by Dorota Hartwich
- Cineuropa met up with Poland’s Producer on the Move, Mikołaj Pokromski, of Pokromski Studio, to discuss his career, the themes dealt with by his films and the recent changes in Polish audiences
Fuck for Forest [+see also:
film profile] (2012) by Michał Marczak is without doubt at the top of the list of the titles that Mikołaj Pokromski, of Pokromski Studio, has to thank for helping him to become a world-renowned producer. However, he has been on the international film scene for 12 years, having been involved in Foreigner (2002) by Michael Oblovitz, Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) and Contact High [+see also:
film profile] (2009) by Michael Glawogger. In 2010, he served as co-producer on Winter Daughter by Johannes Schmid –winner of the German Film Award for Best Children’s Film in 2012. Together with Germany’s P’Artisan Filmproduktion and French outfit Sépia Production, Pokromski is currently co-producing a Marie Curie biopic, directed by Marie Noelle.
Cineuropa: You come from a family that is professionally linked to cinematography, and yet you decided to study business and marketing in Berlin, with a view to starting a managerial career. It was only after spending several years in that career that you came back to cinema.
Mikołaj Pokromski: As a child, I was always there on set, without fail, very close to the crew, and then I was “professionally” involved as a young actor. And actually, after my MBA studies in Berlin, I wanted to pursue a career in that domain, and I became a business manager in Frankfurt – Germany’s very own Wall Street. But I really missed the atmosphere on set – it’s like a drug. In fact, I missed it so much that I decided to do some co-production master classes at the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris, and finally, I decided to come back to cinema and go into production.
But I imagine you don’t regret that experience...
No, not at all. Those resources that I came back to Poland with have undoubtedly been extremely important. Not only in terms of increasing my knowledge, but also in terms of being good for my mind – I’ve had the chance to live in the USA, Germany and France, and to get more familiar with different mentalities.
Almost all of the films that you produce have one thing in common: they portray extraordinary individuals – some might even say outsiders. Is that a coincidence, or rather a conscious decision on your part?
It’s somewhat of a coincidence, but it’s true that it’s also in my nature. I collaborate with directors who are looking for that kind of subject. We try to touch on controversial issues that have a universal, international dimension, even though finding funding for that kind of subject is normally more difficult in Poland.
In Fuck for Forest you present a very “fringe” world – people who believe that sex that is filmed (and is often bordering on being illegal) and sold online can save the planet. Was it difficult to gain access to this group in order to film it?
It was extremely difficult. But we succeeded in spite of having to endure several very tough situations.
This film is quite a rare specimen: a widely distributed documentary that attracted quite a large audience. Do you think that the documentary genre can find its niche in movie theatres and be successful?
That depends on what you mean by the word “successful”. I would say “yes” if we’re talking about success in the sense of artistic achievement, but my reply would not be so positive if we’re talking about revenue. There are always difficult decisions to make: whether to produce an arthouse documentary, for the festivals, or rather rely on television, for example, which usually guarantees the income. In the case of Fuck for Forest, we were lucky enough to work with the distributor Against Gravity, which did some excellent work in terms of distribution as well as promotion. So I count it among our biggest successes – we managed to create a sort of community around our film. It got a wide release not only in Poland, but also in Germany and Great Britain.
There has also been a change recently in Polish cinema audiences. Would you agree with this?
Yes, absolutely. Polish viewers go to the cinema more and more often, and they want to see more and more Polish films. They make a more conscious decision when choosing the titles; they don’t make a last-minute decision at the box-office counter or at the till, as they used to do not so long ago. But what’s lacking in Poland is good cinema for children and teenagers. I’m sure it’s necessary – to make sure that young viewers have the chance to see more ambitious, high-quality productions. And yet, there’s almost no local production of that type of film.
Moving onto Cannes and your participation in Producers on the Move, what are your expectations for the programme?
It’s a great honour for me to be invited to take part in this programme. Needless to say, I plan to make new contacts and strike up new professional relationships, but above all, I would like to share our new project with everyone: Ethiopiques, by Maciej Bochniak,a history of Ethiopian music and its inimitable style, which has undoubtedly had a strong influence on free jazz and pop music. It’s also a portrait of a lost and forgotten generation of musicians.