33 Szenen aus dem Leben - Malgoska Szumowska im Interview - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen aviva-berlin.de Interviews

AVIVA-BERLIN.de im Juli 2024 - Beitrag vom 14.11.2008

33 Szenen aus dem Leben - Malgoska Szumowska im Interview
Henriette Jankow

Die polnische Regisseurin erzählt in ihrem Film eine Geschichte, die ihrer eigenen sehr ähnlich ist. AVIVA-Berlin sprach mit ihr über die Zusammenarbeit mit Julia Jentsch, polnisches Kino...

...und Frauen hinter der Kamera.

Malgoska Szumowska ist die Tochter der polnischen Schriftstellerin Dorota Terakowska und des Dokumentarfilmers Maciej Szumowski. 2004 erlag ihre Mutter dem Krebs, wenig später starb ihr Vater. Auf der Grundlage dieser Erfahrung entstand Szumowskas dritter Spielfilm "33 Szenen aus dem Leben" mit Julia Jentsch in der Hauptrolle. Die Nachwuchsregisseurin wird sowohl in Polen als auch auf internationalen Festivals vielbeachtet und nicht selten als Nachfolgerin von Krzysztof Kieslowski gepriesen.

AVIVA-Berlin: Ms Szumowska, your latest movie "33 Scenes from life" has been awarded in Locarno and in Gdynia. In Poland, you are regarded as one of the most promising upcoming directors of the younger generation. However, the movie business was not your first choice, but you started out studying art history in Cracow. What moved you to enter the film business?
Malgoska Szumowska: I think it was somehow by accident... or maybe we can find a connection with my family. My brother became a film director and studied at the film school in Lodz. After studying two years of art history I got a little bit tired of it. I just decided to go to the qualifying exams of the Polish film school in Lodz. Of course it was extremely hard to get there. 200 people applied for six spots. But I was not nervous. I said to myself: OK, let´s try, and they took me. Then I found out, that this is something that I really liked to do. It´s my passion somehow. But it was rather an unconscious choice.

AVIVA-Berlin: Those are maybe the best choices you can make in life.
Malgoska Szumowska: Yes, I think so. It´s the same with Julia. She told me that - seeing Sophie Scholl now - she had never expected to be a professional actress. For me it´s always like an accident.

AVIVA-Berlin: You studied at the film school in Lodz, which is famous for such masters as Kieslowski, Wajda and Polanski. You, yourself are often compared to Kieslowski.
Malgoska Szumowska: Which I hate! I don´t like it very much. You know, Kieslowski is a different generation. I appreciate what he did. Of course, he was a very good director, maybe not exactly my piece of cake. But the problem is that after his death there is a huge hole in the Polish film industry. They are longing for someone to replace Kieslowski. He had an international career and that´s why the Polish media, the Polish press are waiting for someone like Kieslowski. Sometimes - it seems - it´s hard not to compare me to him, not because of the style of the films but because of the fact that I start to make films internationally, with an international cast and international producers. And the next one, I will make in France as a French film, so people count one and one together…

AVIVA-Berlin: Thus, it seems that you are basically the female equivalent to Kieslowski. Polanski, Kieslowski, Wajda, they are all men obviously. It appears, that there are not so many successful women behind the camera in Poland. Why is the director´s chair is only rarely taken by women?
Malgoska Szumowska: I think it´s everywhere the same,... or maybe not. In Poland we have Agnieszka Holland, she´s very famous. Her daughter now, Kasia Adamik, just made a film and it´s a very good one. We have at least three or five female directors, but yes, it´s true, there are not so many. I think it´s because of the fact that in Poland everything happens a little bit slower than in other parts of the world. We have a very fresh capitalism. It´s only been twenty years since the communist regime collapsed and within these twenty years we fought for the economy and tried to find our way in capitalism. It was very hard for everybody. But that process somehow ends now. We have a fairly good economy and it´s getting better and better. Now we start to fight for other things. The feminists are starting to fight for women rights and there is a discussion about homosexuals going on. It´s very late of course, compared to France or Germany. Maybe that´s why we don´t have a lot of women directors but I think it will come within the next couple of years.

AVIVA-Berlin: Do you personally have the impression, you´d need to assert yourself more intensely because of being a woman?
Malgoska Szumowska: Yes, definitely. But I am not so much focusing on that problem because – to be honest – when I am making a film I am not thinking whether I am a woman or not. I´m just a director and in the crew there are about 50 people, 80 percent of them being men. It occurs very often that they try to see if you are strong enogh to be a leader. And this small fight you have to make. However, I think also male directors have to undergo the same test. But yes, for women it´s sometimes harder than for men.

