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VENICE 2008 Venice Days / Poland

Rosa “scratches” beneath the surface of marital bliss

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Rosa “scratches” beneath the surface of marital bliss

Polish director Michał Rosa’s sixth feature film, Scratch [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, is a raw and intimate look at the ramifications of suspicion on a close couple after decades of marriage. The film’s official screening was received with applause and an animated discussion yesterday, spawned by its ambiguous ending.

Scratch opens on the birthday of Joanna (an enigmatic Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieślak), a successful 60-year-old biologist who receives a videotape with information that her husband Jan (the equally accomplished Krzysztof Stroiński) was a secret service agent planted by the government to marry into and spy on her family in the 1960s. With just a small piece of evidence to go by, she soon plunges into emotional and physical despair as her life disintegrates around her.

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The idea for the film came from an article that Rosa read about a similar case from the Stasi archives in Germany, which he then decided to set in his native Poland. However, according to the director, who is interested above all in human dynamics, “the film’s personal context is much more important than the political context, which serves only as a backdrop. How we face the shadows of the past – whether as individuals or a nation – is ultimately the same.”

Knowing that forgiveness is not always forthcoming in life, Rosa does not settle for easy answers, offering instead a painful portrait of what can happen to a person when the surface of their seemingly tranquil existence is scratched. “The film is about infidelity not only between a husband and wife but the surrounding environment as well,” he added, referring to why he set the story among Krakow’s intelligentsia.

Jankowska-Cieślak and Stroiński also played a married couple for Rosa in his 2005 film What the Sun Has Seen [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, though with a very different approach with respect to this film. For Scratch, says Stroiński, “we had several of discussions with Michał in order to maintain the live tension that needed to exist in all the scenes.”

The film was produced by Henryk Romanowski and Dariusz Sidor for Polish company Filmcontract and is being sold internationally by Germany’s m-appeal.

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