I WOULD LIKE TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY – "DANIEL" BY ANASTAZJA DĄBROWSKA
The protagonist of the short documentary film by Anastazja Dąbrowska is twenty-something Daniel with Down's syndrome. We accompany him and his friends during summer camp. A society of people with Down's syndrome on summer camp – hearing about such a subject matter, we immediately think about people trying, at all costs, to prove to themselves, their carers and to us that they are just like the others, that they are not different, lonely, strange. In her film, Anastazja Dąbrowska manages to show something much more interesting, her protagonists do not run away from their problems, failures and weaknesses. They talk about all this, about their yearning to be close with someone, about the intimate bond. And thanks to this, they become closer to us, because each of us has to face similar problems once in a while.
In the film by Dąbrowska, summer camp counsellors do not accompany the protagonists in their lives, there are no children here who require constant care. A series of great scenes shows Daniel and his friends on the beach, how they look at their peers, not at the ones from the society, but at other girls, unknown to them. For our protagonist, the essence of happiness is being with his loved one, however, on the beach he stands aside, there is some kind of a barrier which is impossible to overcome.
There are more of these barriers, which is why we feel that the people whom we watch do not live in a soap bubble, they know about their limitations and experience them. This aspect seems to be the subject matter of the film by Dąbrowska. In the crucial conversation, Daniel confesses that he would like to life differently. It is followed by a long silence. And the author of the film remains true to these words, she does not artificially embellish the film life of the protagonists (though she could have done it). We feel that there is a boundary, impossible to cross, a boundary of the world which is inaccessible to the protagonists.
At the same time, "Daniel" is a film about true friendship. The relationship between Daniel and Janek, another participant of the summer camp, is enviable. In the world of the protagonists, there is no place for insincerity and hypocrisy, emotions are shown much stronger and experienced more fully. Relationships are based on trust, and only in such a climate, in such an atmosphere, there can be a sincere and serious conversation (about being with another person or about having children). Dąbrowska shows all these things in her short film, teaching us how to live.