Every year, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival collects a great selection of short films, made by film students and graduates from various countries of Europe. With their unique style, vision and brave mix of genres, the 10 newcomer directors of the Future Frames are showing a promising future for the European cinema. We made a short interview with all directors who got selected, meet Klara Kochańska, director of the short film Lokatorki (The Tenants).
Director’s bio: A graduate of Warsaw University, Klara is now in her final year of studying Film Directing at the Polish National Film School in Lodz. Her shorts have been selected by several festivals where they won awards, with her diploma film Tenants having received prizes so far in Warsaw and Hong Kong. She is now planning to shoot a low-budget experimental film, Via Carpatia, with friends this summer and is preparing her feature debut Cold Water with Studio Kadr.
The Tenants: Justine, a lonely woman in her thirties, buys an indebted apartment on a bailiffs auction. On the day she wants to move in, she discovers that the keys she was given don’t match the door. The faith will test her endurance, character and morals. Sometimes a dream fulfills as a nightmare…
What was your first thought when you realised you got into the Future Frames?
I was very happy. I think this kind of initiative has a lot of sense for young filmmakers.
How do you prepare for the festival? What do you expect from it?
I ironed my clothes for the first time since long time ago. No I don’t have to expect anything, because I am already here. And the way everything is organized is way over my expectations.
How is the film education in your school? Do you get funds for your short films there?
I think the education in my school has a lot of sense. We have a lot of practical task assigned that are looked upon by our grate teachers specially in the first 3 years. We can learn on our own mistakes working with our colleges cinematographers, editors, actors, producer, scriptwriters. Experience a lot on the set and analyze it in class. But we also learn from professionals in sound design and editing while doing postproduction in school. The Polish National School really has a lot to offer. We get budget for our shorts and the whole postproduction and production time.
How did you came up with the story of The Tenants? Is it still common in Poland that people have to share their apartments?
The inciting incident of the plot was inspired by a true story the co-writer, Kasper Bajon found in the newspaper. About a woman in her thirties who bought an apartment on a bailiffs auction. And yes, still students, but also people even in there thirties who are single, don’t have savings or help from parents, and still don’t earn enough to afford their own flat share apartments while renting only a room. That is very common in Polan.
There are also many similar stories with the property possession rights like in the Tenants, because Poland changed here political system first after the II war, then after 1989 . People where expropriated and disrooted several times. Right now buying indebted apartments with lodgers who will have to be evicted is mostly done by investors, but their are cases, like the real one which inspired the film, when private buyers decide to do that.
Your main character is suffering with a lot of things in her life: the tenants, her studies, job, and the sickness too. Is she based on a real person? What do you think about her character?
In way the main character is based on my imagination of a real person – the woman in the newspaper article also was lonely, on possessions, worked a long time in a corporation, but still couldn’t afford a normal mortgage loan. I imagined her decision to buy this indebted apartment came out of desperation, but also from a strong resolution to change her destiny to a better one. I thought of a character who finally decides to take her life in her hands, “make the big jump”, and nothing goes the way it should. Her destiny, in a way she sees it, can’t be changed. All she has is bad luck. I wanted to be a little funny in her struggles. She is this kind of character that the Jewish philosophy understands and the Coen brothers make films about. Our destiny can’t be changed. We are funny in our efforts. Ale we can do is surrender in a smart way.
How was the shooting? What was the most difficult part, and what is your favourite memory of it?
Yes the shooting was difficult. It was December. It was very cold. We were all sick. We didn’t have enough money so the producer manager , Ania Kasinska, had to be a magic maker. And on the set we had as much bad luck as the main character. People broke their legs, crashed their heads, the playing animals got vaccine complication. But I loved it anyway. I had a grate and creative crew with me, among others talented DOP Zuza Kenrbach. We all worked to make the same picture. And we had a lot of fun creating the world in the apartment, somewhere on the border of realism.
Do you work with professional or amateur actors? Which one do you prefer?
I prefer working with professional actors, because I didn't have much chance to work with amateurs. I love learning from professionals. Finding together what we are looking for. Working with the grate leading actors Julia Kijowska and Beata Fudalej was a thrill, a present. I didn't expect so much. With amateurs I worked only once a long time ago on my first year of school. The role required it because it was a part of for a child. But I am open to change if the script requires it.
What movies and directors inspire you?
I have been fascinated by films since I was a little girl, so I sometimes wake up sweated when I think my biggest influence may be Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. To be serious, I studied 5 years of anthropology so in the beginning of film school I was also strongly influenced by theoretical leftwing movements, modern philosophy – Lacan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Battaile, Foucault. I even promised my self when I got in to film school that I will do fiction only about excluded characters and documentary about the socially preferred ones but now I see those kind of stiff decision don’t make sense because creating is a unpredictable process. I also believe that being influenced is something that often happens to us unconsciously so I would say: I try not to be “influenced” by other filmmakers, but I prefer to analyze and study their work when I know exactly what I want to learn from them. I admire and enjoy a lot of different masters of cinema, from Roman Polanski, Michael Antonioni to the Coen Brothers, Bennet Miller and many others so it’s hard to talk about any influence in general .
What is your next film plan? Are you preparing for a short or a feature?
I have one feature debut script ("Cold water") in pre-development, which is co-financed by Polish Film Institute. And I hope to start shooting it in the end of this year. But while waiting for some decision I can’t really impact on I plan to make a low budget production this summer us a co-director with my husband, writer and filmmaker, Kasper Bajon, a couple of young talented cinematographers, Zuzanna and Julian Kernbach and a third couple of grate actors Julia Kijowska and Piotr Borowski, which will stare in the picture together. This project, called Via Carpatia, is absolutely unconventional and risky. We want to shoot the film using fiction and documentary methods combined in 7 days while traveling on to Macedonian border together.
Director’s bio, short film summary, and photos from the official website of the Future Frames. More interviews are coming with the directors!