A very sad bit of news as the Toronto Film Festival draws to a close. Marcin Wrona, the director of the Polish horror film Demon that made its World Premiere in the World Cinema competition at the Toronto Film Festival last week, was found dead in a hotel room in Poland on Friday night. This comes from a family friend, publicist Jim Dobson. Wrona was preparing for the Polish premiere of the film at the Gdynia Film Festival. The film was also slated to premiere at the upcoming Fantastic Fest in Austin and the Sitges Film Festival, as well as theatrical release in Poland in October. Reports say that his death was also announced at the Gydynia Film Festival.
The Toronto fest has released the following statement: “We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news of the sudden death of Marcin Wrona. His film Demon truly marked the emergence of a strong new voice on the world cinema stage. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family, especially his wife and producing partner, Olga Szymanska, who was with him at the premiere in Toronto.”
The final fest screening of Demon is scheduled for tonight, during which the TIFF will pay tribute to the director.
Wrona, who was born in the city of Tarnów in southern Poland in 1973, and was considered to be one of the brightest talents of his generation in the Polish film industry. Demon, Wrona’s third film, is described as an unconventional approach to Poland coming to terms with the Holocaust. The thriller hinges on a dybbuk, the spirit of a dead person who according to Jewish mythology haunts the living. The director had just returned to Poland following the film’s success as the Toronto Film Festival. His newlywed wife Olga Szymanska was also producer on the film Demon. They had just signed with ICM Partners to sell the film and to break into the U.S. market with future films.
Polish police are currently investigating the death and no further information is available about his passing.
Wrona’s short student film Magnet Man won Best Student Film Award at the Tribeca Film Festival 2002. His first feature was 2009’s My Flesh My Blood (Tamagotchi), which premiered at the 2009 Rome Film Festival. It won the Journalist’s Award and The Best Script Award at the Polish Debuts Film Festival 2009 and the Grand Prix of the Polish Edition Hartley-Merrill Award in 2007 and the Third Prize of Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Award in 2007 Cannes. His second film was 2010’s The Christening. It won several fest awards that included The Silver Lion for the best film, the Best Actor Award and award for the Best Editing at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia in 2010. He also directed such TV dramas as The Morality of Mrs. Dulska.