The films takes home the Silver Leopard at the Locarno festival and awards for the best director, cinematography, music, supporting actress as well as the journalists' and film club awards at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia
The film depicts a time in a young woman life where she learns how to cope with the death of her parents. Her mother is diagnosed with cancer, and with her husband working abroad and her father losing all hope she begins to have to depend on herself. Eventually both parents die and she has to learn to cope. The story emphasises the process of emotional and social maturity developed as a result of the loss.
With an international cast, featuring Julia Jentsch and Peter Gantzler, the cinematography of Michał Englert, and the music of Paweł Mykietyn, Małgorzata Szumowska's film is considered to be a part of a trend in contemporary cinema dealing with death and dying. In an interview with Kino, she explains:
The idea for an international cast was part of a European, multicultural project. Despite fears that foreigners would be unable to play Polish characters, the impression is one of everyone acting in one language, even though this is not the case - they speak German, English, and Polish. Rehearsals took only a month! This proves my story is universal. The project required the actors to truly feel the story. Julia Jentsch had the hardest task. She had to play someone who sometimes reacts irrationally even, very differently from what is accepted. She really wanted to understand such an attitude, while I kept trying to explain it was impossible to understand. She comes from a theatre tradition which focused on intellectual analysis and a specific acting task. With this film, it was impossible to define the task unequivocally. She didn't want to rely on her personal life or emotions. But when I was editing the film and saw her in the finished material, she turned out to be authentic in every take...
It is infered that the film may have a personal meaning for Szumowska whose parents died in early 2004 within a month of each other.
33 sceny z życia / 33 Scenes from Life, Poland-Germany 2008. Scriptwriter and director: Małgorzata Szumowska, cinematography: Michał Englert, music: Paweł Mykietyn, set design: Anna Niemira, editing: Jacek Dronio, sound: Michał Dominowski. Cast: Julia Jentsch (Julia), Peter Gantzler (Adrian), Maciej Stuhr (Piotrek), Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik (Basia), Andrzej Hudziak (Jerzy), Iza Kuna (Kaśka), Rafał Maćkowiak (Tomek). Producers: Pandora Film Produktion, Film Studio STI, Shot Szumowska, ZDF/Arte. Co-financed by: Polish Film Institute, Filmstiftung NRW, DFF, distribution Kino Świat. Length: 95 min. Released on 7 November 2008.
2008 - Special Jury Award for Małgorzata Szumowska at the International Film Festival in Locarno; Award for best director, journalists' award, and award of the Association of Art House Cinemas for Małgorzata Szumowska, award for best cinematography for Michał Englert, award for best music for Paweł Mykietyn, award for best supporting actress for Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia; Zbyszek Cybulski Award and Audience Award for Maciej Stuhr.