Yes, She Exists – in a World of Humaneness!
It is not by chance that Polish director Dorota Kędzierzawska was chosen to have a retrospective and a tribute paid to her by the Cinema City International Film Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia, 18-25 June). The Novi Sad-based Festival, along with Fedeora – the Federation of Film Critics of European and the Mediterranean Countries – wanted to make a loud and clear statement to the Serbian, but also to world audiences: Yes, she exists – in a world of humaneness, in a world of European art films and films d’auteurs.
And she has existed for a long time, along with her unrelenting devotion to the film, with special visual aesthetics and her own vision of the world. She is respected and esteemed, but perhaps insufficiently known to wider cinema audience.
Perhaps the reason for this lies precisely in Dorota’s nature. She is quiet, modest and unobtrusive. She does not like the media noise. She creates quietly and consistently, making powerful pieces of art, which are personal and humane, including the award-winning films: Nothing, I Am, Time to Die and Tomorrow will be Better…
Her non-commercial films struggle with difficult and painful issues of everyday life. Her characters are people pushed to the margins of society, the poor, lonely, weak and helpless, but who know how to carry the burden of life, who have faith and even a dose of joyful curiosity when it comes to discovering the world. They expect love, help, human compassion and understanding. Dorota will gladly say that she is not interested in strong people, those who plan and move from one success to another. The weak have a different outlook on life and this makes them the subject of her film interest.
And truly, the characters in her movies are withdrawn, abstinent and isolated from society. Dorota, with deep respect for her characters, sees the world from their perspective. From the perspective of an elderly man who has overcome bitterness in life, of a rejected child, or women who find themselves powerless when it comes to fighting for the love of their husbands…
The stories of Dorota Kędzierzawska are mainly inspired by fragments of life, newspaper articles, police reports, but also pictures that are part of her own experience of the world. Kędzierzawska focuses her attention on topics that reflect her own social sensibility and the motives for her strong devotion. What makes her, as well as her films, so original, is the poetry of the language in which they are told, consisting of a variety of materials, but always melodious because it is composed of humaneness.
Dorota’s films are also visually appealing, and a large part of the credit for the meticulous and poetic photography goes to Arthur Reinhart, the cinematographer who has created Crows, Nothing, I Am, Time to Die and Tomorrow will be Better with her. Arthur is also a producer and editor, as well as Dorota’s companion in life who gives her generous support.
The two are soul mates. This can be seen in their latest film Tomorrow will be Better, which won the Grand Prix for the best film in the Generation program of the 61st Berlinale 2011. It has also won the Peace Film Award, a film that, physically and metaphysically, transcends all the boundaries, even international ones, and elevates itself to a universal plane.
Three miniature heroes, three Russian boys, are rather naively trying to find a place for their dream that happy life can become a reality. They reflect the hope that one day everything will be better than it is at the moment. And that hope embraces the audience, even when it seems to them that reality is hopeless. Dorota says: “I know that as long as we have dreams, as long as we have faith and hope for the impossible, we’ll be able to find a meaning in everything that surrounds us, to rise above ground and everything that is now so ordinary, miserable, and sometimes, simply boring.”
I believe in this! And I am certain that everyone who has ever and anywhere come across her films will come to believe it as well.
Film critic and CCIFF film selector