Andrzej Żuławski has been awarded the best director prize at the 68th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival. Awards were also bestowed upon Wojciech Staroń for the documentary Brothers and Karolina Bielawska for Call Me Marianna.
The main prize at the festival in Locarno, the Golden Leopard, was won by the Korean romantic comedy Right Now, Wrong Then, by Hong Sang-Soo. The best director prize was given to Andrzej Żuławski who after years of silence has returned to the cinema with his screen adaptation of Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz, a novel first published in 1965 about a futile search for meaning.
Considered a masterpiece and the most enigmatic work in Gombrowicz’s oeuvre, Cosmos remains a challenge to interpret. Set in Poland in the 1930’s, the novel follows a quasi-detective plot, which has the narrator, a student from Warsaw on vacation in Zakopane, investigate a series of signs and symbols. This brings him ever closer to madness and destruction of the self.
Talking about Cosmos in a recent interview with Gazeta Wyborcza, Żuławski explained:
I admire the producers that read such books. This devilishly intelligent and madly literary text deals with matters that are everlasting – this is a backbreaking job when it comes to adaptation.
For his film version, Żuławski moved the story from the Polish mountains during the interwar period to modern-day Portugal.
The Poland of the 1930s with its shepherd's axes would have stifled the cosmos of Gombrowicz. Alfred Jarry wrote that his Ubu Roi takes place in Poland – that is, Nowhere. And I have shot my film in Portugal, that is, Nowhere.
Żuławski’s film, his first after a fifteen-year break, is a French and Portuguese co-production. It stars actors from France, Portugal and Switzerland, including Jean Francois Balmer, Sabine Azema, Victoria Guerra, as well as Ricardo Pereira and Antonio Simao.
Giving Żuławski the best director prize for his “existentialist thriller” is, according to the Locarno festival’s official website, “the best way to push this refined author not to wait too long to come back behind the camera”. The media industry has applauded the film, highlighting the sensuality of Żuławski’s images, his sense of humour, and layered mastery.
Brothers wins Semaine de la Critique prize
A prestigious prize was also awarded to Wojciech Staroń during the 68th Locarno Film Festival. His film Brothers won the renowned Semain de la Critique section. Staroń’s documentary is about two brothers in their seventies who decide to return from Kazakhstan to Poland to begin a fresh new life. Condemned to each other’s company, similar and at the same time completely different, they both support and burden one another. The eminent cinematographer and documentary maker Wojciech Staroń had his camera follow them over several years, capturing their daily struggles.
Karolina Bielawska’s documentary Call me Marianna was awarded the Premio Zonta Club Locarno which recognises film that promote justice and social ethics. It’s the story of a transsexual called Marianna who takes on a battle for her own identity, simultaneously exposing herself to loneliness and rejection. Bielawska’s beautiful documentary was one of the biggest winners at the 55th Krakow Film Festival.
Sources: PAP, Gazeta Wyborcza February & August 2015, edited by BS, translated by AZ