Andrzej Jakimowski • Director
by Dorota Hartwich
12/06/2008 - After the success of his debut feature Squint Your Eyes – which was produced independently and without backing from national institutions – Andrzej Jakimowski once again took on the double role of director and producer for Tricks [trailer, film focus], and the challenge paid off. Cineuropa met with the filmmaker, who combines talent and creative independence.
Cineuropa: Tricks is dedicated to your sister. To what extent is the story autobiographical?
Andrzej Jakimowski: In the film there are themes drawn directly from my life. For example, the relationship between the two main characters is based on my relationship with my sister. But at the same time the film is not an autobiography, it takes its inspiration from life in general, the life all around me.
As in Squint Your Eyes, Tricks has non-professional actors in the cast. What do they bring to your production?
An incomparable naturalness. Obviously, non-professionals can’t play all the roles, but their presence greatly influences the professional actors who, in turn, try to emulate their naturalness. Moreover, the young non-professionals are highly motivated and learn a lot from their professional colleagues. It’s a great combination.
Tricks combines three main ideas: the firm belief that one’s goals can be achieved despite adverse fate, the contrast between the naivety of childhood and the burden of adulthood, and the beautiful relationship between a sister and brother. What do you consider to be the most important theme in the film?
I’m pleased that you picked up on the first idea. What I wanted to do was encourage people to take risks. Of course, it’s not a matter of blindly taking risks – my characters don’t do this for they are brilliant observers. I’m convinced we can control our destiny even if it seems completely impossible. Taking risks is certainly not the type of good advice that parents give to their children. My film thus has an educational aim of sorts, but it’s a truth I’d pass on to my daughter, close relations and friends.
You both direct and produce your films.
Yes, if I was going from one production company to another, my films would never get made. These are very personal stories. I need my independence. I don’t want to be dependent on others, in particular producers who are often inept and incompetent people, merely going through the motions.
You shoot your films in poor, post-industrial regions. However, you transform these grey provinces into fabulous, sunny landscapes full of charm. Do films have a duty to be optimistic?
Films don’t have any duties to fulfil. What I want to show is that real life can be interesting and beautiful, even in the grey provinces. It’s a matter of point of view, which depends on our relationship with the world. Polish cinema is dominated by films that depict harsh reality and desperate people. My films are the opposite of this.
The film won the Europa Cinemas Label Award and numerous international prizes. Have these successes boosted international sales of Tricks?
Yes, the film has found distributors in most western European countries. But it hasn’t yet been bought for Italy, the Balkan countries, the Czech Republic or Slovakia. However, it has also been sold to Israel and Taiwan, among other countries. The most difficult task for our sales agent (M-Appeal) is overcoming the cliché that Polish films are gloomy. Our sales agent has to persuade distributors that our film is entirely different, that we’ve made a feature that is upbeat and very popular among audiences.