Dariusz Gajewski shooting Strange Heaven
by Dorota Hartwich
- The psychological and social thriller starring Agnieszka Grochowska and Bartlomiej Topa is produced by Takfilm together with Sweden
There is a tantalising cast for Strange Heaven [+see also:
film profile], the new feature film currently being shot by Dariusz Gajewski (who turned heads with Warsaw and Mr Kuka's Advice, among others). Co-produced by Poland and Sweden, the film stars Agnieszka Grochowska (winner of the Norwegian Best Actress Amanda Award in 2010 for Upperdog [+see also:
film profile], the Polish Eagle Award for Best Actress in 2013 for Shameless [+see also:
interview: Filip Marczewski
film profile], and nominated in 2005 for The Welts [+see also:
film profile], in 2012 for In Darkness [+see also:
film profile] and in 2014 for Walesa: Man of Hope [+see also:
film profile]) and Bartlomiej Topa (nominated for the Eagle for Best Actor in 2013 for Traffic Department [+see also:
interview: Wojtek Smarzowski
film profile]) in the leads.
Strange Heaven is being presented as a psychological thriller set against a backdrop of socially orientated cinema. Written by the director together with Michal Godzic, the story revolves around a young Polish couple (Bartlomiej Topa and Agnieszka Grochowska) who move to Sweden with their seven-year-old daughter (Barbara Kubiak), hoping to enjoy a higher quality of life than they did in their home country. Following a number of misunderstandings, they are visited by a social worker who, after seeing the child’s day-to-day life and her living conditions, finds reasons to take her away from her parents, who also have their parental rights withdrawn... The screenwriters drew inspiration from true events that have befallen people who have immigrated to Scandinavian countries. As the director has pointed out, the film tackles the cultural differences and gaps in educational standards that exist between two countries. To what extent can overbearing social services turn into oppression? This is one of the important questions that Strange Heaven poses.
Shot in Warsaw, along the Polish coast of the Baltic Sea, and in and around Stockholm (among other locations) by DoP Monika Lenczewska (who gained a high profile at the last Sundance Film Festival for her work on Difret), Strange Heaven is a co-production uniting Polish outfit Takfilm (a company founded by Dariusz Gajewski and Kuba Kosma) and Sweden’s East of West Film Cinema AB. Distribution in Polish theatres will be handled by Next Film in 2015.
(Translated from French)