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Location: Congress Hall - Warsaw (POL), Centrum Konferencyjne WP, Zwirki i Wigury 9/13, 00-909 Warszawa
Date: Tuesday, August 19th 2003 - 9 a.m.

Warsaw Again!

Portrait of Max Hansli.Dear UNICA film friends.

It really feels to me as if the UNICA 1997 Congress was just yesterday or the day before. Now the event is taking place in Poland again. I would like to take this opportunity to express thanks on behalf of UNICA to all the organisers and those co-operating with them in the enormous task they have taken on.

Certainly everyone who took part in the 1997 event has fond memories of the cultural programme. Think, for example, of the extraordinary Congress opening ceremony in a Theatre or the unforgettable performance of a remarkable artist playing a grand piano on an island in a park. We rarely get to see or hear such memorable presentations.

All of us intending to participate this year hope that the organisers will have similar treats in store. I am sure that they will have planned to make a strong impression on us again and to remind us that Poland stands very high on the list of countries offering first-rate cultural activities. I express these thanks in anticipation because I am convinced that Warsaw will spare no effort to present itself in a most favourable light!

The prevailing economic difficulties in many countries impact on potential UNICA participants, but, all the same, we trust many UNICA friends will find their way to Warsaw for the UNICA 2003 CONGRESS IN POLAND!

I therefore hope that I will have the pleasure of meeting you in Warsaw at this international summit meeting of non-professional film making.

Sincerely yours

Max Hänsli, UNICA President

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Portrait of Franz Rienesl.The great majority of films are made, not for the promotion of film art, but just to make a profit. Only some outsiders - such as amateur film-makers - make films for other reasons. Ambitious film critics are prone to designating their works as film analysis, though they generally forget to provide background information - to themselves or to their readership - about the analytical method applied.

How should a film critic behave when he/she is a non professional and assumes this task as a member of a film jury? The quality of all films varies widely whether they are professional or non-professional.

When it come to evaluating films, the arguments should not be restricted to focussing on a set of details appealing to (or repulsive to) the critic's personal taste. A film, be it as work of art or not, should not be submitted to an appraisal based exclusively on matters of individual taste!

Film criticism is not the same when applied to regular films as when applied to non-professional works. The film critic, in the latter case, has a duty to identify social references which are very often hard to make out. It will also be his/her task to compare the virtual world depicted with social realities. What message does the film convey and to what extent does the film exert an influence on the spectator? The film critic should be able, whenever necessary, to unveil hidden philosophies and social representations and therefore reduce the impact of those influences.

In the case of films that are not produced as commercial items, the critic (member of the jury) should not satisfied with just a sociological analysis, but should also be prepared to evaluate the work from the aesthetic point of view.

He/she should then proceed on the basis of relevant categories, e.g. genre, themes, film codes.

The film code is composed of

1. The semantics of the film

This expression refers to the description of the set of signs used in the film.

a) The elements changing the meaning of the film.

Each and every film is co-determined by a set of signs and spectators are hardly aware of their existence. We refer here to elements which neither carry any meaning in themselves nor contribute to the construction of meaning; they do not have a content in themselves.

b) the meaningful components of the film.

Four systems of signs are necessary to give meaning to a film and produce a consistent work:

2. The syntax of the film

a) Shots

The first step of the assessment process is examining the information contained in the frames themselves (scenery, decor, lighting, dramatic art, camera, format). In the second step, the critic will try to capture the information carried by the language of shots. The first step will aim at assessing separately the content of the music and sound effects.

The meaning of a shot will be generated only as a convergence of all three above elements. At the same time, we should have bear in mind that each element carries its own information.

b) Editing

Editing is the next stage of the analytical process, including the assessment of all the associated rhythms.

During editing, the individual shots are arranged in a specific sequence and generate what we call syntagms. The shots thus gain meaning and the total is somewhat higher than the sum of the individual parts.

The film critic (or member of the jury) should take all this into account before drawing any conclusions. It is surely no easy task for a critic with a sense of responsibility.

Judgements have some value only when they approve. Any negative, disapproving judgement, however correct it may be as an observation, become false as soon as it has been expressed. Pointing out "faults", even if enunciated with refinement and wit, is not a judgement, but just chit-chat. - Hermann Hesse

Franz Rienesl (AUT) - UNICA Advisor and vice-president of the Austrian Federation VÖFA

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The following observations are based on long-standing experience acquired with UNICA-Jury members and thorough discussion of the issue. These conditions represent important guidelines for the procedure to be applied for film evaluation, in particular during the public debating sessions and the final discussion with the full jury panel during which medals and special prizes are awarded by a vote of the members of the jury.

