Lasting (aka Nieulotne) by Jacek Borcuch from Poland (ISA: AP Mañana) is a Polish-Spanish co-produciton produced by Piotr Kobus and Agnieszka Drewno of Mañana Producitons. It is an emotional love story about a pair of Polish students who meet and fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare brutally breaks into their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. The film premiered in Sundance where it won the World Cinema Cinematography Award and is screening on February 8 and 11 at the European Film Market in Berlin. The half hour Q&A at Sundance gave him a view of the audience reaction which made him realize the second part about life and death, abortion as an option which is illegal in Poland, elicits a universal questioning. In his films, everyone sees a different story; discussions grow as more people watch the film and different themes come to the fore of discussions. An example is a discussion that took place about the motorcycle which the young man brings to life and which dies along the way.
This film in constructed in two parts. This was risky he knows, but Jacek made a conscious decision not to make it a classic narrative. Because it is a character study of a relationship, the first part is the male’s story and the second is the female part, dealing with life and death in an existential way. It is not just the story of a man. It is the woman who must look for answers to her questions of living with the man, becoming a mother and her answers must be made in a brief period of time. The man does not ask her about herself and she does not tell him her dilemma, so she also must decide how to act with him. They never had time to talk during the first luscious moments of their coming together; youth with emotions, black and white turn into thoughtful issues with many shades of gray. This is a story of two young people with no life experience shaping stories of unknown futures. This is Borcuch’s fourth feature. It got its start at the Rotterdam Cinemart.
Jacek Borcuch’s third feature, All That I Love, was the Polish Oscar contender in the early 80s. It played for 3 months in Poland and then went to Pusan. That was an autobiographical story in the time of Solidarity, a Romeo and Juliet story of the son of a Communist aparachnik and the daughter of a Solidarity leader. His second feature, Tulips, was timeless in that the period is indefinable; it is a tribute to Claude Lelouch. Now Jacek is 43 years old and the time demands a realistic approach. Lasting is about today for the first time.
The film’s Polish release is February 8 with 120 prints which is a large release for Poland, a country of over 38.5 million people, which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and the sixth most populous member of the European Union. The actor, Jan Nowicki is a big star in Poland and last year was a Shooting Star, the EFP’s Berlinale salute to the rising stars of Europe. He is perfect in English and German and could become a major actor. The actress, Magdalena Berus, is 19 years old. Her first film, Baby Blues, was done when she was 18. She was found in a casting call which brought 4,000 interviews. She’s a natural in this role. Months before the film, her own brother died and her grief, internalized, shows itself true in this film. Magdalena has completed two films in one year with no prior acting experience.
This film is being represented for U.S. by Traction. Its European premiere is in Rotterdam. It is being sold in Berlin and Hong Kong by Mañana, the sales and production company of the film’s producer, Piotr Kobus. No one has seen the film except in Sundance and now in Rotterdam. No screeners have been sent out. Starting his own company for selling his own films is a step toward further international coproductions, and his eye is on Latin America. He is smart in this regard.
This is the first time producer Piotr Kobus has worked with Jacek Borcuch, but it is not the last. They have two more projects. One is a Polish-Spanish coproduction about an Argentinian exiled writer who died in the 60s in France. It will shoot in Argentina in the period in the writer was just coming into prominence. It could go to U.S. Labs and Workshops in Sundance and New York. The next project is an English language project, a human story that takes place in the far, far future. It is not a technological sci-fi picture however. It is based upon two naked people on the beach 2,000 years in the future. They have been speaking with John Nein of Sundance about connecting U.S. and European sensibilities in this more abstract film, whose form has still not taken shape.
Piotr and Jacek are taking a long range approach to their ongoing projects. The working style of the company as well as of Piotr himself and Jacek are being defined carefully and with intelligence. For example for the past four years Piotr and Jacek have spent every Monday together to work out issues on the films. Lasting itself will be made available by invitation only for screening after Berlin on Cinando for those who missed it. Keeping it personal and controlled, with select invitations sent out, Mañana, a new international sales company will have all prospects lined up in a month. This company, looking to coproduce across cultures, is a company to keep watching as are the film’s director and producer.