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GOCRITIC!

GoCritic! Interview: Ewa Bukowska

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- We interviewed Polish filmmaker Ewa Bukowska, whose first feature film 53 Wars screened in Karlovy Vary's East of the West section

GoCritic! Interview: Ewa Bukowska
Ewa Bukowska (in the middle) with actors Michał Żurawski and Magdalena Popławska at Karlovy Vary (© KVIFF)

GoCritic! chatted to the Polish filmmaker Ewa Bukowska, whose first film 53 Wars [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ewa Bukowska
film profile
]
, which screened in Karlovy Vary's East of the West section,is an evocative psychological drama about experiencing war second-hand, adapted from the autobiographical novel by Grażyna Jagielska.

Anna is a victim of PTSD, of war. She is also a woman. How are these related?
It is a very common and universal story. There are a lot of modern Penelopes who are waiting for their husbands or sons to come back from a war that is, perhaps, very far away. The only world Anna has is in relation to her marriage, her husband. The Greek Penelope was only waiting. And Anna is not just waiting but tries to be a part of life. She was looking for other things to do and other people to meet so that she does not have to think about where her husband is. It is a different type of waiting.

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What kinds of research did you undertake regarding PTSD?
I met Grażyna Jagielska, the author of the book on which my film is based on, so I spoke to her about her situation and her view on the current political events. Then I met a psychologist who treats PTSD patients and he told me some stories. What is more, I know a lot of soldiers who came back from different wars and have this illness. In Poland, everything started with the war in Iraq.

War is presented indirectly in the film, on a video camera, on the television screen. Can you elaborate on your decision to do this?
Anna is addicted. She is addicted to the news and the television. She also has to find other ways of finding out what is happening. By means of Russian video material, for instance. These are very rare in Poland because not a lot of people know what exactly is happening there, in Chechnya. Sometimes they are very hard to watch but I have decided to include them in the film because people have forgotten about Chechnya. 

During the war, people from Russia used to travel through Poland to the West. Jagielska's husband, Wojciech Jagielsky, helped 10 people from Chechnya to get to Germany.

Other than the book, what else or who else influenced you?
Women’s loneliness was the thing that most influenced me. This extreme loneliness is the most universal topic — so universal, in fact, that war is not even needed to tell its story. Everyone is lonely, everything is loneliness. To be completely honest, everyone who was involved in this project inspired a sort of loneliness in me. But I am a rebel! 

What are your future projects?
I am already starting a new project. It is a true story from the year 1943 — cruel realism clashes with pure poetry. I plan to make a film about violence, a modern film. I hope to demonstrate in my own way that all films have similar parts. I also really want to make a film based on the second book by Grażyna Jagielska — about her meeting with the soldiers at a mental institution. Last but not least, I would like to do something based on Chinese author Mo Yan’s satirical novel "The Republic of Wine". I am very interested in surrealism.

This article was written as part of GoCritic! training programme.

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