This set of conditions should be regarded as being picky with the members of the jury, but rather the result of observations that have shown in the course of years that the national federations should inform the candidates - before appointing them - about some conditions that they will have to fulfil.

The jury member should be in a position to fulfil the following conditions:

Considering that the first evaluation process takes places in the form of a discussion of the jury after the projection of each set of films (usually before the lunch break and after the afternoon and evening projection), it should not regarded as a final evaluation but rather as an opportunity for the spectators and authors to hear what kind of opinions have developed among the jury members and these opinions are just for information.

Though jury members are appointed by a national federation, they do not represent their respective countries, which means that they should also assess the works produced in their home country with the same sense of neutrality.

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It lies in the centre of the country on the Mazovian lowland. it straddles the Vistula river, occupies 191 square miles (495 km2) and has a population of over 1 600 000.

Warsaw is Poland's largest scientific and cultural centre. The Polish Academy of Sciences and many scientific institutes have their seats in Warsaw, as do colleges of which the oldest is Warsaw University while the largest is the Technical University of Warsaw. An important role in the life of the city is served by such cultural establishments as the National Philharmonic, theatres, libraries, art galleries and museums. Among them are the Museum of the Archdiocese of Warsaw with its collection of European painting and the National Museum which is the largest and has on display permanent exhibitions of Polish painting, the frescoes of Faras.

Warsaw, also hosts cultural events of international renown such as the Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition, the "Warsaw Autumn" International Festival of Contemporary Music, and "Jazz Jamboree".


Legends speak of Warsaw's past. One tells of a mermaid - half woman, half fish - swimming in the waves of the blue Vistula in front of Mazovian fishermen and foretelling the founding of an indestructible city.

The exact age of Warsaw is not known; no establishing document nor municipal charter has survived. The rulers of Mazovia moved to the high river bank, where the Royal Castle stands today, after the year 1281. A city grew alongside the duke's residence. Its location is defined by the limits of the Old Town.

There are around a thousand historical monuments in the capital, and Lazienki, Wilanów; and the Old Town are of the highest world class.

A walk down the Trakt Królewski (Royal Route), leading from the Old Town in the direction of Wilanów the residence of King Jan III Sobieski, is very highly recommended. It begins in the Old Town. Tourists come here to gaze at the beautiful Gothic churches, the defensive walls, and the fairytale facades of the Renaissance and Baroque tenement houses. It is a real shame that this, Warsaw's magnificent historical document, was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis, but it is a great thing that, after the war, the Old Town complex was painstakingly reconstructed. The Old Town is a clear sign of the patriotism of Warsawites.

The Royal Castle is a symbol of Polish Statehood. It is an early-baroque structure with Gothic fragments and a rococo façade from the riverside. It was the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia during the Middle Ages and became the official royal residence after the capital was transferred from Cracow around the end of the 16th century. It was also in its walls that the May 3rd Constitution was ratified - an extremely modern legal act at that time. The President of Poland resided in the castle during the period between the two world wars. This building, important to several generations of Poles, was first burned down by the Nazis during September of 1939, it was next plundered of its works of art, and finally demolished at the end of 1944. The castle was rebuilt thanks to funding from the Polish public and expatriate community.

The city's oldest monument (1644) - the column of King Zygmunt III Waza - stands in front of the castle. After surviving for three hundred years it was destroyed by the occupying powers. The column was restored to its place in 1949. It was also during this period that the first post-war transport artery was completed, the Trasa W-Z (the East West Route).

Walk One

The Royal Route starts on Castle Square. To the left is the academic church of St. Anne (its oldest part dates from the 15th century). Next to it is the building in which Maria Sklodowska-Curie carried out her first experiments in physics. Farther down is the Dom Polonii (Polish Expatriate Home), while across from it is where the creator of Polish national opera, Stanislaw Moniuszko, lived. Somewhat farther on lived Wladyslaw Reymont, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature; Tadeusz Sygietynski, creator of the "Mazowsze" Song and Dance Company, also lived there after the war. A beautiful, fenced-off square is embellished by the Adam Mickiewicz Monument.

The bard's gaze is turned towards Pilsudski Sq. and the Saxon Garden. The Nazis demolished the grand Saxon palace, only the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier survived. Urns with earth from battlefields marked by Polish blood were laid there following World War II so was earth from the graves of Polish officers murdered in Katyn. A ceremonial changing of the guard takes place in front of the Tomb every Sunday at noon.

