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avatar for Hanna Polak

Hanna Polak

Hanna Polak Films
Warsaw, Poland
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Hanna Polak graduated with the Master Degree from the Cinematography division of the Cinematography Institute of the Russian Federation (VGIK), in Moscow.

In 2003, she was awarded Best Producer of Documentary Movies at the International Film Festival in Krakow for Railway Station Ballad.

In 2004 Hanna completed her documentary film, The Children of Leningradsky, which was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Short Documentary subject. It also received the Best Documentary Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association and it was nominated for an Emmy Award in two categories:  Best Documentary and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Editing. This film was also nominated to be a Notable Video by the Adult American Library Association, and it has received the Gracie Allen Award, given by the American Women in Radio & Television, amongst many other awards.

Hanna's additional works include, Al - Tribute to Albert Maysles; Faces of Homelessness; Battle of Warsaw 1920 in 3D, and many others. She directed and produced Love and Rubbish, for the Why Poverty? series in 2012, which won A Corto di Donne Women’s Short Film Festival.

Recently Hanna has completed her documentary film Something Better to Come, which received the IDFA Special Jury Award, and won main prizes at several film festivals, including Munich Film Festival, Documentary Edge Festival, Docs Against Gravity, ArtDoc Fest in Moscow, Trieste Film Festival, EuroDok Film Festival and won other film festivals and awards. Polak’s works as a producer, director, and cinematographer have appeared on major television networks worldwide including American HBO, ABC, Canal+, France-2, Fuji, ITN, TVP, TVN, Belgian Radio and TV, and many other TV stations. Her films have been screened in hundreds film festivals around the world, including Sundance, IDFA, Hot Springs, True/False, and FIPA.

In 2006, Polak’s photography works won her third prize in the UNICEF International Photography Competition Photo of the Year. For her cinematography work for Stone Silence, shot in Afghanistan, she was awarded with the Artistic Mastery of Photographing award from the Kiev Film Festival. For her cinematography work for Something Better to Come, she was awarded with the Best Cinematography award from Gdańsk DocFilm Festival and with Canon Non Fiction Frame Special Mention from Docs Against Gravity film festival.

Hanna has collaborated with different aid agencies to help unprivileged children.  For her charitable efforts, Polak was awarded the prestigious Golden Heart Award, the “Award for serving the uppermost ideals of mankind” by Russian NTV Television, and the Crystal Mirror award by the Mirror magazine in Poland, an award that recognizes “people of dialogue, those who unite, not divide.”

She has lectured on documentary filmmaking at many universities worldwide (including UNC School of Public Health, North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Guadalajara, Mexico; North Texas University; Monterey Institute of International Studies, California; Middlebury College, Vermont; University of Hawaii, Honolulu, and many others).

Hanna was a jury member at the Documentary Film Festival in Krakow and the Human Rights Film International Film Festival in Glasgow, Scotland; she was a tutor for the EsoDoc workshop; and she was an expert for the Polish Ministry of Culture, evaluating documentary projects for the Polish Film Institute.


Hanna Polak, an Oscar-nominated director, graduated from the cinematography eivision of the Cinematography Institute of the Russian Federation. She has worked on various movies as producer, director, cinematographer, and still photographer. In 2002, she was awarded Best Producer of Documentary and Short Fiction Movies in Poland for Railway Station Ballad. In 2004 she completed work on The Children of Leningradsky in collaboration with HBO. The movie received an Oscar nomination (2005), an IDA Award, two Emmy nominations, and the Gracie Allen Award, among others. Hanna has been advocating the case of homeless children all over the world. She founded and collaborated with Active Child Aid foundation and collaborates with UNICEF.

Filmography (selected titles)

The Officer’s Wife (2010) - cinematographer

Warsaw Battle 1920 in 3D (2010) - cinematographer and director

Faces of Homelessness (2010) - cinematographer and director

Kamienna Cisza (2007) - cinematographer

The Children of Leningradsky (2005) - cinematographer, producer and director

Al. Tribute to Albert Maysles (2004) - dinematographer, producer and director

Dworcowa ballade (2003) - cinematographer and producer


My Speakers Sessions

Thursday, October 8

21:00 CEST

Friday, October 9

10:30 CEST