Warsaw Pact Films Presents:

“ MY  FRIEND
   THE
  POLISH GIRL

TEASER   TRAILER

synopsis

contact & press kit


New Horizons FF screening times

SCREENING TIMES NEW HORIZONS FF:

Monday 30 July 16:15
Kino Nowe Horyzonty 7

Tuesday 31 July 13:15
Kino Nowe Horyzonty 7

Saturday 4 August 16:00
Kino Nowe Horyzonty 6

synopsis

SYNOPSIS

“The Power and Control Over Intimacy”

From Cannes and Telluride nominee Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek comes a fiction film that takes the form of a first-time filmmaker’s documentary.

MY FRIEND THE POLISH GIRL borrows from cinéma vérité and video bloggers to create a rare naturalism in style and performance. The fiction film watches as an experimental documentary told through the eyes (and lens) of amateur filmmaker Katie: an American rich kid following Alicja, an erratic unemployed Polish actress.

Set in a post-Brexit-vote London, Katie’s colonising, disruptive presence in Alicja’s life mirrors the treatment of migrants in the UK: Welcomed, used, then discarded. A raw, sexual, and visually brash fiction documentary exploring the abusive power and control over someone’s intimacy.

more info

What is a “fiction documentary”?

This is a term we (the filmmakers) have coined to best describe this film. Like a pseudo-documentary it takes the form of a documentary film but MY FRIEND THE POLISH GIRL pushes the genre a step further by depicting the film as a documentary created by one of its characters. The result is a fiction film that watches as an experimental documentary told through the eyes (and lens) of amateur filmmaker Katie Broughton. (Don’t worry, it all makes perfect sense when you see the film.)

Are there any real events or real-life characters portrayed in the film?

None. The film was meticulously scripted and the performances we’re created through an intense process with the actors. This very deliberate handmade “docu style” was followed through in the camera work, the edit, and sound mix. In preparation, we watched many documentaries and compared them in structure to fiction films. We observed that, along with extremely natural performances and dialogues, we would also have to create a certain haphazardness of story events to create an impression of capturing reality.

What were some of the challenges in creating a genuine documentary feel?

We found that approaches that work perfectly within traditional film storytelling, felt contrived and synthetic. There are certain ingrained conventions used when it comes to creating fiction film performances. Conventions that we constantly had to be conscious of and break. It was important for us that our film read as reality and did not give the impression of actors interpreting a script. Seemingly banal actions, like an actor punctuating the end of a scene through their body language or cadence had to be discouraged. As was an actor’s tendency to always be attentive in a scene; in real life people are more easily distracted by their ever-changing surroundings. We went through an intense work process with our performers, often amounting to fifteen takes or more. Together with the actors, we had to rethink our craft, which often was demanding and counterintuitive.

What inspired the distinct visual style?

With the visuals, we took the lead from Katie, the character whose film we’re watching. The camera had to move and behave as she would: intrusive, abrasive, and adoring of Alicja. It would also have to embody Katie’s limited film experience and her fresh approach to filming. We imagined her taking inspiration from many styles of more classic cinema (early cinéma vérité, the French New Wave, the direct cinema films of the Maysles brothers etc.) but also from the creative explosion of artists online. We looked at vloggers and microbloggers: young women with raw aesthetics, who are not afraid of experimentation. We drew from both traditional and very primal forms of filmmaking to try and make something new and unique. The film’s animated sequences, selfies, on-screen captions, and colour inserts, where all incorporated at script stage. These elements had to feel like Katie’s work, while feeding into the meaning and themes of the film.

bios

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

The fiction film My Friend the Polish Girl is seemingly a documentary about a damaged unemployed actress living in London (Alicja) but is also a critique of the documentarian filming her (Katie). Katie is a filmmaker searching for “answers” but steps on people like Alicja to get them. Alicja, on the other hand, uses her sexuality to dominate others, including Katie. These power struggles interested us and we decided to explore them through Katie’s lens, as the film the viewer watches would be Katie’s documentary, making the viewer, in some way, her alter-ego. We were interested in critiquing the viewpoint of a filmmaker (and to some extent critiquing ourselves).

We wanted My Friend the Polish Girl to communicate an emotional story of two dysfunctional women struggling to find intimacy. To varying extents, we were inspired by the cinema of Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Camera Buff”, “Man Bites Dog”, as well Atom Egoyan’s “Calendar”, but more than anything, we wanted to create something of our own; a film about the vanity of an artist and her failure to fully explore the human psyche.

