Dorota Kędzierzawska • I am
"I remain close to reality"
Dorota Kędzierzawska is one of the few directors who makes pure auteur cinema, remaining faithful to the unique style she has developed with Arthur Reinhart, the DoP on all of her most important films. Her debut film Diabły, diabły (lit. "Devils, Devils") (1991) earned her a special mention at the Gdynia Polish Film Festival, while Wrony (lit. "Crows") was awarded the Coup de Coeur award at Cannes 1994 and journalists and audience awards at Gdynia the same year. Four years later, Kędzierzawska picked up an Eagle (the Polish equivalent to an Oscar) for Nic (lit. "Nothing"), and her latest film I Am has already won the Jury Special Prize in the Kinderfilmfest at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, as well as winning two awards last year at Gdynia.
Cineuropa: Almost all of your films feature unhappy children, whose lives are influenced by destiny. Why do you concentrate on this type of character?
Dorota Kędzierzawska : I always look for people who never lose faith in life, in its beauty, despite the unhappiness that may surround them. I am interested in characters that are taken aback by reality, by everything that happens to them. These qualities - joy and surprise - are unique to children.
All of your screenplays, except for Wrony, are based on real life events. Where did you get the inspiration for the story of I Am, that of an 11 year-old boy, Kundel, who runs away from an orphanage?
I read this story as a police note in a diary. Years ago, I knew another boy, Arek, who had left an impression on me. In fact, he didn't live too far away from the Lodz Film School. I used to watch him running and playing in the street, with his eight sisters. He dreamed of becoming a poet. He loved looking at the sky. Kundel came about from these two characters. The real event is only a starting point from which to invent the rest. But I remain close to reality which is richer in terms of unusual stories than the human imagination.
How did you persuade Michael Nyman to write the music for the film?
It was Arthur Reinhart that did, who I met in Berlin. Nyman had seen my film Nic and he liked it a lot. I think this was why he accepted to work with us. I won't deny that this collaboration with Nyman was one of the biggest adventures that I have ever embarked on as a director. I was quite afraid that he would write music that did not exactly go with my story, but I didn't dare to tell him so. But he was very open and attentive to what I had in mind and listened to my suggestions. It turned out that we felt the same way!
The titles of all your films are quite elegant, and expressive at the same time. Each title resembles some form of incantation.
For me the title is very important. If I don't have a title when I start writing, I end up throwing the script away. However, if my film has a title from the beginning, ideas come about of their own accord and the story comes about more easily too, as it should.
At the last Camerimage festival in Torun, professionals from different countries said that I Am would have been a better candidate for the Oscars than Collector by Feliks Falk, because it is more universal. Is universality one of the values dear to you?
It certainly is. I always want to make films that can be understood by all kinds of audiences, regardless of their location. And I hope that they are.
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