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Jacek Borcuch • Director

“I'm on the side of the human being”


- Encounter with an artist looking for emotional truths, now setting his signature to his fourth feature film: Lasting.

Jacek Borcuch • Director

In the wake of its world premiere at the Sundance Festival 2013 in the World Cinema Dramatic competition, Lasting [+see also:
film review
interview: Jacek Borcuch
film profile
by Polish director Jacek Borcuch premiered in Europe at the Rotterdam Film Festival, in the Spectrum section. It is the director’s 4th fiction feature film after Caulliflowerr, Tulips and All That I Love [+see also:
film profile
(selected for Sundance in 2010 and Polish candidate for the 2011 Oscar).

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Cineuropa: You've played the piano, tried to become an opera singer and had a go at acting before becoming a director. Why did you finally choose this path?
Jacek Borcuch: There was another step, because I also studied philosophy. It took me a long time to find my place. After acting in The Debt by Krzysztof Krauze, I was totally worn out, I felt as if what I was doing was artificial: I imagined myself doing something different. It was the end of the 90s, a very difficult time for Polish cinema, but also a time during which new technologies meant that movies could be filmed independently, you could make them on your own.

This exposure to such diverse artistic disciplines must have had an influence on your creativity. Did it bring several perspectives to the way in which you see the world and reality?
Exactly. I was always drawn by several things and I always kept the horizons of my interests very open. Not to become a better director, but rather as a kind of atavism. My interests are never sated, because I am always uncertain about my attitude towards the actual matter of life and art. Nothing is self-evident to me, I do not see simple truths.

It must be this kind of anxiety that makes your movies so emotional, subjective...
Yes, everything I write is written with emotion. I am not a professional screenwriter capable of developing several plots at the same time and then choosing the best version, after stepping back a certain distance. I always work on just one story, for a whole year, and I'm not capable of writing by separating myself from my life. But even so, the stories are not exact copies of my life: that would be very boring. I want to convey some kind of truth, to transpose my emotions so that the film will be understood all over the world.

Speaking of Lasting, you declared: "I decided to abandon the form that had always been very important to me, in the interest of the story and the truth. When I think about my next movies, I know that I will become more and more radical, and strive for more minimalism”. Is it possible to give up form?
You're pinning down my wording... I don't know if we can abandon it entirely, because form is like the artist’s stamp, his DNA. But it is true that in Lasting, I was very careful to keep the form "clean", so as not to manipulate the spectator’s emotions. I know that I can easily keep the viewer in a state of suspension, in a state of melancholia. Which is why I attempted to make a film that did not have great impacts, and why I simplified it to the limits of its possibilities.

The predominance of form over the story was not blatant in your previous movies Tulips and All That I Love. You always seem to give priority to man and his truth.
Yes, that's true, I make movies that are totally existential. The most important thing for me is to talk about what is within us: fear, desire, love, indifference, passion, nostalgia...

In all your movies, there is also light, hope...
Maybe because I'm on the side of the human being. I may be an idealist, but I think that all evil comes from a type of incapacity, a kind of weakness on the part of human beings. Despite my agnosticism, I have a deep need to search for the truth. It might be proof that I believe in the miracle of life.

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