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LECCE 2017

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Forest 4am: Fleeing civilization


- The latest film by Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski, which centres around a manager who, after suffering great pain, withdraws to the forest, is being shown at the 18th Lecce European Film Festival

Forest 4am: Fleeing civilization
Olga Boladz and Krzysztof Majchrzak in Forest 4am

Motorbikes, cocaine, work, sex, working out, clubbing, fighting videos and car races: it is into a frenzied whirlwind that the latest film (the 16th) by Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski, Forest, 4am [+see also:
film profile
, catapults us in its first few scenes. These opening sequences show us the protagonist, Forst, played by Krzysztof Majchrzak (who also worked with Kolski on Pornography [+see also:
film profile
, picking up a nomination at the Polish film awards in 2004, and who we also saw in Inland Empire by David Lynch), a man well past middle-age with a very unique look: a Mohican haircut, a tribal tattoo on his head, a flashy earring in his ear, and clear muscle mass. He is a surly man, the manager of a company that puts its employees through their paces to say the least, who spends his evenings partying with a wig on and can’t stand the noise zippers make.

But who is this strange man? This is what the viewer finds themselves asking as they are shown a series of little clues in dreamlike flashbacks that only at the end of the film, which has a running time of just over 1h30, will they really be able to decipher: that car on the road, that zipper closing, that hospital… But then after just 10 minutes, there is a complete change of scene. We’re in the forest, early in the morning, and he’s there, the same Forst, but he is unrecognisable: he’s living in a hut, living off game, wearing worn clothes, and sleeping in a hole in the ground. His only company is a three-legged dog and a kind-hearted prostitute, Nata (played by Olga Boladz), who walks the streets flanking the forest. Later on, a young girl appears in his hut, by the name of Jadzia (Marysia Blandzi), who seems to appear from nowhere and says she’s an orphan. She decides to stay there with him, but again, we only find out who she really is much later on. 

Kolski’s is a film that gives no explanations (it was written by the director together with the lead actor), and is being shown in competition at the 18th Lecce European Film Festival. Or at least, it doesn’t do so in the traditional way. The dialogue is sparse and we know little or nothing of the pasts of these three characters – the man, the woman and the young girl – all of whom are fragile and bruised yet stoic and fearless, albeit in different ways. We don’t even know where they’re going, what they’re looking for. They live in the here and now, making do with a bit of comfort and humanity. All in Mother Nature’s garden, which houses and feeds them, far from a civilization that is slowly dying along with the battery of the 13-year-old’s MP3 player. The musical flashback – that oboe being pulled out of a backpack and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which rings out when you least expect it – is another piece that the viewer must  fit into this puzzle, a story which is about struggle, at times brutal, but is also about salvation, love and solidarity.

Forest, 4am, which had its world premiere at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival and was also shown at Gdynia and Camerimage before coming to the Lecce Film Festival, is the first film to be produced by the director’s company, Wytwórnia Doświadczalna, in co-production with Centrala, K2, the Audiovisual Technology Centre, EC1 Łodź – City of Culture, the City of Łódź, and with the support of the Polish Film Institute.

(Translated from Italian)

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