INTERVIEW WITH MACIEJ CUSKE, DIRECTOR OF “FAR FROM THE CITY”
In “Far from the city” by Maciej Cuske an idyllic atmosphere of a village and the passion of creation are combined with a reflection of growing up, related to the very first question asked of himself and then of the world. Bolesław Racięski has spoken to the director about the documentary.
In “Far from the city” by Maciej Cuske a group of boys (including Staś- director's son) go to the countryside to make a feature film. The protagonists have a lot of ideas like the appearance of a mysterious murderer, a dying land owner and even a loathsome monster attacking an 'innocent as a lamb' old lady. The boys, freely swapping between the roles of camera operator, director and actors, bravely grapple with a film medium, putting consecutive ideas into life. In their spare time they talk about a future life (one wants to be a Hollywood director, another successful lawyer), exchanging thoughts on reality, sharing their doubts and hopes.
Once again, after “Remember the Sabbath day to keep holy”, you turn the camera on a member of your family. Where does this decision come from?
Maciej Cuske: This is not a film about my son, rather one about a small group of friends, typical today's boys. This film was a return to my own childhood, to the summer I once lived through. I was trying to remember that moment, when I started to seriously ponder about life for the first time. I thought Staś and his colleagues are a brilliant excuse to tell all about it. The fact that for some time now they are making their own amateur films, inspired me to take them on holidays to a far-away place without television, internet and to encourage them to play and work together. I am pleased that I managed to capture this particular moment of their life.
I can imagine that Staś is used to having a dad “tooled-up” with a camera, but how did the rest of protagonists react to the perspective of being filmed?
M.C.: A bit like all previous protagonists of my films, so it wasn't that easy overall, especially in the beginning. Or maybe it was a bit more difficult? Four boys in front of the camera, a grown-up dad of their friend during rather intimate discussions - it made a situation special. Often it started with a silly laughter, sometimes with an airy pretending of naturalness. I was waiting until all of it would settle down and, at some point, I was turning the camera on. I was surprised that when they started to talk about serious issues, they were forgetting about me entirely, at least until they didn't run out of the subject.
In “Far from the city” you are talking with protagonists and other residents of the village from behind the camera. However, at the end of the film, you mark your presence in an unconventional way - asking boys to repeat one of the scenes from the arising documentary. It comes out as no surprise that there are times when documentary makers happen to interfere in what they capture, but where does a decision to use such a technique come from?
M.C.: In fact, I didn't want to give myself up. And I didn't use my person in the editing for a long time. However, at some point, I tried to use these accidentally recorded fragments juxtaposed with my reactions. I've realised that they add some meaning to the film. Thanks to them, I stopped pretending that it was me who took the boys on holiday and that there was a particular aim. I wanted to teach the boys something, I wanted them to live something through. It's true that using this procedure I was discovering the process of making a film; I show my slips, comments to protagonists during filming the scenes and, towards the end, even influencing their behaviour, but it is an indication of my honesty. The film is being made exactly in such a way, and a slow unveiling of this mechanism, I hope, won't damage the belief in authenticity and honesty of the protagonists.
At some point, the boys talk about their planned film stating that "it won't be a documentary for sure." Are you not seduced by an idea of directing a feature film? After all, you are accredited with one already- filmed together with Marcin Sauter 'What do you think about it, Galuszko?"
M.C.: I hope that I will be able to make documentaries already revolving in my mind and those still awaiting me. Shooting a documentary reminds me of an independent production. I've got a micro budget and a small crew to help around, I try not to allow anyone to impose anything on me. I feel good with that, although I am writing a feature based on it. Besides, together with Marcin Sauter, we want to revisit out teenage adventure and collaborate on another film about ourselves over the years, when we were twenty-years-old.
Maciej Cuske was interviewed by Bolesław Racięski.
(Translation by Aleksandra Kaplon)