Q&A with Katarzyna Plazinska, Director of Experimental Short Film, Maria

Short experimental film Maria screened at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in November. The 12 minute short, directed by Katarzyna P?azi?ska, presents its audience with the internal and external forces that quietly struggle against one another in an intimate portrait of dislocation. Set between a desolate winter landscape and the shelter of a shopping mall, Maria confronts the depths of human imagination through an autobiographical, yet fictionalised cinematic experiment. Thematically and structurally influenced by the films of Claire Denis, Maria is the shifting portrait of a character in landscape. We speak to director P?azi?ska about her production techniques and upcoming sequel.

ASFF: Maria is an intimate portrait of dislocation. What inspired the story behind this experimental film?
KP: For me, a film project always begins with an image and the feeling I get from it. For Maria, I had an image of an expansive frozen landscape. Its location on a map – unknown. From it, followed the character Maria, who is inserted into a spacious winter landscape, alongside the contrasting interior of a shopping mall. The viewer is led on a journey through these juxtaposing spaces.

ASFF: The short uses minimal resources in terms of production. How did this stylistic decision impact the making of the film?
KP: My decision to use minimal resources allowed me to engage with the film’s protagonist on set, whilst also working with the camera to capture the creative acts of each unravelling moment. As a filmmaker, I scrupulously plan each frame precisely so that when in production, I can allow myself chaos and freedom in the way I work with actors.

ASFF: In your opinion, what is unique about the experimental film genre?
KP: Experimental film is such a broad category. If you look at film festival programmes, the variety of works is enormous. Perhaps its uniqueness is in the fact that experimental is not quite classifiable. If something cannot be classified, it cannot be sold in a traditional way. Everything about the genre challenges what we think about film in its traditional sense.

ASFF: As a filmmaker attending the festival, what were your ASFF highlights?
KP: I found Lisa Gunning’s masterclass tremendously inspiring – for me it was the best event of the festival. I also enjoyed the screening of Lebanese films curated by Brahim Samah from the Cabriolet Film Festival.

ASFF: Do you have any upcoming projects?
KP: At the moment, I am mixing sound for my upcoming film Solace. The film is a continuation of Maria, and features a young girl stuck in a landscape that witnesses her awakening. In the first few stages of the film, the girl is seen travelling through themes of repression, violence, and solace.

To see more of Katarzyna Plazinska’s work, visit www.kplazinska.com.

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1. Katarzyna Plazinska, Maria (2014). Courtesy of the Katarzyna Plazinska.