Damaged: A tragicomedy through time
by Dorota Hartwich
- The new film from Filip Bajon has been shown in the competition selection From Poland at the 13th edition of Tofifest in Toruń, Poland (which took place from 18 to 25 October)
Considered to be both a “classic” amongst Polish filmmakers, yet also perceived as a “rebellious” director, Filip Bajon has confirmed his very independent status with his new feature, Damaged [+see also:
film profile], presented in the competition selection From Poland at the 13th edition of Tofifest in Toruń, Poland (which took place from 18 to 25 October).
Born in 1947, Filip Bajon has made a name for himself as an auteur who chooses a very individual angle to tackle History, but also Polish literature, which is often the starting point for his films. Without paying too much mind to the degree of popularity of the literary works which he turns to, and even when he engages with very famous stories such as The Spring to Come by Stefan Zeromski ou Maiden Vows by Aleksander Fredro, Bajon interprets them in his own way, accentuating the motifs and questions which he considers revelatory (though they might not be perceived as such by literary teachers and historians).
His new work, Damaged is an adaptation of The Morality of Mrs. Dulska by Gabriela Zapolska, a theatre play of manners published in 1906 in Warsaw, a tragicomedy which has become an iconic critique of the bourgeois milieu, unmasking its hypocrisy, duplicity, lies and disdain against the poor and the weak.
In his adaptation, Filip Bajon structures the action of the drama on three temporal levels. The story of the Dulski family (which focuses on the characters of the mother, the daughter, and the grand-daughter) is a variation of the source material and constitutes a kind of continuation of it. The grand-daughter, Melania (Maja Ostaszewska), a film director, is visited by Rainer Dulsky (Wladyslaw Kowalski), a professor in Switzerland who is seeking the truth about his family. Melania, intrigued, begins helping him and the both of them discover a past filled with secrets — some of them shameful — which were supposed to remain buried forever. Melania, carefree and stubborn, casts reproaches on everyone around her, and ultimately decides to reveal the truth in a film she wants to make.
The film’s strongest asset is its female cast, made up of well-known Polish actresses: Krystyna Janda, Katarzyna Figura and Maja Ostaszewska. Present at Tofifest in Toruń, Figura explained her approach towards the film: “In preparing myself for this role, I looked for inspiration in the work of Carl Gustav Jung rather that in Zapolska’s play. After reading the script, I felt that its multiple facets would make the character difficult to interpret. The time jumps, as well as the obligation to first play a very young character then the same one equipped with a great wealth of experience, were real challenges for me.”
Produced by Wlodzimierz Niderhaus for WFDiF (Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych), Damaged has benefited from the support of the Polish Film Institute (PISF). The feature film is in Polish cinemas since 2 October, distributed by Kino Swiat.
(Translated from French)
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