Transatlantyk on the Rocks

In his July 4 article for Dziennik Łódzki, Łukasz Kaczyński provided a highly critical review of the 2016 Transatlantyk Festival, which recently moved to Łódź together with its founder, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek.  Entitled “Wielka łódź na jałowym biegu” [The great boat on a course to nowhere], the article discusses how the Festival was lavishly supported by the City of Łódź to the tune of 4.5 million PLN (over 1 million dollars) as well as by such corporate giants as Polish Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG) and Skoda/VW car manufacturer. In spite of very ample financing, Transatlantyk 2016 had little to show for it—uninspiring film screenings, a few special guests (the only celebrity being the French actress, Irene Jacob), the so-called “reclining” and “culinary” film screenings, and stuntmen displays, all in front of invariably small audiences, rarely exceeding fifty. According to Mr. Kaczyński, “… Fifteen minutes before the Closing Gala, the presenter had to rub her eyes in disbelief: the theatre was practically empty and a feverish action to bring down the audience from the balcony was launched whilst ushers downstairs were sending people seated at the mezzanine to the front, as the image of empty rows of seats right in front of the stage is a proof of disastrous management. The disappointment of the President of Łódź could not be completely concealed, even if on stage she tried to show contentment and enthusiasm.”

Continuing his review, Mr. Kaczyński states that, “It remains a mystery who thought a short concert, split into two parts and featuring a pop-rock starlet, Julie Marcell, was worthy of a closing gala for an event that the city government thought could replace such festivals as CAMERIMAGE. The vocalist could be a headliner for a show in [provincial towns] like Cieszyn or Tomaszów, but not in Łódź, where she constantly appears in one of the clubs… And not at a festival which, besides a huge donation from the city budget had also such sponsors as PGNiG and Skoda. […]

In closing, the reviewer asked pointedly, “Would city government that, maybe rashly, had signed an agreement with a rather ill-formed festival for a few years, consider backing out or introducing corrective changes? Nobody wants to admit to a mistake, even if such a move would prove a degree of maturity and bring long-term gain. We certainly should ask the organizers to provide accounting and make it public for the inhabitants of Łódź, who financed the event.”