EKRAN 2017 Day 3: Amok & Spoor Director Kasia Adamik
Kasia Adamik is one of the hottest names in Polish cinema right now. And there is no doubt that she is busy! The filmmaker and former storyboard artist has two films in Ekran – Toronto’s 9th Polish Film Festival, the dark murder mystery Amok, as well as, Spoor another murder mystery which she collaborated on with her illustrious mother, Agnieszka Holland. Spoor is also Poland’s contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. The Holland-Adamik-Mother-Daughter directing team are also currently working to produce the first Polish language original series for Netflix.
Here at Ekran, we were fortunate enough to have met Adamik at the 42 Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia. There Adamik won best director (along side Holland) for Spoor.
On the helm of screening Amok (Wed. Nov. 8 at 630pm) and Spoor (Thu. Nov. 9 at 900pm) at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles, Adamik took time out of her busy schedule to answered a few questions for Ekran.
EKRAN: You were exposed to filmmaking at a very young age. Did you always want to direct or did you ever aspire towards a different career in the past?
KA: Initially, I did not want to direct. This is because I was seeing it first hand at home and exposed to how much work and stress the job entails. As well, I was very shy and lazy and I did not think this was the job for me. But I always was very attracted to the visual aspect of it and I loved films, telling stories and imagining worlds. So I decided to become a comic book artist. This was early on in my life around the time I was 8 years old.
EKRAN: So then how did directing come to be? When did you make the decision to direct films?
KA: I pursued my comic book idea diligently. I went to an art high school to study comic books in Bruxelles (Belgium). After I graduated I needed a job and that’s when I started to work as a storyboard artist. First with Agnieszka (Holland) and then I branched out to a lot of different productions. It took years before I got the opportunity or even the idea to direct. I jumped right in and very quickly directed my first feature film ‘Bark!’
EKRAN: It has recently been announced that you and your mother (Agnieszka Holland) will be directing the first Polish language original series for Netflix. Can you tell us what it’s all about? When do you begin filming and when is the show going to air?
KA: Not really. I can’t give too much away. What I can tell you is that we will begin filming in January and the series will premiere in the Fall of 2018. It’s kind of a spy thriller in a parallel reality where the Iron Curtain never fell.
EKRAN: You collaborated on the film “Spoor” with Holland. The film touches on many contemporary issues in Poland such as animal rights, patriarchy, religion, the environment, etc. What I find most interesting in the film is the main character, Janina (Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka). She is a very compassionate and empathetic woman. Extremely intelligent, a retired physicist who works part time as an English teacher for young children. Janina is looked at by the leader’s in her town (priest, mayor, police) as crazy because her beliefs, especially that in astrology. Does this reflect Poland today? Do you think that more people in Poland are stepping away from traditional forms of spirituality? If yes, why do you think so?
KA: I think the film shows mostly the deep division in how we see and perceive the world. About how as a society we treat the weak and elderly (especially elderly women). About how the frustration of not being seen can turn into anger. And this became true for us at the time we were making this film (which took a very long time). It all became very political. Somehow it became about this division. And the ruling political party, once it got to power it immediately attacked ecology and women rights, as though to prove us right.
EKRAN: Your feature film “Amok” (also based on the novel of the same name) is a true crime story about a narcissistic murderer in early 2000s in Wroclaw, Krystian Bala (played by Mateusz Kościukiewicz). The police detective in the film (played by Lukasz Simlat) becomes disturbingly obsessed with the killer, especially while investigating the book (“Amok”) which was written by Krystian Bala. What is it like directing a film with such a dark subject matter and characters that are based on real life? How do you remain balanced when directing such a dark story?
KA: Well the film is more of a take on the story of Bala rather than a book adaptation. But to answer your question, I am actually a very happy person in real life. It is true that I like dark stories, as well, I am attracted to dark tortured characters. Maybe it’s like therapy for me. Maybe that’s where I can let all my darkness go and grow. But what I like most is to show the complexity of my characters and their choices, dark or light aside. Also to leave something for the audiences to figure out on their own. Not to answer questions but to ask them.
EKRAN: Did you read Amok? From what I gathered from the film, the book it is fairly disturbing.
KA: Yes of course I read it twice, picked the passages that are featured in the film. Not a recommended read.
EKRAN: If there is one message you want your audience to understand after watching Amok, what is it? Why?
As I said I try to understand all of my protagonists, none are good or entirely bad. They are complicated human beings with complicated emotions and there are complicated reasons behind their actions. I think we have to understand that our reality is more complex than black and white.