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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 24, 2002
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A Matter of Trust
October 24, 2002   
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Piotr Trzaskalski, director/co-screenwriter of the film Edi, talks to Krzysztof Renik.

The inspiration for the film was provided by a man you observed gathering trash from a scrap heap into a baby carriage. However, the literary source was provided by a 12th-century Buddhist tale about a monk who humbly agrees to raise a stranger's child. Are there not more interesting themes for a filmmaker than these?

Of course there are. Edi is a film about love, good deeds and light. It's not a film about trash collectors. What's important in this film is presenting a true story with the help of certain metaphors. The two trash collectors are a metaphor, in my opinion, of the problem of Polish reality, the question of good, the rejection of aggression and helping others, as well as the search for good in the worst and most difficult moments in one's life.

Do you believe that Edi is a story about all of us, even if its characters live on the margins of society?

It is in a certain sense the margin, but in its own way. Fyodor Dostoyevsky discovered this truth long ago: where there is darkness, there is also the potential for light and possibly godliness. Unfortunately, in contemporary Poland we avoid the idea that it's necessary to trust our fellow man. When people enter a store convinced that the clerk is out to steal from them rather than assuming he or she is honest, they're committing a fundamental ethical mistake.

Do you want to convince viewers that they should search for the good in others?

Yes. Edi is a film which should make people consider that Pani Zenia, who works in a deli and makes sandwiches with mortadela, is a potential source of good. The idea is to search for the good, and not the bad, in others. Of course, sometimes we behave badly, but this doesn't mean that we don't have the potential for good or that we shouldn't look for it. People should be oriented towards positive energy. Bad things shouldn't provoke bad answers from us. Our answer should be different. Corruption, affairs- these are not elements of reality which we should find in other people. If people stop talking about love and doing good deeds their language dies.

This is a difficult message to communicate to contemporary Poles concerned with making a living and finding shortcuts to gathering material possessions. Despite this the movie has become popular and is approaching the status of a cult film. Is this because it talks about simple truths that Poles want to hear?

I think it's because no one in this film is acting. Henryk Gołębiewski who plays Edi, despite different trials in life, is really approaching the light and goodness. Aside from this no one is wearing pants from Hollywood or Parisian coats. This is what has worked for us. Actually, I didn't really create anything great. I just want to say that the key to success in the cinema is honesty- that is, if we can talk about my film's success at all. As a filmmaker, if I'm honest, the viewer wants to meet me in the cinema and if I am false, they'll run away.

It's said that your film is an example of Polish independent cinema. What is Polish independent film? Does it exist?

Independence has always been in the personality of the artist. The person in the middle has to be independent. There is no independent cinema in Poland. There are independent artists who create independent works of art. Our independence and our freedom originate in us and not in the circumstances. Of course it's a great thing that I was able to meet a man like Piotrek Dzięcioł, who financed my film. He told me: "Piotr, the screenplay is wonderful, you have zl.800,000. Make the film. You just have to do it within this budget." I had very comfortable working conditions thanks to the fact that this rich man is also sensitive. He's a patron in the old sense of the word. A patron is, in other words, the caretaker of art. I wish each young artist could meet such a person, one that doesn't silence or corrupt the artist and who doesn't show them how to do business by arranging everything. Such a person says "do it" because it's good.

Is it hard to find these patrons in contemporary Poland?

I think that until today it was harder but now it should get easier. Edi is also designed to show young men who are writing, trying to make films or appear in them that they should try it. It's also a film which proves that friendship makes sense- professionally, personally, always.

Edi was shown at the 27th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia where it won five awards: the special jury award, the journalists' award "for finding a new voice in Polish cinema," an individual award for Krzysztof Ptak for his cinematography, an award for production designer Wojciech Żogal, and an award for the best supporting actor to Jacek Braciak.

Edi also won the Grand Prix of the 18th Warsaw International Film Festival. It is available in Polish theaters as of Oct. 18.

Director: Piotr Trzaskalski, a 38-year-old graduate of cultural studies and of the State Academy of Theater, Film and Television in ŁódĽ. He has also directed several theatrical productions for television as well as commercials.

Screenwriters: Piotr Trzaskalski and Wojciech Lepianka

Cast: Edi- Henryk Gołębiewski, returns to the screen after 20 years, hero of the youth films Podróż za jeden u¶miech (Trip for a Smile), Stawiam na Tolka Banana (I Bet on Tolek Banan) and Wakacje z duchami (Vacation with Ghosts); Jureczek- Jacek Braciak

Cinematography: Krzysztof Ptak (using his own money, he transferred the film from digital to 35 mm)
Music: Wojciech Lemański
Producer: Piotr Dzięcioł
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