The first time Łukasz Ostalski and Paweł Wysoczański appeared at Ekran was in 2015 at the 7th Toronto Polish Film Festival. Ostalski’s diploma film from the Gdynia Film School, The Mother (Matka), had made its Canadian debut and Wysoczański screened his feature length documentary Jurek, about famed high altitude and mountain climber, Jerzy Kukuczka.
Fast forward one year later and the Polish filmmakers returned to Toronto. However, this time they were not specifically invited by Ekran but by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto. After viewing their films and meeting Ostalski and Wysoczański at Ekran in 2015, the Consulate had the filmmakers return to Toronto to be supervisors in a workshop teaching youth students from Polish language schools on how to create their very first films.
This project, called “We the Poles”, had Ostalski and Wysoczański guide students through the filmmaking process. The films made are about Polish immigrants coming to Canada. The students also happen to be Canadian born and raised children of Polish immigrants.
Both filmmakers were elated to work with their Polish-Canadian students. When Wysoczański reflected on the experience he smiled and said, “My student created a short animation about Polish Scouts in Canada. It’s incredibly funny. You have to believe me; South Park has nothing on this film. But in all seriousness, my student is so gifted. I truly believe that he will have a career in filmmaking one day.”
Ostalski and Wysoczański were both very impressed by the creativity, talent and enthusiasm that their students shared. Ostalski’s students were two 14 year old females who made a sci-fi thriller which they wrote, directed and acted in. He was excited when looking back at the experience working with his students and also hopeful that they will further pursue filmmaking in their future.
Ostalski: “I think that this workshop opened the students’ eyes to the world of filmmaking. We taught them that the first requirement of making a film is an idea. That’s the most important element and it was great to show them how step by step they could actually develop that initial idea into a movie. To watch these kids absorb the experience and the knowledge we were able to share with them was definitely an incredible feeling.”
Wysoczański: “Both Lukasz and I made our first films when we were in high school. I remember my first student film like it was yesterday. I made it when I was 14. That was so many years ago but I won’t ever forget that experience. It inspired me to become the filmmaker I am today”.
Currently Ostalski is in research and development for his next film, which will be a crime story that takes place in Poland. He has also been directing a television drama in Warsaw and finished screening the feature drama Nowy świat (New World), a film about immigrants facing personal conflicts in today’s Poland.
Wysoczański is currently in production for his next feature documentary about Polish missionaries and doctors working in developing countries. During the time of this interview, he’d just returned from filming in Papua, New Guinea.
Never did these filmmakers imagine that one day they would be teaching their craft to Polish-Canadian students in Toronto. But as Wysoczański said, “That’s the best part of working in the film industry. You never really know what the future will bring”.
The student films of We the Poles / Nasza droga do Kanady are premiering in Toronto at Jackman Hall, the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West) on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 5pm.
Seating is limiting and attendance is encouraged to be confirmed at Toronto.email@example.com
We the Poles / Nasza droga do Kanady is a project presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Filmmakers Association in collaboration with the Polish Teachers Association in Canada and Ekran Toronto’s Polish Film Festival.
Interview by Jasia Kiersnowski