Bodo Kox • Director
"Under the camouflage of humour"
- Bodo Kox moves from alternative to mainstream cinema with The Girl from the Wardrobe, showcased in Karlovy Vary
Cult director Bodo Kox, an icon of Polish off-cinema (Marco P. and the Bike Thieves, Doppelganger), enters the mainstream with The Girl from the Wardrobe [+see also:
interview: Bodo Kox
film profile]. Selected in the competition section East of the West of the 48th Karlovy Vary Festival, the film was produced by the Warsaw-based company WFDiF, in cooperation with Canal+. Encounter with a filmmaker who has also been noticed as an actor (in Blood From the Nose and Snow White and Russian Red [+see also:
film profile] for example).
Cineuropa: How much time went by between the writing of the screenplay of The Girl from the Wardrobe and the filming?
Bodo Kox: I wrote the screenplay at the end of 2006. I therefore had five years to think about the directing of the film. In the meantime, I met a certain number of producers. But it was only in 2010, when I followed a course at the Lodz cinema school and thanks to my professor Robert Glinski, that the project sparked the interest of Wlodzimierz Niderhaus who directs the Documentary and Feature Film Production Company in Warsaw. The film then obtained the backing of the Polish Film Institute.
You are seen as a figure of alternative cinema. Was this first experience of a “mainstream” production difficult?
A little, but it was mostly my fault because I wasn’t determined enough. Directors of alternative cinema are also usually treated like amateurs. People imagine them to be people who make small films for fun during parties in student residences. There is therefore a huge gap between the world of professional cinema and alternative filmmakers. Besides, since I also officially changed my first and last name on my civil status, I am probably considered to be completely crazy.
Beyond its elements of comedy, the film is in fact very serious.
Because I am very serious! I hide my shyness, sensitivity and mistrust of the world under a camouflage of humour that was given to me by fate; so each time I work with serious subjects, I try not to be too ponderous. I have the personality of a clown, I know, but I still deal with topics like loneliness and alienation in a very serious way.
The Girl from the Wardrobe is a universal story because isolation, which touches each of the characters for different reasons, is a disease of our contemporary society.
Technology does all it can for us to be connected human beings. And we are, but the means of communication of our time have made us lazy. We lock ourselves up in our homes to meet others on Facebook, creating substitution relationships and fake profiles by choosing our best photos, for example. Finally, and this is particularly absurd, the technology which was supposed to link us together, actually keeps us apart.
The acting in The Girl from the Wardrobe is very impressive. How do you work with your actors? Do you give them a lot of freedom?
I see myself more as a football coach than as a creator. I like the method used by Andrzej Wajda, who surrounds himself with excellent actors and remains open to cooperation, without dictating demands or imposing himself too much. My team was wonderful and I knew from the start that they would give more than I could ask for. I have been aware for a long time that you should never get stuck on your own ideas because the ideas of others can be more interesting. The success of my film, if we can talk about success, is due to my team, people I call co-creators, not collaborators.
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