Feature film from 2011 directed by Adrian Panek.
Still-frame from the movie "Daas", directed by Adrian Panek, starring Andrzej Chyra and Magdalena Czerwińska. Photo Marcin Gąsiorowski/Agromedia Production
Adrian Panek's film may well be among the best, if not the best, Polish debut of the season. It has already won the prestigious Andrzej Munk Award from the Łódź Film School and it was recognised by Youth and Cinema Debut Film Festival in Koszalin for its technical aspects, namely cinematography and sound. Actor Mariusz Bonaszewski also received an award for the leading male role. Adrian Panek is admired not only for his mature directing technique, but above all for his bravery in creating a period film requiring a hefty, star-studded cast with an ambiguous, complex message. It is truly a great challenge, especially for a first-time director. And Panek appears to have triumphed in meeting the challenge.
The film revolves around the character of Jakub Frank, an 18th century mystic, who not only became famous, but also sowed the seeds of doubt in thousands of hearts of people of his era, from beggars to kings. "Daas" is a tale of his power, but also of the origins of an unavoidable defeat. In 1776 Jakub Goliński, who comes from the new territory of Galicia resulting from the partition of Poland, addresses the Kaiser of Austria with a complaint about Frank, who allegedly has abducted his wife. The complaint finds its way to the counselor of the Kaiser's chancellery Klein, who decides to investigate the matter and summons Goliński to Vienna. The counselor's activities aren't omitted by his superiors: there is a certain interdependency between Frank, who is infamous as a healer, and the court, and more accurately - Kaiser Joseph II himself. Klein will learn about this interdependency too late to save his career at the court, but he will succeed in saving Goliński…
"Daas" can be understood from various points of view. It is in a sense a biographical film, although the main character of this biography isn't the protagonist of the story. It is also a historical work, although there are many references to modern times in it, such as the plot about the sect founded by Frank and organised in a way which resembles the structure of modern religious sects. It recalls the influence Frank and his followers (Frankists) had on the upper spheres of Polish society once they had assimilated. Their philosophies are said to have had an influence on the romantic poetry of Adam Mickiewicz and other major Polish poets.
One can look upon Panek's film as a treatise on power - whether real or fictional. Finally, it can be received purely as a crime story. In an interview with the Kino monthly, Panek admits he didn't think of "Daas" as a crime story at first. He explains that "a crime story isn't something typical for a period film which is precisely placed in a particular historical context. "Daas" was to be a film about a mystery. There is an enigma:
"we don't know whether Frank really is a messiah or what his activities in Vienna might concern. But if somebody is to solve this mystery, then crime story elements appear automatically. I think that by adding these elements I made the story more attractive and justified its certain complexity".
Critic Jakub Stocha's review in Kino was enthusiastic, distinguishing the film from other costume dramas in that it avoids the fanfare and pageantry of the genre. He calls it
"nontransparent cinema, which stands in clear opposition to those elements that are usually linked with contemporary times, slogans such as: transparency, the era of the mirror-screens, but at the same time it is exceptionally contemporary".
Adrian Panek (born 1975) is a graduate of the Architecture Department at the Wrocław Polytechnic University, the Directing Department at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School in Katowice and the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing. He is a screenwriter and director of feature films, documentaries and music videos. He has directed several documentaries for television, along with several well-received student etudes. "Daas" is his first full-length feature film.
"Daas", Poland 2011. Written and directed by Adrian Panek, director of photography: Arkadiusz Tomiak, music: Issidoros Papadakis, scenography: Dorota Dąbrowska, costumes: Barbara Sikorska-Bouffał, editing: Witold Chomiński, sound: Piotr Domaradzki, Mirosław Makowski. Cast: Andrzej Chyra (Jakub Goliński), Mariusz Bonaszewski (counselor Klein), Olgierd Łukaszewicz (Jakub Frank), Janusz Chabior (Łabędzki), Robert Gonera (Piasecki), Sławomir Orzechowski (counselor Grossen), Magdalena Czerwińska (Golińska), Maciej Stuhr (Kaiser). Production: Agromedia Production, Odra Film, WFF Wrocław, Divizion Film Studio, Luks Film, Tom. Co-financed by: the Polish Film Institute, the Marshall Office of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, the Municipal Office of Wrocław. Distributor: Best Film. Runtime: 102 min. In cinemas from the 10th of October 2011.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski, November 2011. Translated by Marek Kępa, January 2012.
Polish Productions at the 2011 New York Jewish Film Festival