FNE Q&A with Joanna Szymanska: Deputy Chair of EFA and Cofounder of Film Production Company Shipsboy


    WARSAW: After the recent Polish elections, Polish filmmakers are hoping to see Polish film open up once again to greater participation in international and pan-European organisations. FNE speaks to Joanna Szymanska, one of the leading figures in Polish film, who is working at pan-European level to see greater inclusion and cultural diversity in filmmaking.

    Joanna Szymanska, photo by Maciej SkwaraFNE: You’ve just been elected deputy director of the European Film Academy (EFA) along with Romanian producer Ada Solomon. What do you see as the main task ahead for EFA?

    Joanna Szymanska: In the last six years I have been on the EFA Board representing Central and Eastern Europe, and I am happy to see that we are opening to more diversity in our organisation. These last elections were the first ones according to the new election rules EFA has implemented. There are now 15 regions represented in EFA Board, making it more relatable to members from all our partnering countries.

    I see EFA as a community of European filmmakers, not just as an organisation that has an awards ceremony. Our goal is to engage European audiences on every level – with activities like European Film Club and Month of European Film we want to create a reality in which European cinema can thrive. Moving the EFA Award ceremony to January (starting from 2026) will also give more visibility to European talent during the awards season.

    FNE: Poland has been perhaps less active over the past few years in international organisations. What is the importance for you as a Polish producer of international cooperation and coproductions?

    Joanna Szymanska: Cooperation and coproduction are the cornerstones, or should be, of our activities if we want to make works of relevance for international audiences. I am convinced that there is strength in working closely with our European partners, across the whole continent. Building local alliances makes us much stronger in the context of the globalised entertainment economy.

    EFA gives its members access to 40+ best European films annually and, just by watching them, I can say that there is plenty of amazing European filmmaking talent. I strongly believe that the uniqueness of European creative voices should be something we build our strength upon. It takes a certain kind of European heritage and sensibility to be able to tell stories like Anatomy of a Fall directed by Justine Triet and The Zone of Interest directed by Jonathan Glazer (a UK/USA/Poland coproduction, produced by A24 and coproduced by Extreme Emotions, Film Four, House Productions).

    What we should still be working on is a better balance of artistry and industry in European film. To our filmmakers I would like to say: believe in yourselves and the stories you want to tell and to policy makers: trust and support independent producers. If we do not cooperate as a European industry on local and international levels, we will soon fade out.

    CV: Joanna Szymanska is an independent producer with 15+ years of experience. She is currently completing her PhD at Lodz Film School on changing financial models in the European film market from the perspective of an independent film producer. She teaches film studies at Lodz Film School and University of Gdansk.

    Shipsboy: www.shipsboy.com

    Shipsboy is a Polish production company founded in 2013, run by producers Joanna Szymanska and Krystyna Kantor. They produce feature films and serialised content for all kinds of distribution platforms.

    We encourage a new generation of diverse filmmaking talents and focus on films that deeply resonate with the audience, leaving them inspired to see the world from a new perspective”, says Szymanska.

    Shipsboy is currently working on several projects including: Kilwater, a coproduction series in development, recently pitched at TV Drama Vision (part of the Gothenburg Film Festival); Sara’s Bungalow, a debut feature from director Julia Rogowska, based on the award-winning script by Malgorzata Piłacińska; and Detective Bruno. The Baltic Gold, a sequel to the successful family comedy from 2022.