The 20th edition of MDAG attracted crowds of documentary cinema fans to theaters and then online! In total, both parts of the festival - in cinemas and online - were attended by a remarkable 144,483 people! That's over six thousand more than in 2022.
Workshops, discussions, and psychological support sessions within the Safe Space, a VR section, as well as exhibitions of posters and drawings in festival cinema spaces, special screenings of 20 films for the 20th anniversary of Millennium Docs Against Gravity, new sections, and unconventional accompanying events such as dance workshops and drag shows - these are just some of the innovations presented during the 20th edition of the festival. Alongside the rich film program, these offerings attracted crowds to cinemas in eight festival cities - Warszawa, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, and Lublin.
For the fourth time, the festival took place in a hybrid format, combining 10 days of in-person screenings in theaters (from May 12th to 21st) with the online component - over 120 films were available on mdag.pl from May 23rd to June 4th. During the online part, virtual discussions and live events took place, including the Pride Month Opening as part of this year's section dedicated to queer community - We’re Here, We’re Queer, which was the most popular online event this year. TikTok, in collaboration with the festival, organized meetings with young creators on the Millennium Docs Against Gravity profile.
Artur Liebhart, the director and founder of the festival, expressed immense gratitude to the Title Sponsor of the event, Bank Millennium, which has consistently supported MDAG for 18 years, the festival cinemas, the audience, media patrons, as well as volunteers who made this grand event possible. Among the main co-financing institutions of the festival were also: the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Polish Film Institute, the Media Program of the European Union, as well as Visa and Canal+ online.
Mateusz Góra, the Head of Communications and Audience Development, highlighted the diversity of this year's festival program: "During the 20th MDAG, we presented almost 190 of the best documentary films from around the world, both short and full-length. Additionally, dozens of supplementary events took place - both in cinemas and online. Thanks to the diversity of our activities, we are able to effectively reach new groups and invite them to participate in the festival. This was the case this year with the Safe Space, which we started with the support of the Wellbee. Psychological support sessions, as well as workshops and discussions, attracted a younger audience, providing a safe and informative space for conversations about sexuality and mental health. The highly popular VR experiences exhibition offered a glimpse into the future of cinema and audiovisual arts. We are greatly pleased that the audience is returning to cinema theaters in such large numbers, supporting them after the pandemic. The attendance result of the in-person part, similar to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, is a sign that we still want to collectively experience cinematic emotions with others in the movie theater."
Cinema and online - a recipe for accessibility
The cinema part of the festival, which took place in eight cities, gathered a total of 89,223 attendees in-person. Meanwhile, the online viewership result equated to 32,506 e-tickets. Assuming that most people don't watch films alone, the online audience was actually larger. Festivals worldwide typically use a multiplier of 1.7. Ultimately, a total of 55,260 individuals participated in the online section. Altogether, 144,483 attendees took part in the 20th edition of the festival. The online component allows cinema enthusiasts from outside the festival cities and people with disabilities, for whom reaching a cinema might be difficult, to participate.
During the 20th MDAG, 22 film awards were presented, including the Grand Prix - Bank Millennium Award for the film "Apolonia, Apolonia" by Lei Glob - a 13-year-long narrative about an artist striving for success in the art world. In festival cities, local awards were given in the Main Competition: Grand Prix of Lower Silesia in Wrocław, Gdynia City President's Award, Freedom Award funded by the city of Poznań, Silesian Voivodeship Audience Award in Katowice, and Bydgoszcz Art.Doc Award.
The most highly anticipated films by the audience will be released in theaters by Against Gravity - "All This Beauty and Bloodshed" (June 16th), "After Work" (August 4th), „Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" (November 10th), and „Whale Nation" in December.
The dates for the next, 21st edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity are already known - the cinema part will take place from May 10th to 19th, while the online will run from May 21st to June 3rd, 2024.