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SXSW Women Directors: Meet Zuzanna Solakiewicz – ’15 Corners of the World’

SXSW Women Directors: Meet Zuzanna Solakiewicz - '15 Corners of the World'

Zuzanna Solakiewicz graduated from the University of Warsaw before going on to study directing at the Sam Spiegel Film & TV School in Jerusalem. She has completed an internship at the Lodz Film School and written an array of historical and anthropological essays. Her shorts and documentaries have been successfully presented at many international film festivals. (Press materials)

15 Corners of the World” will premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival on March 15. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

ZS: “15 Corners of the World” is an attempt to hear the vision of
Eugeniusz Rudnik’s music. He revolutionized the idea of music itself with a
pair of scissors and magnetic tape. As part of the legendary Experimental
Studio of Polish Radio, he revealed hidden value in rough and rejected sounds
long before the rise of the DJs. Following the rhythms of architecture, the
human body, and the throbbing pulse of nature, we discover a new reality. We
touch the sound.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

ZS: In my documentaries, I focus on a particular kind of
character. They all live in a world that they have created from their
imagination and/or intellectual pursuit. It’s the drive to constantly seek
and admire the unknown that brought Eugeniusz Rudnik’s tracks to life. He is a
truly hilarious and intelligent guy and a guru of Polish experimental music.
For Rudnik, the sound is a piece of physical, magnetic tape that can be touched,
cut, and spliced together with other tapes.

Very often in film, we somehow place priority on the picture,
and sound seems to play a supporting role. We are so used to perceiving the
world around us through our eyes. I’ve always wondered: What would it be
like to make a film that places priority on sound, rather than the image?
What would it be like to make a film that interprets the music in order to
capture it in the picture?  What would it be like to show the sound? And
that’s how the idea of “15 Corners of the World” was born.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

ZS: The first thing I did was edit the music and the sound of
the film, and only after that did I start working with the cinematographer
Gregory Zvika Portnoy. Usually the first thing you work on is the picture, the
narrative, and the dialogue and then comes the composer, who creates the score. And
it never fits exactly: you almost always fade in and fade out your music
tracks. You use pieces of music to fit the picture. With our film, we worked
the other way around — we adjusted the images to the audio track. It was
challenging but worth of effort.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

ZS: “15 Corners of the World” is a film about music,
experiment, and the search for the impossible through sound. It is about the
impossible idea of going beyond oneself, one’s own culture, and about the huge
desire to leave — if not leave the culture entirely, at least go into the
margin, the border crossing, and declare, “I want to go abroad!” 

The dream
destination would be the 15th corner of the world. After watching
the film, I want people to feel an urge to create, to risk or experiment, or
at least to feel a pleasant shiver at the thought of the unknown. I want to arouse
the viewer’s interest, for them to understand and experience the contexts, to
“see” the sounds.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

ZS: If you have the freedom to create, create! If you don’t have it, fight for your rights.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

ZS: I had no money when I started making this film, but what I did have was the help of my friends who were involved in film-production companies and the NGOs’ activities. Thanks to their personal and institutional support, I
reached the stage of development of the film. It was then that I met our producer, Marta Golba/ENDORFINA studio, and we continued the fundraising together. She
became the leading producer on the film, and our co-operation led the film to
the end.

In Europe there’s a system of public film funding, so the first
source of donation was the Polish Film Institute. After that, we managed to get all
kinds of cultural institutes and regional film funds on board (National Audiovisual
Institute, National Centre of Culture, Institute of Adam Mickiewicz, Mazovia
Film Fund), as well as the Polish TV Culture channel. The sound post-production was possible
thanks to the involvement of our German co-producer Erik Winker/HUPE film and
the German fund Film and Medien Stiftung NRW.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

ZS: First, “Vagabond” by Agnes Varda, a deep portrait of a drifting female and her ultimate need for freedom. Secondly, “D’Est (From the East)” by Chantal Akerman, a visual masterpiece with truly unique shots of such a journey.

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