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VENICE 2011 Venice Days

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Ki, Last Winter show courage of single mum and young farmer


A small son, never-sufficient money, a shiftless ex-boyfriend, and social services hard on her heels: the life of Kinga, a single mother in Warsaw, is simply chaotic. Her story is told in Polish director Leszek Dawid’s debut feature Ki [+see also:
interview: Leszek Dawid
film profile
, presented on the last day of Venice Days at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.

This work of fiction resembles a documentary, so closely does the camera follow the everyday life of this young woman, always on the move: in the kitchen of her home, where at the same time she prepares the food, keeps her son occupied, answers the telephone, checks the bills, gets dressed; in the street, where she runs with the pushchair weaving in and out of the snowdrifts; at the art academy where she works as a model, and where she receives harrowing visits from her ex-boyfriend, while her son patters about among the students’ canvases.

She is an explosive character (whose vitality and eccentric clothing recall Poppy in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky [+see also:
film profile
), played with subtlety by Roma Gasiorowska, who won Best Actress at the latest Gdynia Polish Film Festival for this role.

"Ki is inspired by a young single mother I knew in real life, who one day descended on my home with her many demands. In order to survive, all I could do was shut myself away in my room and write", said screenwriter Pawel Ferdek. "There’s no beginning and ending to this story", explained the director, "we follow Ki and it’s as if we were living a little bit of her life with her".

A slower, more contemplative pace, but the same courage to live and struggle can be found in American-born Brussels-based director John Shank’s Last Winter [+see also:
interview: John Shank
film profile
, also selected in Venice Days. Here the days are regular and monotonous, punctuated by the rhythms of the land and livestock. The main protagonist of this French/Belgian co-production, besides the magnificent and wild landscape of France’s Massif Central, is Johann (Vincent Rottiers), a young farmer doomed to live on a remote plateau and bear the responsibility of the family farm, whose survival is at risk. This legacy is a source of joy for him, but also toil and pain.

According to the director it is "a film about the attachment to the land, about the confrontation between man and nature, about a community of farmers and its rules, and about the importance of inheritance, both material and spiritual". It is without doubt a well-photographed film, which immerses viewers in an unusual, primitive and bygone reality.

(Translated from Italian)

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