European Film Center Director on Camerimage Festival’s Future Home

The EnergaCamerimage film fest has long campaigned for a permanent complex with state-of-the-art screening technology, broadcast facilities and a year-round education role utilizing top cinematography tools with space for classes on all aspects of filmmaking for emerging directors of photography and their colleagues.

Leading the charge on launching that project is Kazik Suwala, the longtime partner of fest director Marek Zydowicz, who is coordinating a small army of organizers as they lay out plans for the European Film Center, expected to go online in 2025. This year’s commitment from the Polish government and the city of Torun to a budget of $155 million has put the project, expected to be a major media player in Poland, on the fast track.

How did the backing finally come together for this ambitious project and how will it complement the existing fest center space?

The Polish government has agreed to grant $103 million for the construction of the new European Film Center Camerimage in Torun. The city of Torun did the same, but giving half of it, meaning $51.5 million. Altogether, it allows us to start working on a new, unique building. All of the necessary documents were signed by minister of culture, Piotr Glinski, the mayor of Torun, Michal Zaleski, and the Tumult Foundation and Camerimage CEO Marek Zydowicz at the end of September 2019.

And it’s already up and running as a new venture even though it’s new home is a few years away?

The institution itself was set up in the beginning of 2020 and it has been running these past nine months. And now it is ready to start working on what it was established for. The two main goals of the institution for now are to build the center before the end of 2025 and to organize this and subsequent editions of the festival.

And it will expand the existing festival center complex with the goal of multiplying its capacity significantly?

The institution’s building will be established in Torun’s Jordanki. The facility will include a festival center with an entertainment and projection room for 1,200-1,500 viewers, a foyer, conference rooms, press service office, TV studio for broadcasting events as well as seminar and projection rooms, a film production studio, exhibition and educational spaces, dressing rooms, restaurant space and offices for cultural institutions.

In 2021 the institution will receive $8.3 million from the state treasury.

How will the design reflect the leading-edge technology always embraced by Camerimage?

We will announce the competition for the architectural concept of the building and we hope to have that this year or at the beginning of a next one.

What activities is the center now running and are there international film students already being mentored?

The first months of activity were establishing the formal side of the institution. This is a state cultural institution run under the Ministry of Culture and the City of Torun so it is a public entity that needs to follow hundreds of rules and regulations. It also needs to have a lot of internal aspects established so that when it starts to accelerate nothing will hold it back.

With state and local government involved, along with the festival’s own Tumult Foundation, is it a bit like planning the Hoover Dam to get things started?

In this sense, beginnings are always time-consuming. Recently the center staff grew bigger with a number of members of the Camerimage team and the next step is to add people involved in the construction of the building. All the main programming of the new building is to be created between 2021 and 2025. Of course in the meantime there will be smaller programs running but this is what we are working on.

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