Polish short film wins top prize at Cork Film Festival

Horse Riders tells the story of an annual Easter horse pilgrimage in southern Poland

A promotional shot from Horse Riders by Anna Gawlita, which was last night announced as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival.

A promotional shot from Horse Riders by Anna Gawlita, which was last night announced as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival.

 

A short film exploring a Polish tradition where pilgrims on horseback ask God for a good crop and protection from natural disasters has scooped the top prize at this year’s Cork Film Festival.

Horse Riders by Anna Gawlita was last night announced as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival which qualifies the film for the Academy Awards Long List.

Cork Film Festival Director and CEO Fiona Clark said that the festival was delighted to announce that Ms Gawlita’s 20 minute black and white documentary had won the award.

“It is an exceptional documentary short and one that is thoroughly deserving of being long-listed for an Oscar, telling the story of an annual horse pilgrimage in a Polish village, an old regional tradition being kept alive in southern Poland. ”

According to film critic, Daniel Stopa, the short is full of witty and eye-catching observations about the nature of the sacred and the profane as they manifest themselves in the ancient tradition of the horse pilgrimage.

“Krzyoki, as we read in the closing credits, is a regional tradition, probably of the pagan origin, kept alive in the southern Poland where each Easter Sunday a horse pilgrimage sets off from a church in the village of Sternalice near Opole.

“The pilgrims ask for good crops and protection from natural disasters and the film can be read both as an ethnographical impression depicting an important period for the villagers and as a film exposing a man, faith and church.”

Among the other winners at this year’s festival was Tristan Heanue’s Ciúnas (Silence), which tells the story of a couple who embark on a journey in the midst of a family crisis and won the Grand Prix Irish Short Award.

Meanwhile the winner of the Grand Prix International Short Award was Christopher Andrews’ Stalker, which set in the Scottish Highlands and tells the story of an ageing stalker as he goes up against a young poacher.

The Audience Award went to the Irish comedy drama The Last Right, written and directed by Aoife Crehan and starring Dutch actor Michael Huisman and Irish actor Niamh Algar, which had its world premiere at the Cork Film Festival.

Ms Fiona Clark said over 300 films from over 60 countries had been shown during the 11 day long festival with over 20,000 people attending the screenings to make for yet another successful festival.

“And the Cork Film Festival’s awards demonstrate our commitment to presenting and celebrating excellence in filmmaking, championing new and emerging voices, as well as established filmmakers,” she said.

“The Festival embraces features and short film, and as a growing destination for feature documentaries as well as narrative work, we pride ourselves as the platform to showcase the very best of Irish and international film in Ireland.

“Our Awards Ceremony honours the diverse talent presented during the 64th Cork Film Festival and this year’s winning films exemplify the quality and diversity we have showcased during our eleven days of screenings.”