In the feature documentary, PIANOFORTE director Jakub Piątek takes a deep dive into what is considered to be one of the most prestigious competitions in classical music, the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. Held every five years since 1927, the event has been a career launchpad for such piano virtuosos as Krystian Zimerman, Mitsuko Uchida, Kevin Kenner, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. The competition itself is a real roller coaster of a classical ride, with extremely tough qualifying rules, multiple stages, legendary jurors (Arthur Rubinstein), and a whole lot of pressure. Jakub Piątek’s fly-on-the-philharmonic-wall documentary takes us behind the scenes of this fascinating contest. We meet some of the most talented young professional piano players from all over the world and watch them navigate this fever dream of a competition, along with its intense practices, new friendships, lots of drama, and even more nerves. “Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!” said Chopin. Pianoforte is a testament to the power of remarkable music. Nearly two centuries later, it still inspires, excites, and, yes, causes some despair and suffering, too. Director Jakub Piątek (Prime Time, 2021) stops by to talk about the intensity and commitment each of the pianist brings to their craft, how he landed on following the wide variety musicians in the film and capturing the euphoria of an artist and music transcending the notes on a page.
Nominated, Grand Jury Prize / World Cinema – 2023 Sundance Film Festival
About the filmmaker – Born in 1985, Jakub Piątek graduated from the Polish National Film School in Łódź. Before studying directing, he worked as a journalist and culture manager. In 2021, his feature fiction debut, Prime Time, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and it is available on Netflix in all regions. In 2021, he started teaching fiction directing at the Polish National Film School.