Ones to watch in Poland's filmmaking scene
A highly respected industry figure in the local media for the past two decades, Kapuscinski has served in posts that included artistic director of pubcaster TVP’s Kultura channel. He was also instrumental in resurrecting the KADR film studio, where many of Poland’s classic films of the 1950s and ’60s were shot, those of Andrzej Wajda among them. But in the past couple of years he’s turned to feature film producing. His first, Borys Lankosz’s “Reverse,” was a hit with international critics. His second is Jan Komasa’s feature debut, “Suicide Room.”
“He’s producing several films now and everybody in the younger generation would love to work with him, as he is really supportive and very much artistically minded,” says one insider.
A graduate of the Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theater School in Lodz, Komasa, who turns 30 in October, took third prize at Cannes’ Cinefondation in 2004 for his debut short “Nice to See You.” A native of Poznan, Komasa now lives in Warsaw, from which he drew inspiration for his segment of ensemble-directed “Ode to Joy,” which screened in official selection at both Rotterdam and Karlovy Vary in 2006.
“Suicide Room,” which combines film and animation in its treatment of the dark side of Internet chat rooms, screened this year in Berlinale’s Panorama Special section and has notched up a respectable 700,000 admissions in Poland since its March release. Komasa is now working on a Polish Film Institute co-financed $2 million project about the wartime Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Jakimowski won has built a reputation for well-observed, psychologically true human dramas. Both “Squint Your Eyes” in 2002 and “Tricks” in 2007 looked at relationships through the eyes of children. “Tricks,” about a 6-year-old boy trying to manipulate fate to bring a man he thinks is his father back home, was sold by Berlin-based M-Appeal to more than 30 countries.
He began shooting his next feature, “Blind Watching,” in Portugal this month. Produced by Jakimowski’s ZAiR, Filmes do Tejo II and KMBO Production, in association with London-based producer Mike Downey’s Film and Music Entertainment, it stars Edward Hogg and Alexandra Maria Lara. Scripted, like his earlier films, by the director, “Blind Watching” centers on a blind teacher who helps a female student rediscover the pleasures of life.
Versatile and with an eye for detail, Smarzowski gained international attention in 2004 with his comic take on life, “The Wedding.”
Smarzowski thrilled critics and audiences alike two years ago with his thriller “The Dark House,” which scooped prizes for director, editing and screenplay at the Polish Film Festival in Gydnia in 2009.
Smarzowski will be back at Gydnia in June with his third feature, “Rosa From the Mazurian Lakes” (working title), a love story set against the struggles of an ethnic minority in a remote area of post-war Poland.
One of two key female roles in Jan Komasa’s “Suicide Room,” Gasiorowska made her acting debut on stage in 2003 in Krzysztof Jaworski’s “Disco Pigs” at Warsaw’s Rozmaitosci Theater. Her movie debut came the same year in Jerzy Stuhr’s “Forecast for Tomorrow.” More recently, she appeared in Xawery Zulawski’s “Snow White and Russian Red,” based on a cult teen novel that became a bestseller in Poland, and Pawel Borowski’s “Zero.” She will next been starring in Leszek David’s new film, “My Name Is Ki” as a young woman who lives a fast-paced colorful life as she faces questions of how to become mature enough to embrace love and responsibility for herself and her son.
An award-winning filmmaker since her student days at the National Film School in Lodz, Szumowska, a member of the European Film Academy since 2001, counts a Locarno special jury prize in 2008 (along with producers Karl Baumgartner and Raimond Goebel) for “33 Scenes From Life” among a raft of awards.
Her latest film, “Elles” stars Juliette Binoche as a journalist writing about university students involved in prostitution. The film, which finds Binoche’s character Anna questioning her most intimate convictions about money, family and sex after meeting two fiercely independent young women, is produced by Slot Machine (France) and co-produced by Zentropa Intl. Poland with co-financing from the Polish Film Institute.
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