The "Victoria" Hotel is located on Pilsudski Sq., as is "Zacheta", an art gallery, across from it. To the north is the neo-classical mass of the National Theatre (built 1825-1833). Tickets for shows also open the doors of the Museum of the Theatre which, among other things, contains mementoes of Helena Modrzejewska.

The Kazimierzowski Palace - now housing the Rector's Offices of the University of Warsaw which was founded in 1816 - was once the seat of the famous School of Knighthood attended by Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

A monument commemorating Nicolaus Copernicus looks kindly on passers-by on

Krakowskie Przedmiescie. This status, the work of Thorwaldsen, was taken by the Germans after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, but has now returned to its position in front of the Staszic Palace, the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

At the end of Al. Ujazdowskie, on the left, are the Botanical Gardens which occupy an area of only eleven acres (4,5 ha). Much larger gardens were established outside Warsaw some years ago. The entrance to the Gardens is marked by the domed roofs of the Astronomical Observatory.

Next to the Botanical Gardens are Lazienki, one of the largest of the palatio-park complexes. Lazienki was the summer residence of the last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. It is an example of Polish Classicism from the second half of the l8th century Conservators again restored to splendour the interiors of the Palace-on-Water, which were burnt out by the Nazi barbarians. Music lovers are also drawn to Lazienki, renowned Polish and foreign pianists give concerts at the Chopin Monument in Lazienki every Sunday from spring through autumn (weather permitting). Worthwhile shows are put on in the Theatre-on-the-Island whose stage is decorated by "ancient" Muses.

The stroll is almost at an end. Ahead is the Belweder, a neo-classical palace built during the eighteen-twenties. At one time it was the seat of the Tsar's governor, Duke Constantine. President Stanislaw Wojciechowski and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski resided here during the period between the two wars. Today it is an official state residence. In 1995 an exhibition devoted to Pilsudski was arranged in the palace.

The road goes on for several miles all the way to Wilanów - the private estate of King Jan III Sobieski - undoubtedly one of the most valuable examples of Polish Baroque. The Palace in Wilanów functions both as a museum and as a residence for the highest ranking guests of the Polish State. A walk through the beautiful park is heartily recommended, it is open until dusk. Next to the palace is the modern pavilion of the Poster Museum, the first museum of its kind in the world.

Walk Two

A walk to the Vistula river leads to Warsaw's right bank. That is where the city's largest Orthodox church, the l9th century Church of St. Mary Magdalene, is situated. Next to it are the Zoological Gardens which were founded sixty years ago and which were started with the construction of a unique pen for brown bears, built right on the sidewalk and separated from onlookers by a mere moat.

Turning back to the centre, the peak of the Palace of Culture and Science is visible even from distant districts. A drive down ul. Marszalowska leads to pl. Konstytucji (Constitution Square) with its nineteen-fifties buildings in the style of socialistic-realism. Close to the big square are also located the, "Forum", "Metropol" and "Polonia" Hotels.

Across from the Palace of Culture and Science is what is known as the Eastern Wall: a complex of department stores and high-rise apartment buildings. Behind them is the National Philharmonic Hall which was built in 1901, destroyed during the war, and subsequently rebuilt. Ever since 1927, this has been the venue for the Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition, and since 1956 home for "Warsaw Autumn".

The Jewish Theatre is located on Plac Grzybowski. Behind it is Warsaw's only preserved synagogue, rebuilt several years ago thanks to State funding.

Next to the old cemetery is the vast Military Cemetery which includes the graves of soldiers from the national insurrections, and from the years 1920 and 1939. This cemetery, also contains the graves of scouts who lost their lives during the Warsaw Uprising as well as a symbolic tomb with earth from the graves of Polish officers murdered in Katyn.

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To All National Federations Affiliated To UNICA And All UNICA Friends - Zurich, 2003-05-04

Dear film friends,

Following an invitation extended by the German Film Federation (BDFA), the UNICA Committee met in Veitshöchheim (near Würzburg DEU) from 01 to 04 May. I would like to share with you some information about the proceedings of this meeting and the decisions that were made, since they concern the life and activities of national federations, clubs and their members. We are also very pleased whenever we see that this information is later circulated via your magazines and news bulletins.

Finally, I would like to ask you to start thinking about the UNICA 2006 Congress! As you probably know, the idea is to organise it in Korea - obviously this will involve extensive preparatory work... We will keep you in the picture.

Prepared on behalf of the UNICA-Committee

- Max Hänsli, UNICA President

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