2009 Producer on the Move - Poland
by Dorota Hartwich
Director and producer at ZAiR (Zjednoczenie Artystów i Rzemieślników), Andrzej Jakimowski is a graduate of Warsaw’s Philosophy Faculty and the Silesia Radio and Television School in Katowice. He produced his two narrative features: Squint Your Eyes (2002), which won four Polish Eagle Awards (Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Audience Award) and Tricks [+see also:
interview: Andrzej Jakimowski
interview: Tomasz Gąssowski
film profile] (2007), which scooped the Europa Cinemas Label Award and Grand Prize at the Gdynia Polish Film Festival.
Cineuropa: You both direct and produce your films. Combining film creation with a host of production-related activities seems extremely difficult. You don’t regret this choice?
Andrzej Jakimowski: No, even though it’s true that combining the two is very complicated. But I’m surrounded by people who help me. This choice stems from the fact that I write very personal stories. If I entrusted my work to people from outside, my films would never be made. Usually, film ideas and screenplays are seen solely as products to be sold, in the same category as commercial commissions. Often, film industry professionals lack literary abilities and are not in a position to judge a film’s artistic potential. As a producer, I can take this risk myself. I must say, I also have an unusual approach to production and filming. I often change my mind at the last minute. Such an attitude would not be accepted by an external producer. So I’m independent. I chose to produce my films in order to enjoy this freedom.
Your productions are thoroughly Polish. They have nonetheless enjoyed success abroad (especially Tricks), screened at international festivals and been released in several countries. Do you plan to internationalise your future productions, by shooting abroad, for example?
I have a preference for documentaries. The location is very important to me. I want the story to reflect the local reality, life as it is in a given place. My two previous films are firmly rooted in a Polish reality. And I’m very keen to keep these local colours in my next film too. It’s true that my stories are universal, but I really don’t want to achieve this universality in a simplified way, by taking shortcuts, i.e. by making a sort of international mishmash. If I were to film abroad, it would be to show the local reality of the chosen setting, with its specificity and unique character.
One of the important elements of this local colour is the language. In your films, the dialogues are in Polish. I imagine that this complicates the international sales process.
You’re right. Language is a major barrier and undoubtedly limits the scope of distribution. I’m sure that if I’d filmed Tricks in English, the film would have had even wider distribution. I don’t rule out filming in English, but – and I want to make this clear – I don’t insist on striving to attract all viewers. In my opinion, it’s the quality rather than quantity of viewers that matters.
Your films nonetheless attract wide audiences; they are full of humour without being too mainstream, are light and yet linger in the memory. Do you have a recipe for good cinema?
My aim is to make sincere films and show real emotions. As a viewer, I expect the same of other directors. I don’t watch films with a critical eye, but like a child, I’m open to the emotions they evoke. Your previous two films were told from the point of view of children. What about your next film?
No, the film won’t centre on a child but on two youngsters of around 20 and will explore their feelings. The screenplay is nearly finished. I hope to start shooting in summer 2010.
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