Filmmaker, born on the 25th of April 1977 in Warsaw. Her impetus and ability to frame her plots in fairytale-like pictures gives her realistic films an air of delicate sensitivity and sincerity. Her debut feature Flying Blind premiered at the 2012 Edinburgh Film Festival
Filmmaker, born on the 25th of April 1977 in Warsaw. Her debut feature Flying Blind premiered at the 2012 Edinburgh Film Festival
As part of a generation of Polish filmmakers who are conscious of the trauma caused by communism but see it as one of many political aberrations, she is interested in how a political system influences the desires, feelings and possibilities of a human being. Trying to understand how much of what we think is the result of an assembly of impression and images encoded in the mind by culture, she asks "If I were born in Somalia instead of communist Poland, would I have been different, what decisions would I have made?"
At the heart of her first feature film Flying Blind is a romance between a 40-year-old woman and a younger man, setting the stage for a thriller involving drones, security systems and a nightmare world of suspicion and accusation. Frankie is a successful aerospace engineer with a solid social standing, Kahil is a French-Algerian student and illegal immigrant. Their passionate love story shows how Frankie’s job creeps into the most intimate realms of her life and how her vulnerability to the thrilling feelings are questioned when Kahil is deemed a "person of interest".
The plot of the film plays into Klimkiewicz's focus point as a director - how people’s social status determines their decisions and behaviour and how these decisions sustain and reinforce a global order. Flying Blind’s British producer scouted the director out at the Encounters Film Festival after discovering the filmmaker’s "European sensitivity", demonstrated in her 2009 short film Hanoi-Warszawa.
Named Best Short by the European Film Academy in 2010, Hanoi-Warszawa is an example of Klimkiewicz's approach to filmmaking - while the dialogues play their part, the essence lies in the strength of images and the film’s structure, which resembles a fairy tale. Wishing to be reunited with her boyfriend and start a new life, the protagonist - a Vietnamese girl named Mai Anh illegally enters Poland. The journey through Poland that turns into a bad dream full of humiliation and violence, adds a dimension to the film characteristic of Kasia - two opposing forces that tear the characters apart: politics and instincts, the heart and the mind. The film received a number of awards in 2010, including the European Film Award and the Cottbus Eastern European Film Award.
Klimkiewicz has said that the film is based on the collective stories of immgrants smuggled into Poland, which are similar to the experiences of Poles also looking for a better life abroad. "I thought about the fact that we are that better world now and we don't want to take notice of others who are in pursuit of it," said the director.
Growing up between two worlds - communism and capitalism - Klikiewicz is a keen observer of how two different political realities influence individuals on a daily basis. She avers
Communism made people feel like second class citizens, the authorities were arrogant for no reason and the atmosphere was grey and ugly. At the same time, I was told that a completely different reality existed.
Klimikiewicz, a child of the seventies, took full advantage of the theatre and cinema opportunities the city offered. Film festivals were her weakness and she would ditch school for days to eyeball every projection from morning till night. Other childhood memories involve learning languages, reading Nabokov with her mother and listening to her grandfather whose talks about the importance of respecting oneself and others and a modest approach to the use of big words had a shade of patriotism at a time when reality was grey and restrictive. From early on, art that transpired enigmatic atmospheres, inexplicable mysteries and deformed, yet meaningful imitations of reality never failed to caputure her attention.
Klimkiewicz says, " For Nabokov the meaning of art was found when goose bumps would run down the back when some new depth of reality revealed itself through a work of art". She says that is the thrill she looks for in art, confessing, "I want to feel that I’m alive, that for even a split second some meaning has revealed itself to me". She remembers being mesmerised as a teenager by Peter Greenaway’s 1988 film Drowning by Numbers, the way his portrayal of the world as a board game seduced and charmed her. She explains, "I was fascinated by his way framing, his stories, I still remember the beginning of the film with a little girl dressed up as the Infant from Velazquez’s painting and the weird light which illuminates the building behind her. I was also fascinated by Micheal Nyman’s hypnotic and looping music. I have a thing for looping music and its obsessive rhythm till this day".
After finding her experimenting with drugs as a teenager, Kasia’s parents re-directed her energy towards more creative activities and packed her after school schedule with workshops to keep her from going down the wrong path,. Her favourite activity became going to the SAWA Amateur Film Club where she learned the basics of filmmaking under the watchful eye of Leszek Boguszewski. At age 15 she started making her first films.
Cisza / Silence a short black and white impression filmed around a poem she composed was translated into French and was to festivals in France. The movies Katarzyna directs and the ones she likes to watch have one important thing in common - a well constructed narration and a deep metaphysical analysis of reality that goes beyond its era. Her favourite films include: Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho, Francis Ford Copolla's The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, Jerry Schatzberg's Scarecrow and Martin Scrorses' Taxi Driver. When asked what movie she returns to time and time again she names Apocalypse Now, which she considers a "sort of meditation".
Certain from early on that she would make films, a brief moment of despair came to her during her studies at the Polish Film School in Łódź. She says she felt that she lost touch with herself, she didn’t trust her feelings and her intuition. Retrieving a sense of trust to herself took a couple of year and spending two years at the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam also contributed to this process. Asked what she does to balance herself out in moments of doubt, "Watch movies, go to movie festivals," she answers with certainty and excitement, "movies help people understand what moment in their lives they are in they are in". Kasia is also involved in working to improve funding for emerging filmmakers in Poland and to foster discussions between film-makers and film critics to expand boundaries, experiment and look for new film languages, she is on the board of the Young Polish Filmmakers Association FILM 1,2 and a member of the European Film Academy, as well as an expert within the Polish Film Institute. While her home remains in Warsaw, she lives where her work takes her.
Katarzyna Klimkiewicz's debut feature Flying Blind premieres on the 24th of June 2012 at the Edinburgh Film Festival and screens again on the 25th of June. The film stars Helen McCrory (Hugo, Skyfall, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), French-Algerian Najib Oudghiri (Rendition, The Wedding Song), Kenneth Cranham (Hot Fuzz, Valkyrie). Produced by Alison Sterling, an Ignition Pictures/iFeatures production, Flying Blind is a South West Screen and BBC Films presentation in association with Matador Pictures, Cinema Six, Regent Capital and City of Bristol.
In March 2013, the filmmaker, together with Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor, has started shooting a 30 minute drama in English and Spanish on the Island of Chiloe. The project initially titled, The Time Before, that eventually has been changed into The Island has been awarded at the Huesca Film Festival. The Spanish award makes the film eligible for the Best Short Film Oscar.
Other Polish films on the programme include Wojciech Smarzowski's Rose (28 & 30.06) and Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal's It Looks Pretty from a Distance (29 & 20.06).
For more information on the festival, see: www.edfilmfest.org.uk
Author: Marta Jazowska