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CentEast Student Report: The Warsaw Count-Down to Zero

Ola Salwa for CentEast 2009-10-21

Polish director Paweł Borowski's feature debut was chosen to close the 25th Warsaw International Film Festival.

Everyday life inspired 37-year-old Polish director Pawel Borowski, who also wrote the script for for his first full-length film, "based on observations of events which we experience in our daily life," as he explained recently in an interview with Onet.tv.

The variety and diversity of these observations influenced the structure Zero, which is composed of 24 plots. The story starts in the early morning at the cold office of a grim businessman. By just one phone call, he sets off the events, ordering two shabby PIs to follow the businessman's wife.


Now the cheating wife is in focus, then the sweaty cabbie, an upcoming porn star and her producer. The other protagonists include theparents of a sick child, an older gentleman working for a kids' charity, a Penelope-style lonely wife. They all live or work in the same anonymous city, and none are named that is mentioned on the screen. Most of them have never met, but their decisions will change the lives of the other characters.

„What I love about cinema, among other things, is its ruthlessness - it hates cheating the audiences. It is ruthless especially to me, the director, because it will immediately reveal whether I have made a crappy movie or one that makes sense. Nothing I say or explain will change that," Borowski declared during Polish National Film Festival in Gdynia last month (Sep). Although very well received Zero wasn't awarded.

The specific structure chosen by a first-time helmer is not very common in Polish cinema.
Except last year's 0 1 0 by the late Piotr Łazarkiewicz there is no other example of a contemporary Polish film debut with such a multi-layered structure and interlocking plots.

According to Borowski his work with the actors was quite unusual. "They knew they had to trust me, because I was the only one who new the entire story", he remarked. The cast comprises Robert Więckiewicz, Marian Dziędziel (both in Wojciech Smarzowski's The Dark House, showing in the festival's international competition)), AleksandraPopławska, Cezary Kosiński, Maria Maj, Rafał Mohr, Roma Gąsiorowska, Przemysław Bluszcz and Sonia Bohosiewicz.

Borowski graduated in painting and animation from Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts
in 1997. As a painter he had separate exhibitions, among others, in the Warsaw Center for Contemporary Art and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art. Before Zero he directed two animated shorts, Love Gamesation and I love You. The latter was selected for the 54th Berlinale and the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004.

After the Warsaw Film Festival Borowski's first feature will compete in the New Filmmakers section of the Sao Paulo Film International Film Festival. Earlier this month (Oct) it was screening in the Flash Forward programme at the Pusan International Film Festival.

The movie, lensed by Arek Tomiak, was shot in Warsaw and Łódź as a Piotr Drzicot production for Opus Film, one of Poland's largest production outfits. It will be domestically released on Oct 23.

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