An interview with Andrzej Zulawski by Dorota Hartwich to appreciate and promote this Polish cinema
master to young talented artists today.
June 10, 2005
"Cinema Must Be As a Peacock's Tail"
In order to make young talented artists known, appreciated and promoted Andrzej Zulawski accepted to
preside over the jury of the Young Film Festival's first edition in Wrocław which took place from June, 2
to June, 4, 2005 in Low-Silesia, in Poland. Cineuropa met this Polish cinema master.
Q: The Young Film Festival which you are presiding over is open to directors who are less than 40 years
old. What do you think about your own films, those you made at that age?
A: I am truly convinced that, as said Heracle, „panta rei” – everything changes, everything evolves.
Therefore, I cannot think and see anymore as the young director who was shooting in the Polish reality
during the communist regime. I remember what were my aims; I used to try to reach them, and I think I
partly did. However, among all the films I made, there is none that I used to consider as the most
important one. A film is never finished. According to me there are no canonical films.
Q: A film can however enter history despite its director and the film itself.
A:: Generally speaking films and cinema are bound to a strange cycle. I used to love Bergman's films. I
recently invited a child to the cinema, we saw Fanny et Alexandre. We left the cinema after an hour. The
film seemed too theatrical, dull and pretentious to me. Charlie Chaplin as well. His films used to be seen
as too sentimental. People now come back to it with extreme pleasure, they take delight in seeing them
Q: You have not been shooting since La Fidélité (made in 2000). However, you wrote and published
many books. Through writing you simultaneously deprived yourself of an important expression mean, i.e
cinema and you restricted yourself to words. Is that restriction a strain on you?
A: I indeed published 20 books which have been translated in several languages. I would now really
enjoy coming back to films. But during those years, I had stories to tell, and as you know, everything
cannot be filmed and, on the other hand, everything cannot be written. Literature and cinema can get
mixed together. The text – the script – is the very basis of each film as literature is more and more using
the cinema language. Literature is becoming more and more dynamical, rapid… That's why it's falling
Q: Is the script of your next film already written?
A: Yes, it is, but I don't want to speak too much about it since it might be my last film. I am 64 years old
and I suppose it's the moment to say "stop." Filmmaking is not for old people.
Q: After shooting in France for a quite long period, you are now considering of making your new film in
Poland. Why that?
A: For several reasons, but above all because I am a Polish director.
Q: What do you think of today's Polish cinema?
A: Polish cinema is facing a big crisis. Nobody is making good films in this country anymore. Masters got
old, young people don't know how to make good cinema, they even don't get the good cinema
education anymore. Polish cinema is on its last legs. My son has been shooting his film in Poland since
two years and doesn't manage to finish it. The funding system hardly exists. Young filmmakers who fear
not to have enough money, lack ambition. In order to start their career, they have to make very low
Q: But a film made with restrictive financial means doesn't mean it's a bad film.…
A: I couldn't agree more. One can make a very good film in a room with two actors. I can see all over
the world, in countries such as Mexico or India, very good low budget films. But the case of young Polish
directors is a specific one. They close themselves up to film their close circle, the greyness of their daily
life. People do not need to see the reality of their daily life on the screen anymore. Cinema must be as a
peacock's tail. Everything must be considered : comedy, drama, children films, intimate stories, epic films.
This diversity makes cinema live. Without it, cinema will die, as proves the Polish cinema.
Q: Is there any chance of saving it?
A: I believe in young directors' potential. I indeed accepted to preside over the jury of the Young Film
Festival to back their new initiatives up. Poland is a strange country where flowers are growing even on
abandoned paths. And it will always be that way.