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BIOGRAPHIES

Ewa Banaszkiewicz/Mateusz Dymek
Writers, Directors, Producers

Both children of immigrants, Ewa was born and raised in London by a Sri Lankan mother and Polish father. Mateusz was born to Polish parents who defected from communist Poland to live in Sweden and the States. In their twenties, Ewa and Mateusz made a return to Poland to study film direction at the prestigious Polish National Film School in Lódz. They both connected through the feeling that the outsider immigrant experience was something they couldn’t quite escape.

Ewa’s student film, “I Wish, I Wait,” which touched on the Sri-Lankan diaspora in London, premiered in competition at Cannes Film Festival and was also selected for Telluride and Karlovy Vary. Mateusz’s student documentary, “Ewelina!,” about an unemployed actress, was screened at Dok Leipzig and later sold to Polish Television, while his diploma experimental fiction film, “Surface Animal” was nominated at Gdynia Film Festival (the “Polish Oscars”). After film school, Ewa was invited to the the Cannes Cinéfondation Residence in Paris, while Mateusz attended the Nipkow Programm in Berlin. Both experiences drew them further away from a sense of home.

From 2007 Ewa and Mateusz started collaborating on projects: “3 in a Bed,” a play which they co-wrote, won a new writers competition and was later produced by BBC Radio and Polish Radio. Their mid-length films “Come to Me” and “In a Land Full of Toys ;-)” (both coming-of-age stories) were screened in Krakow Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival (again) and won several prizes at important Polish festivals, including Gdynia.

Between these films, they have written a myriad of other radio plays for the BBC in London, where they currently reside after many years in Warsaw and sporadic stints in New York. In 2009, they eventually got married and soon after set up the production company Warsaw Pact Films. Through this enterprise, they produced and co-directed the experimental short film “BEASTS“. The film was made in collaboration with the renowned British dance company The Ballet Boyz and was originally commissioned for Channel 4 in the UK, but controversially banned from broadcast for the way it choreographed violence. BEASTS was later proudly screened at the BFI London Film Festival and Clermont Ferrand. Warsaw Pact Films has recently been commissioned to produce the Brexit drama, “The King of the Flat White as Narrated by Queen Elizabeth II“ for BBC R4.

Through their work, Ewa and Mateusz strive to depict a truthful, if disturbing, psychological portrait of people struggling to fit in. Their exploration of humanity touches upon issues of sexuality, vulnerability, and humour. They naively believe that cinema language is still a largely unexplored art form. My Friend the Polish Girl is their debut feature.


Aneta Piotrowska
Actor -- “Alicja”

Born in Poland, Aneta trained at the Lart Studio in Kraków. She came to London over fifteen years ago for a two-week holiday to visit a friend and never went back. Aneta works successfully as an actor in television, theatre as well as radio. Her latest credits include stage performances in “Perfect Murder” and “Dead Simple” at Mill at Sonning, a role in the feature film “The Last Boy”, Evelyn in the award winning short animation “Wednesday with Goddard” and parts in BBC radio dramas including “Polygamy for Girls” and “Connor’s Song”. She is a member of theatre company Cabinets of Curiosity.


Emma Friedman-Cohen
Actor -- “Katie”

Emma is an American/South African/faux-British actress currently living between New York and London. After growing up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, she decided to flee to the Scottish Highlands and later to Edinburgh University where she was part of Bedlam Theatre and the International Fringe Theatre Festival. After University Emma moved to London to train at the Drama Centre where her work brought her to the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as well as working and training for a few gruelling months at the Vakhtangov School in Moscow, Russia.

Emma’s work in London ranged from classical stage productions including Ibsen, Shakespeare, Chekhov and Tennessee Williams, to independent films and commercial work. In 2014, along with her creative partner, she decided that starting a production company was the sane thing to do and has since produced five short films with a feature being shot this summer in the US. The short films have been screened in festivals in France, Ireland, and Romania. Emma currently continues to bounce between film, television, and stage in the States and will always be passionate about being given the opportunity to tell stories.

email:

✆ +44 (0)7976 210353

website: warsawpact.co

Twitter: @ewaandmateusz

Facebook: Ewa and Mateusz

Facebook: My Friend the Polish Girl

Instagram: @ewamateusz

Instagram: #myfriendthepolishgirl

Press Kit *



Sales: Antipode Sales & Distr.  julia@antipode-sales.biz

Sales UK & Poland: Warsaw Pact Films  contact@warsawpact.co

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