Daniel Stopa writes about "Starting point" - the newest documentary by Michał Szcześniak, which will have its international premiere at 57th DOK. Leipzig film festival.

In the documentary film “Starting Point” by Michał Szcześniak there is a scene, in which everything which is important focuses: both atmosphere and emotion. In this scene, the protagonist, a young female prisoner, is confessing her sins to the priest. Such shots are usually cut during editing process, as the director feels that it is too strong, too intimate, that one should not cross this kind of a border. But in “Starting Point” this scene ideally fits the whole, which is a kind of confession of the protagonist - maybe the first one in her life - confession in her prison cell, before the director, camera, audience and Ms. Helena, sick from her childhood.

Aneta is doing her time for murdering her grandmother. Now, she is given a chance to leave the prison earlier: every morning, she leaves the prison walls to work as a volunteer in a rest home, in order to - as she says - “do something selfless for someone else.” All this time, the director observes Aneta and follows the gradual process of building contact with sick Ms. Helena, the inhabitant of the institution. Through the documentary filmmaker, camera and the elderly woman we look into an intimate and tragical story of the protagonist. How many people tried to talk to her earlier, reach her and reveal her best qualities? Probably not many.

The documentary films by Jacek Bławut (artistic supervisor of “Starting Point’) come to mind while watching the film. Aneta expresses herself thanks to relationships with other people, just like Robert Jurczyga, the protagonist of “Born dead” (2004). We are under the impression that the director, though he is not visible on screen, forms a relationships with his protagonist, creates a safe place where one can open one’s heart, trust and confide one’s story.

Thanks to this sincerity and closeness, the viewer has the impression of participating in the protagonist’s life. We get acquainted with Aneta, who gradually wins our liking, and we start to trust her and root for her. When at the end of the film, the protagonist goes to court, we all keep our fingers crossed for her and believe that it will be her starting point.  

Daniel Stopa