Master filmmakers and children’s perspectives
by Dorota Hartwich
28/05/2010 - Although the 35th Gdynia Polish Film Festival (see news) is full of films by young directors (see news), the official competition also includes a host of new titles by renowned directors.
Among those attracting the most attention are the latest features by Feliks Falk and Jan Jakub Kolski. The two directors have set their films during the Second World War.
Falk’s Joanna [trailer] is based on a screenplay which was, the director revealed at the press conference, written on the fly and spontaneously, at the request of Michał Kwieciński of Akson Studio (producer of the film). The latter was planning a series of television productions about Polish people who saved Jews during the war.
Falk said: "There is perhaps something metaphysical about the fact that this hastily-written screenplay didn’t need major corrections or changes afterwards, but was produced as it was".
The title character, Joanna (Urszula Grabowska), is a pianist who hides a little Jewish girl in her home and, in order to protect her, makes friends with a German officer. The strength of this personal story, told with great subtlety, probably lies in its authenticity, for Falk drew inspiration from the real-life experiences of a Jewish girl from Krakow.
Kolski’s Venice [trailer] transports us to the land of dreams confronted with the reality of war. Adapted from Włodzimierz Odojewski’s prose works, this story also focuses the audience’s attention on a child’s experiences. Twelve-year-old Marek (Marcin Walewski) feels great disappointment when he can’t go to Venice as promised for his first big trip away with his parents, as the outbreak of war gets in the way.
Marek flees with his mother to the provinces, to an old house, where he reconstructs the Venice of his dreams in a flooded cellar. The highly intimate images by Artur Reinhart (expert in the art of filming children and well-known for his collaboration with Kędzierzawska), as well as the sensitivity and sense of poetry in the direction make this a film that confirms Kolski’s well-established position as a master of Polish "magic realism".
The world seen through children’s eyes is a speciality of Dorota Kędzierzawska (Nothing, I Am) who unveiled Tomorrow Will Be Better at Gdynia. The film centres on some homeless Russian boys who are trying to cross the wild borders and find happiness in Poland.
Lensed by DoP Reinhart and produced by , the feature received backing from the Polish Film Institute and was co-produced by Pioniwa Film, The Chimney Pot, Non Stop Films services and Film Illumination.
(Translated from French)