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CANNES 2006 Un Certain Regard / Poland

Retrieval : Journey to a cruel world

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Viewers were taken on a journey to a merciless Poland this afternoon, with the Un Certain Regard screening of Retrieval [+see also:
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(Z Odzysku), the debut feature by Slawomir Fabicki, the Oscar-nominated director of the 2002 short film Meska Sprawa.

Opening with an accidental, underground death in a cement works, the film takes place in a small poverty-stricken town whose young generation faces an uncertain future. This uncertainty is embodied by the life of Wojtek (Antoni Pawlicki), a 19 year-old boxer who practices this noble sport in secret betting halls, and works in a pigsty while waiting for something better to come along.

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Helped by a mafioso money collector (Jacek Braciak), Wojtek does everything in his power to give his Ukrainian emigrant girlfriend (Natalia Vdovina) money and love, in a sombre world where violence reigns. From nightclubs to peep shows, he will learn the rules of the game of physical and psychological threats ("We can make a man out of you if you’d like"), while bringing us on a conscience-stricken journey in which he has to lie to those he loves the most: a painful experience, from which he struggles to recover.

Filmed for the most part with a hand-held camera in constant movement and remarkably capturing crowd scenes, Retrieval succeeds in depicting the protagonists’ gloomy lives and their prevailing aggression, with melancholic feelings that are wonderfully rendered by DoP Bogumit Godfrejow. While the story is fairly typical, the filmmaker does not hesitate to allow the scenes of violence to escalate, which made some viewers uneasy.

Produced by Lodz-based Piotr Dzieciol and by the Warsaw-based company Opus Film, Retrieval received co-production funding from Polish public broadcasters and Canal +.

The film’s producers are now looking for an international sales agent, as is the second Polish film at Cannes, The Boy on a Galloping Horse by Adam Guzinski, which screened out of competition on Saturday. Polish cinema is well represented at the festival this year by these two young filmmakers.

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(Translated from French)

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