Feature film directed by Łukasz Palkowski, 2007. Directing debut of Palkowski brought him several awards...
"One lovely morning, in the year of our Lord 2005, Kwaśny and Palkowski met up. In a rundown eatery somewhere, they both sat down to a meal of dubious quality, washed down with a beverage from the Warsaw brewery. They'd met before, they'd had more than one drink together, shared a few adventures and some non-adventures too. At the start Kwaśny revealed he'd just bought a flat in Praga district. Palkowski expressed surprise from behind his beer mug. One, that Kwaśny had bought a flat, two, that it was in Praga. Kwaśny explained that it was cheap, that his parents, that the banks... That wasn't the point, though. The problem was the neighbours. Above him a hairdresser, a blonde with a thug for a boyfriend, though she was quite nice. Below him an ex-policeman turned taxi driver who kept telling him off. Add to that the installers who connected him to the wrong phone line and he kept getting calls meant for the hairdressing salon for three days. Not only did he pay them, they were also pretty unpleasant and left a huge hole above his door. So Kwaśny complained to the head office. The installers came back to tell him to call the office again because they'd been fired, to say they hadn't taken any money, or of they had it was for something else. And, they would fix that hole... Palkowski took a swig, chewed on the scraps the ugly waitress had served them, and told Kwaśny to write down his adventures, then maybe they could make a short film together. Just for practice. Kwaśny perked up, they finished their food and drinks and left without leaving a tip for the ugly lady."
The beginning of Łukasz Palkowski's director's commentary probably best describes the phenomenon of Rezerwat / Reserve, for which Palkowski wrote the screenplay together with actor Marcin Kwaśny and which turned out to be a hit at many Polish summer film festivals and reviews in 2007. Before that, it was screened at the "Youth and Film" Koszalin Film Debut Festival and won the Jury Special Prize, the award of the Youth Jury, and the audience and journalists' awards. When summer came to an end, the film was sent to Gdynia for the Polish Film Festival where it became a veritable sensation: Palkowski won the award for best directing debut, again the journalists' and audience awards, and the editing won a prize as well. The brilliant acting of Sonia Bohosiewicz deserves separate attention; she was a prize-winner in both Koszalin and Gdynia, and near the end of the year received Poland's greatest distinction for a young actor - the Zbigniew Cybulski Award.
The word "rezerwat" ("reserve") has at least two meanings in Polish. On the one hand, it means an area left untouched for a long time, and on the other - a place that deserves to be and should be protected. The use of the term "reserve" for Warsaw's district of Praga - especially in the latter sense - might come as a surprise. Praga does not have a good reputation: it lies on the east bank of the River Vistula, officially became a district of Warsaw in the late 18th century, but has preserved its special mores. Burned down and destroyed many times in the course of history, it became a breeding ground of urban folklore, a feature that wasn't changed by major industry being located there nor by the communists surrounding old Praga with huge tower block housing estates. Neither was its reputation of a "bad neighbourhood" erased by the changes during the recent political transformation. Even today, modern buildings stand next to old, dilapidated tenement houses, and venturing into the dark alleys can be a very dangerous escapade.
Why, then, does Palkowski want - and rightly so! - to protect the district? One reason is Praga's special spirit, its uplifting genius loci. Though the people living there are shady characters - petty thieves, skivers, people who are suspect in every way - they do follow a specific moral code, faithful to traditional values. What counts is truth, honesty, and loyalty, and also a sensitivity originating from the same core - a surprising trait perhaps when you get to know the slightly naïve world view of Praga's residents.
This is something a young Warsaw photographer discovers when he rents a flat on the east bank of the Vistula. The adventures of Marcin Kwaśny (who plays the part himself) as described in the director's commentary, become his adventures. At first they irritate him, but with time - once he falls for the beauty of the place and gets to know his neighbours better - he discovers the extraordinary charm of Praga: an unknown district, though it lies just a few minutes from Warsaw's city centre.
- Rezerwat / Reserve, Poland 2007. Director: Łukasz Palkowski, screenplay: Łukasz Palkowski, Marcin Kwaśny, cinematography: Paweł Sobczyk, music: Sebastian Krajewski, set design: Joanna Białousz, costumes: Barbara Łagowska, editing: Paweł Witecki, sound: Mateusz Adamczyk, Wojciech Błaszczyk. Cast: Marcin Kwaśny (Marcin Wilczyński), Sonia Bohosiewicz (Hanka B.), Grzegorz Palkowski (Grześ), Artur Dziurman (Roman), Tomasz Karolak (Rysiek), Mikołaj Muller (photographer), Krzysztof Janczar (landlord), Jan Stawarz (drunk), Bożena Adamek (Grześ's mother). Production: Paisa Films, co-financed by: Polish Film Institute. Length: 100 min. Distribution: Fundacja Film Polski. Released on 11 January 2008.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski, October 2008
- Leliwita Silver Statuette - Special Prize, youth jury's award for Łukasz Palkowski at the Tarnów Film Awards in Tarnów;
- Jury Special Prize, Youth Jury Prize, audience award, journalists' award for Łukasz Palkowski at the "Youth and Film" Koszalin Film Meetings in Koszalin;
- Award for best acting debut in a female leading role for Sonia Bohosiewicz at the "Youth and Film" Koszalin Film Meetings in Koszalin;
- Golden Fish award for best Polish film at the Ińsko Film Summer festival in Ińsko;
- Audience Award for Łukasz Palkowski at the Dwa Brzegi / Two Riverbanks Film and Art Festival in Kazimierz Dolny - Janowiec;
- Award for best directing debut, Silver Screen Audience Award, journalists' award for Łukasz Palkowski at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia;
- Award for best editing for Paweł Witecki at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia;
- Award for best supporting actress for Sonia Bohosiewicz at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia;
- Zbigniew Cybulski Award for Sonia Bohosiewicz;
- Polityka's Passport for Łukasz Palkowski - award in the film category, for "the most promising debut of recent seasons, for skilfully merging his own artistic ambitions with the expectations of audiences, for excellent work with actors";
- Eagle, Polish Film Award in the "discovery of the year" category for Sonia Bohosiewicz;
- Special recognition for Sonia Bohosiewicz at the New York Polish Film Festival;
- Award for best debut for Łukasz Palkowski at the Festroia International Film Festival in Setúbal;
- Award for best actor in a leading role for Marcin Kwaśny at the Golden Brig International Film Festival in Odessa;
- Award for best screenplay for Łukasz Palkowski at the Baltic Debuts Film Festival in Svetlogorsk;
- Award for best screenplay for Marcin Kwaśny at the Baltic Debuts Film Festival in Svetlogorsk;
- Award for best professional feature film for Łukasz Palkowski at the "Happy End" Festival of Optimistic Films in Rzeszów;
- Award for an optimistic heroine of a feature film for Sonia Bohosiewicz at the "Happy End" Festival of Optimistic Films in Rzeszów;
- Special mention for Jan Stawarz at the "Happy End" Festival of Optimistic Films in Rzeszów.