AVIVA-Berlin: "33 Scenes from Life" is your second co-production with the German production company Pandora. However, the topic of your movie is not a typical German-Polish one, like for example Hans-Christian Schmids "Lights", or Robert Glinskis "Wrozby Kumaka". Why did you decide to cast the German Julia Jentsch in the main role?
Malgoska Szumowska: You know, I didn´t do any casting and I couldn´t think of any Polish actress who would fit the character because I was searching for someone who is more or less in my age. All Polish actresses in that age are very recognisable. People know them. They look more like girls, not like women and I was looking for someone who is fresh, who doesn´t know my story. That was somehow crucial. I needed someone from outside who could also look at the situation from a different perspective. So I was searching in Germany as well. I saw "Sophie Scholl" at the Berlinale and I asked my producer from Pandora if it was possible just to meet her because I really liked what she did in the film. She read the script and she said yes, it was so easy.

AVIVA-Berlin: What was working wither like, considering the fact that she does not speak Polish?
Malgoska Szumowska: After everything, I can say that it was a very interesting experience for both of us. Of course, sometimes it was very hard, mainly because of the polish mentality. We are absolutely different from Germans. Even now, considering what the Germans are asking me. To them the story in the film is not realistic. They say: "It´s so crazy, what are they doing? It´s not funny!" In Poland we´ve got this black sense of humour, we are laughing on those kind of things in the movie and we are much more emotional than German people are. For Julia, I think it was sometimes hard to work with us because we are working with the emotions, we are shouting, yelling. It´s a small psychodrama. When I was working with the actors I asked them to use the real emotions, to tell a private story. She didn´t want to do that.

AVIVA-Berlin: So does that mean that German actors are more pragmatic in a way?
Malgoska Szumowska: I think so. Julia wanted to analyse everything and that method is actually a very good one but not for this film because sometimes even I didn´t know what the character really feels, maybe even the character in the film doesn´t know. There was a kind of madness. But I think it was perfect in the end. I´ve had a lot of quarrels with Julia. But now we are really friends and that´s a perfect situation. The strong emotions we`ve had on the set with all the quarrels and arguments; I think they were good for the film too. You can feel that it´s tense.

AVIVA-Berlin: The film tells your very personal story. Thereby, the number 33 has a specific meaning. Could you explain that to our readers?
Malgoska Szumowska: It´s not so very specific. The story is very personal but of course it´s not a documentary about my life. It´s just based on some real facts. When the whole situation happenend in my life I wrote some short notes, not for the film, but just as a discovery for me: For example, I could not cry, or my mother is dying and I am thinking about what kind of trousers I want to buy. I never expected to have that kind of emotion in such a dramatic situation. In the end, I had written a total of 33 notes, based on these notes I created the story. We kept the number 33 even if there were less than 33 scenes, just to show that the structure is not a typical one.

AVIVA-Berlin: "33 Scenes from Life" is about a family and the losses, which one sustains within a family. What is the meaning of family in Poland - for you personally?
Malgoska Szumowska: Well, for Polish people family is the most important thing. But this family in the movie is not a typical one. They are much more crazy and not as ideal as Polish people want to see them. That´s why the film raised a huge discussion in Poland. Some people just didn´t understand how I could see a Polish family in such a brutal way and not romantically at all. Of course Polish families are like the one in the film. They are not so sweet, but nobody wants to see that. They want to see the picture of a traditional family that is perfect,… in the name of God, in the name of Catholicism, where everybody loves each other.

AVIVA-Berlin: Your movies are often about life and death - topics that are just as simple as they are complex. In your debut "Happy Man" the mother succumbs to a deadly disease. "Stranger" talks about growing life in the stomach of a young mother. "33 Scenes from Life " eventually deals with the loss of two beloved people. Exactly what is it about such complex, often times melancholic themes that appeals to you?
Malgoska Szumowska: Well, I finished dealing with those topics. The next film is going to be more about sex. But the background situation is that I come from a very intellectual family. Even when I was a small girl I was reading Dostojewski, Thomas Mann and listened to Johann Sebastian Bach. I grew up in a high culture. That influenced me. Everything that was not as big as death or life was not serious. But "33 Scenes from Life " is different. In Poland they are saying that someone completely else must have made this film. In this movie I am talking about dying but in a more pragmatic way, without using the big words.

AVIVA-Berlin: Your next movie is going to be a French film. Do you have anything planned with a German production company again?
Malgoska Szumowska: It´s going to be with Pandora. I asked them to join the project, so it´s going to be French, German, Polish and Danish.

AVIVA-Berlin: Well, we are looking forward to that and wish you all the best. Thank you for the interview!
Malgoska Szumowska: Thank you!

Lesen Sie auch unser Interview mit Julia Jentsch und unsere Rezension zu "33 Szenen aus dem Leben".


Beitrag vom 14.11.2008