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'It's exciting to be a film-maker in Poland' …


Katarzyna Klimkiewicz on the set of Hanoi-Warsaw 
How did you get started in your job?
I knew I wanted to be a film director since I was a teenager. I never really changed my mind, although I had a few moments of despair. I was lucky to have that certainty about what I wanted to do in my life.
Is there such a thing as Polish film?
I think there is, but it has been lost for the last 20 years. The strength of Polish cinema has always been its confidence in the audience's ability to read images. Nowadays film-makers in Poland have lost this confidence, and they feel they have to explain everything in dialogue, so the films have lost their magic.
How are the arts funded in your country? Does it work?
Film in Poland is mostly funded by the 
Polish Film Institute (PISF). It was established five years ago after a long period of a chaotic and corrupt funding system. The PISF works OK, but has problems, mostly with lack of clarity around the selection of films that receive funding. The institute is now preparing to reform: we'll see how deep the reform goes and whether it is effective. There are also private investors, but they're mostly interested in comedies, especially romantic ones.
What's the biggest threat to film in your country?
State funding is centralised. If you fail to receive funding from the PISF, you have pretty much reached the end of the road as far as raising funds for arthouse film is concerned.
What's the biggest threat to film in your country?
State funding is centralised. If you fail to receive funding from the PISF, you have pretty much reached the end of the road as far as raising funds for arthouse film is concerned.
How receptive are the general public to what you do?
I've only made short films so far, and in general they don't have huge audiences. However my last film 
Hanoi-Warsaw had a great reception and because of the many awards it received, it got noticed by the general public. I was also lucky to travel to many festivals and then got offered the opportunity to direct a feature-length film, Flying Blind, in the UK.
What's the standard of arts coverage and criticism?
In Poland, everybody is an expert on everything, including cinema. But there are a lot of interesting things going on right now. With 
Film 1,2 , a young film-makers' association, we have held discussions on the role of criticism in the film industry. There is also a new movement called Restart, a group of film theoreticians, philosophers and sociologists who are calling for a new Polish cinema and trying to inspire discussions between film-makers and film critics to expand boundaries, experiment and look for new film languages. There is a lot happening these days, and it's exciting to be a film-maker in Poland right now.
If someone was visiting your country and could only see one thing, what would it be?
I would suggest to go to the 
National Theatre in Warsaw to watch an opera directed by Mariusz Treliński. I was never an opera fan until I saw his Madam Butterfly. Treliński is originally a film director, and his opera productions have a unique and breathtaking style.
What have you sacrificed for art?
I didn't sacrifice anything – I feel very privileged that I can do what I'm doing.
In your country, which of the arts is the most neglected? Which dominates?
I think we need more short films. It's a form where you can experiment with ideas and develop your language. There is too little support for short films, especially fiction shorts.
Who's your tip for the top?
Andrzej Wojciechowski, the director of photography on my upcoming UK feature Flying Blind
To you, what one thing sums up British culture?
Amazing pop and indie culture that goes beyond pure entertainment and opens new horizons.
What British artists do you admire?
I'm probably not very original, but I really admire 
Banksy for his sharpness, sense of humour and his totally British attitude. He is the most talented, sensitive and the most skillful person I ever worked with.
Tell us a joke.
I'm a kind of person who either starts laughing hysterically halfway through the joke, or realises at the end when nobody is laughing that I forgot to mention one crucial detail.

Warsaw, 1977 
Graduated from the Polish National Film School in Łódź. Her documentary Wasserschlacht: The Great Border Battle received the Berlin Today award at the 2007 Berlinale. Currently working in the UK on her debut feature Flying Blind.


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