"A truly creative collaboration"
by Dorota Hartwich
- Shot in 4K digital and involving difficult subject matter, we discuss the domestic box-office hit Katyn with its producer from Akson Studio, a loyal partner of Wajda.
Having worked as a producer since 1992 for Akson Studio - who produced Andrzej Wajda’s recent works - Michal Kwiecinski is also a director of film and theatre productions for the television. He describes for Cineuropa the production process on Katyn
Cineuropa: When Katyn was in its initial stages, people were already claiming that for Wajda this would be "the film of his career". You weren’t afraid to take up the challenge?
Michal Kwiecinski: This wasn’t my first encounter with Andrzej Wajda. It’s the fifth film we’ve made together; we’ve been working together for 10 years and it has always been a truly creative collaboration. Katyn was no exception. Right from the beginning, I was sure we would be able to rise to the challenge together.
What do you value most about your collaboration with Wajda?
Andrzej Wajda is a highly creative, charismatic and very experienced director. He knows – like no other director – how to get the best out of his team. This is very important because a film is the result of collaborative work involving a vast number of people. Andrzej Wajda is open-minded, he takes into account the opinion of those he works with. It’s thanks to this approach that he succeeds in making great films.
The traumatic events at Katyn have personal significance for you
Events at Katyn have haunted my family for many years. My mother was the wife of the court public prosecutor who was murdered at Katyn. For many years, we lived in hope that the clues to the crime would be unearthed and revealed...
Katyn is a work of epic proportions with a substantial budget and hundreds of extras. What was the most difficult aspect of making the film?
What concerned us most was whether we would be able to tell the story as the families affected by the tragedy would expect it to be told; whether the families would approve of Andrzej Wajda’s vision and whether this vision would open up old wounds in exploring these memories (these "altars of martyrdom"). The reactions of audiences, the concentrated expressions of visibly moved viewers and the imposing and solemn silence that follows the screenings, which are sometimes punctuated by silent sobs: all this reassures me that we have succeeded in creating the effect we set out to produce.
Why did you decide to shoot the film in 4K digital?
Katyn is the first film shot in 4K digital, not just in Poland but in Europe. Thanks to this technology, the colours are more intense and greys are removed, which gives a natural palette, rich in colours and with a greater depth of image. 4K digital enables you to obtain a resolution, in postproduction, that is four times higher than that obtained with 2K. This means you can alter the smallest details and add to the image without the viewer noticing.
Are you satisfied with the number of admissions garnered by Katyn (currently more than 2.7m viewers)?
Katyn achieved a good position in the box-office rankings for 2007 and it occupies 8th place in the history of film distribution in Poland after 1989 and 4th place among Polish features. It outperformed Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, and it may do even better because the film is still showing