Krzysztof Skonieczny • Director
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Young Polish director Krzysztof Skonieczny showcased his first, unsettling feature film, Hardkor Disko, at the 16th edition of the Lecce European Film Festival
A director of theatre, a producer and an actor (he has been in films by Agnieszka Holland and Andrzej Wajda), Krzysztof Skonieczny makes his debut as a film director with a raw and unsettling portrait of modern-day Polish society, between hedonism and an excitable buzz (see news article), in which the mysterious protagonist, Marcin, squares things with his parent’s generation. Hardkor Disko [+see also:
interview: Krzysztof Skonieczny
film profile] was screened at the 16th Lecce European Film Festival (held 13-18 April), where we met the director.
Cineuropa: Where did the inspiration for this strange and enigmatic killer come from?
Krzysztof Skonieczny: The image I started with was that of a boy looking straight into the camera, expressing contrasting emotions: fear, suffering and a lot of rage. Then I wanted to find a metaphor, a symbolic way of showing the contrast between two generations, the “hardkor”, younger generation, all adrenaline with a brutal, turbulent lifestyle, and the “disko” generation of my parents, which more nostalgic for the past. I wanted this man to arrive, enter into a reality and become almost a mirror of that reality. A reality that is collapsing around him. Marcin arrives on the scene like a bomb. He’s connected to the people he kills, in some way. But this is the mystery of the film, it’s up to the viewers to work out how.
What is this reality you mention and what is collapsing?
The young are drowning in hedonism, in self-destruction, in consumerism. We’ve burned our history, our ideals, and have a lot of money but superficial relationships. This man seeks the truth. The reality inhabited by both generations is collapsing because deceit is replacing real life. I wanted this man to bring out people’s individual fears and passions. It’s a film about our past, communist Europe, and how capitalism influenced our previous lives. There are too many things left in the dark, Marcin wants to cleanse and bring this reality into the light.
Right up until the very end the viewer is left wondering why the protagonist kills those people in particular. Were you not afraid of leaving people disappointing by not telling them?
All the information is there in the film, delicately inserted. There’s a set path you have to follow. ‘Why’ is not the main point of this film. At first glance there’s this psychotic boy who kills without a motive, but if you dig deeper you see fathers, mothers and children, a little girl in the video, conversations about a disease of the heart in the family, strange connections. I didn’t want informative scenes. A lot of people watch the film a second time and see that everything is there. We’re so used to pop culture, to American film, that we automatically follow the plot, but here that’s not what’s important. If you pay close attention the film opens up to you like a rose. It mirrors the viewer, what you see depends on your emotions, your past experiences. The more you give this film the more it gives back. You’re the one that decides, you’re either part of this world or you reject it.
Who are your cinematographic points of reference?
I like arthouse films without a lot of action, based on emotion and experience. For me, film is an art form. I greatly admire Gaspar Noé, Carlos Reygadas, Lars von Trier, great filmmakers of days gone by like Pier Paolo Pasolini (Hardkor Disko has something vaguely reminiscent of Theorem about it), great Polish filmmakers such as Kieslowski, and even Jim Jarmush and his way of producing films in the style of the French New Wave, among friends. I wanted this film to reflect my respect for cinema of the past. But there also comes a point where I have to leave my points of reference behind, cut off the heads of the greats, so to speak, to push on with my experiments and the avant-garde. It’s a struggle between old and new cinema. I respect both but break the rules.
The film was released in Poland last year and did the rounds of the film festivals. Is it scheduled for release in any other countries anytime soon?
The film was produced independently, with passion, heart and determination. We’re working on the distribution and promotion side of things. It’s already received around twenty prizes in its travels around the world, and we still have a lot of festivals lined up. I think the future is bright for this film outside Poland, but it’s a future that has yet to be defined.
(Translated from Italian)