films.

READ MORE: Film entries now open for International Pontian Film Festival

Critic, cultural sociologist, and the festival’s ambassador Dr Andrzej Fogler (Humanities) said that while the first Polish film was produced nearly 120 years ago, the industry did not really take off until 1956 when the first films of the Polish School were screened. The films drew international attention.

Other movements followed, including the Nouvelle Vague and the Cinema of Moral Unrest.

The era of Solidarity – the trade union movement that provided open resistance to the Communist Party between August 1980 and December 1981- inspired a brief period of euphoria in Polish cinema.

Free market forces have come to dominate Polish film production since the country’s emergence from the under the shadows of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991.

♦For more information on the festival visit the Eighth Polish Festival Summer 2021 website.

The quirky film Bunny. Photo: Supplied