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Paweł Łoziński • Director de The Balcony Movie

"Quería ver si podía revertir los papeles y no ser seguir a las personas con la cámara, sino esperar a que viniesen a mí"


- Cineuropa ha entrevistado al experimentado director polaco para hablar sobre su último trabajo, premiado en la Semana de la Crítica de Locarno y en el Millennium Docs Against Gravity

Paweł Łoziński  • Director de The Balcony Movie
(© Ludwik Lis)

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

For two-and-a-half years, Paweł Łoziński, one of the most recognised and lauded Polish documentary directors, sat on his balcony, and trained his camera on the pavement below and the people walking past. By asking a few simple questions, he told some amazing human stories, along with all the happiness, pride, sadness and loneliness that came with them. The Balcony Movie [+lee también:
entrevista: Paweł Łoziński
ficha de la película
is screening at the 18th Millennium Docs Against Gravity, the online part of which unspools until 3 October.

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Cineuropa: We can’t open this interview with any other question than the one you asked the characters in your film: who are you?
Paweł Łoziński:
Now? I’m a busy man, but it’s just for a moment, a week or two, and then everything will get back to normal. Normal for me is just life: walking my dog, family life, work, looking for a new idea for a film. But you know, the question “Who are you?” is a dangerous one, and that’s why I was asking it. I saw the impact of that question on my protagonists and felt it was a burden myself when one or two of them asked it back. There comes a moment after several years – in my case, fifty-something years – when one sums up one’s life and the roles one has played. And all that comes to mind is a cliché: I am a father, a partner, a director… I add all of that up in my head, and I feel that it’s actually not a lot. It’s a horrible feeling. What was interesting was that the men I asked that question never said they were a “man”, while women usually started with the answer “I’m a woman.” And who are you?

A person asking you questions. Defining who a person is seems restrictive, and so is the frame that you use in your film, fixed on the ground below your balcony. What did this provide you with?
It was an experiment. I wanted to check if I could reverse the roles and not be someone who chases people with a camera, but instead wait for them to come to me. I wanted to close the world within the frame and wait until it filled up with people. I like limitations in film, I like structure, and that ascetic form felt particularly interesting to me. I didn’t look around or stare at trees; I eliminated all irrelevant things and focused on 8 square metres of pavement, which turned it into what I call a “stream of life”.

You spent two-and-a-half years watching that stream.
When I think about it today, I don’t know how it could have happened. It was a bit like an addiction – tiring and exciting at the same time. Waiting for a person, learning who they are and what they had to say, and recording the material was fascinating.

Some of them you already knew, like your neighbours.
I didn’t know anyone that well. I got to know Zosia and Jadwiga a little better. But I didn’t know Robert at all, and he told me many things about himself. Initially, I had this concept that most of my characters would show up in the movie just once; only a few are recurring.

You usually train your camera on your immediate environment – your neighbour or your father, Marcel Łoziński, who is also a director. But you could be travelling the world in search of stories.
Like I said, it was an experiment, and I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I don’t need to run around with a camera or go to remote parts of the world to find my protagonists. I can stand still, and if I do it for long enough, the world will come to me. I recorded many people from different countries, but I decided to limit my story to what I know best – Poland. It’s a movie about Poland, and you are right that most of the time, I train my camera on what surrounds me, but there are exceptions.

Like Birthplace, a legendary documentary about Henryk Grynberg learning about the fate of his family, who perished during World War II.
It was also about me – a Polish Jew. I realised that more or less every film is about me. And if I am asking people what the meaning of life is, or who they are, it’s because I don’t have a good answer myself to these questions.

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