Waves | Fale (2016) | Karlovy Vary Film Festival 1 – 9 July 2016

July 5th, 2016
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Grzegorz Zariczny;

Cast: Anna Kesek, Katazyna Kopec, Tomasz Schimscheiner, Jolanta Olzewska, Edyta Torhan

Drama | Poland 2016 | 71 min

Grzegorz Zariczny revives contemporary Polish cinema with this feature debut WAVES which draws on his experience as a documentarian and is based on the experiences of one of the lead actors. In its brevity and non-polemic style, WAVES has something in common with the early work of  Krzysztof Kieslowski who also started his career in documentaries, producing through the Munk Studio, as Zariczny has done.

Teenagers Ania (Kesek) and Kasia (Kopec) dream of being successful hairdressers and are apprenticed in a salon run by the bitter, disillusioned Mrs Szefowa (Torhan), who is also an unpleasant boss. To be fair, Ania has no natural talent, and despite her friend Kasia’s encouragement, she tries to blame her distant mother and alcoholic father (Schimscheiner) for her ineptitude in her chosen career. Kasia’s parents are loving in comparison and she is close to her mother. Ania hopes for the best when her mother announces a reunion, getting the family together for a dinner.

There are some strong performances here but this resonant slice of social realism is really brought to life by DoP Weronica Bilska whose evocative camerawork brilliantly evokes the grim post-industrial cityscape of Krakow’s Nova Huta district; the former industrial hub of this great Southern city now lies empty and neglected, the streets lined with shabby housing and high rise blocks. But strangely enough Ania’s father, a painter and decorator, has managed to cobble together a decent modern flat with furniture that Ania despises: “it’s too new and too clean” she tells Kasia, who, in turn, starts sleeping over more and more often, preferring it to the run-down hovel she lives in with her parents.

Zariczny pictures this corner of modern Poland almost on its knees; the old are nostalgic for the Stalinist past (which was no better than the present) and frozen in a static grip of negativity, whilst the young are disenchanted. What emerges is a country that has failed to reinvigorate its previously thriving industry, with the talented and ambitious seeking their fortunes abroad or in the large cities. AS


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