Enthusiastic reactions in Toronto after the world premiere, media fanfare and admiration at the Gdynia Festival. The film “The Boys” was a huge success. One can only imagine what will happen about the film after it is released in Polish cinemas.
It often happens that the festival mood in Gdynia does not reflect what actually happens to individual films after their premiere in cinemas. In short, reviewers and filmmakers feel one thing, think, and say one thing, and the audience knows the other. Dorota Kobiela-Welshman, director and screenwriter of “Peasants,” says she felt this clearly during her previous film, the famous “Twój Vincent.” At the time, industry insiders were not as enthusiastic as viewers, who immediately loved her idea of producing a high-quality film and drawing. What will it be like with the latest release of “Chłopy”?
Just look at how much interest the creators and crew of this film have in Gdynia; Editorial offices of portals, newspapers, radio and television stations located in Gdynia request interviews en masse. The seats for Tuesday evening’s screening of “The Peasants” at the Music Theater with the participation of the crew filled up quickly (festival participants use an electronic reservation system), which says more about the reception of this film in Gdynia than all the reviews combined.
Dorota Kobiela-Welchman (aka DK Welchman), who directed and wrote the screenplay for Peasants with her husband, British director Hugh Welchman, visited the Zwierciadła studio on Monday, giving us one of the first interviews at a festival. She talked, among other things: about where the idea for the film adaptation came from and what feelings Raymond’s novel aroused in her at different moments in her life. Emotions, apart from the compelling images, are this film’s greatest strength. In fact, more than just a film, because “Chłopi” is also a non-cinematic event, a perfectly conceived and executed accessible lecture or a review of art history. The creators of “Peasants” educate the audience quite realistically, but they do it in a completely painless way, in the sense that before we noticed, we already had two hours of stunning footage inspired by paintings not only by the youth of classical Poland, but also by world-famous masters like Vermeer, who His painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was the inspiration for one of the film’s opening frames.
Finally, as in Raymont’s work, the rhythm is determined by the seasons, and the color palettes, mood, and associated symbolism are also fundamental. This is the visual aspect, but “The Peasants” is of course a suggestive picture of the Polish countryside and a story of exclusion, and shows well the mechanisms that govern it. A story that manages to show young Jagna not only as a victim of ostracism who pays a heavy price for being different, more sensitive and detached. There is much more to this seemingly naive character: independence, and inner resistance, something that will not protect you from humiliation, but it will protect you from ultimate brokenness. Kamila Urzędowska, making her cinematic debut, plays this role and is wonderful to watch. Moreover, “Chłopi” is a showcase for many acting talents – including Mirosław Baka, the film’s Boryna, who is easier than ever to empathize with. As a wealthy older widower who takes young Jagna as his wife, he is no longer a self-confident, brutish and possessive person, but someone who smiles broadly because he has been doing so all his life, but there is something more behind these appearances. There are also more gems here, like Dorota Stalinska’s absolutely wonderful Jagustynka – a character who is comic when necessary, and tragic when necessary.
All of them, the film’s inhabitants of the village of Lipsi, are shown in such a way that it is easy to understand what drives them, what feelings drive them, and where their weaknesses come from. What is even more valuable is that such a huge logistical project – a super-production first recorded with actors and then painstakingly developed by a huge team of animators – was burdened with additional risks, the threat posed by the originality of the idea and the motivation of the execution. The essence of the story: it will be lost. Motives and human types. As if this were not enough, the whole thing is complemented by very good and catchy music: a mixture of different popular styles and inspirations. So you can already bet that ‘Chłopi’ will leave Gdynia with a huge haul of trophies. If that had not happened, it would have been the most surprising edition in the entire history of the festival.
“Chłopi” is in cinemas from October 13. The 48th Polish Feature Film Festival takes place from September 18 to 23. The winners will be announced on the last day of the festival during a ceremony.
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