The first edition of the Festival was held in 1990 – following an intense period immediately after the first free elections in Poland.
Kazimierz Sobotka, a later director of The European Institute in Łódź, wrote: “Diversity of problems, the need to take comprehensive steps, as well as the wide range of threats and media and institutions that deal with them, lead to the requirement to coordinate activities or at least to ensure time and venue for general reflection, getting to know people and their actions. An annual Media Festival “Man in Danger” could provide such space since its very existence would inspire to focus on such topics”.
The festival name was invented by Marek Miller – a journalist and sociologist who is today involved with Laboratorium Reportażu (Reportage Laboratory) in Warsaw.
A seminar accompanying the 1st Media Festival was titled: “Man in Danger and Mass Media”. Tadeusz Sobolewski reminded that “the truth that man lives in constant danger becomes valuable only when it mobilises, speaks through art – serves as a moral, artistic or even political provocation”.
The first 10 editions of the festival (1990-98) were held in the Łódź Cultural Centre. Following the death of Władysław Wasilewski – the first festival director, the event was suspended for one year. Since 2000 the Film Museum has been the organiser of the festival and since 2014 the Museum director, Mieczysław Kuźnicki, has been the festival director.
The National Centre for Culture became a special partner and friend of the 20th edition of the festival devoted to Kazimierz Karabasz. The Centre founds The Patient Eye Award, highly valued by artists and granted for patient, careful observation of reality. Another precious award is The Award of the Polish Filmmakers Association which can be given to young artists as well as documentary honorable seniors. For many years The Monumentum Iudaicum Lodzense Foundation has also founded an award for a film concentrated on Jewish subject matters. A special award category has been established to honour a director or a film protagonist. This is a “bravery” award named after Aleksander Kamiński, founded by his students, about which we are every year reminded by one of them – Janina Tobera PhD.
Programme materials of the 1st Media Festival contain a rhetorical question asked by Marek Miller: “if danger is the basic human experience shall it not become the main challenge facing man as well?”. Not much has changed over the past 25 years. There are even more dangers. In order to learn about them we ask an important, in our view, personal and provoking question: “What are you afraid of?”
We try to change our festival into a forum for discussing current problems. We show films about integration and conflicts, complexity of problems resulting from co-existence. These films, through their content and form, promote discussion, tackle stereotypes, black and white perception of the world and encourage us to think and open to “the other”. The documentaries make us realise that the global multiculturalism is a living tissue within which nothing is defined once and for all. They encourage us to try to understand and reach a compromise, to try to overcome prejudice, ignorance and simple indifference. We want to show contemporary Promise Lands in a wide economic, ideological and psychological aspect.