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Grzegorz Lewandowski • Director

Hiena

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Grzegorz Lewandowski • Director

A graduate of the Radio and Television Department at the University of Katowice, 38 year-old Grzegorz Lewandowski won second prize at the Polish edition of the Hartley-Merrill International Scriptwriting Contest with Desperaci in 1999. For his first feature, Lewandowski has chosen a horror film, Hiena, showcased at the latest Venice Film Festival. Principal photography of his new film, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, is due to start in early 2008.

Cineuropa: According to critics, Hiena brought back to Poland a local horror film. To what extent is the purity of that project important to you?
Grzegorz Lewandowski : What fascinates me specifically is the possibility to go beyond genre codes. That's what I like in Jarmusch; he seems capable, in the same film, of doing a Samurai story, a black-and-white, a plot set in America and a hip-hop style. I also admire what Tarantino does in that same line. But I am aware that, in order to overtake genre codes, one needs to truly know what a genre is, and be able to define it.

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In Hiena you overcame the genre, adding some elements typically found in social dramas. You set your plot in a post-industrial region of Poland, with high levels of unemployment and you show the real life of its locals.
When I was a student I couldn't really afford film, so I mainly shot documentaries. Traces of that probably remain with me. Although I’m not interested in pure documentary, I want to tell stories about the world, turn real life surreal, leave peculiarities behind and make universal stories. I will do the same in my next film Dracula. I will set the plot in a very concrete reality, in this forgotten and ruined village of low Silesia, where locals have no hope for the future. I believe social issues are the cause of great grief.

Bram Stoker's Dracula has been adapted several times for the big screen. What led you to another one?
I was interested in the emotional side of the novel. In my script the story begins in a village that locals are abandoning, looking for a better life somewhere else. Only the weak ones remain. Dracula appears and most of the people decide to join him, taking the evil side. There is nothing but four characters opposing it. I wanted to film this passage toward evil because I have this premonition that something awful will soon happen to all of us.

You seem pessimistic.
I am indeed. Every time I am about to shoot a film, I always feel something bad might happen. So I’m always prepared for the worst, for some sort of disaster. Success is like a gift to me. That's how I see life.

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