Aleksandra Terpińska • Director of Other People


“The most important thing was to translate the poetry of the verses into the poetry of the images”

– The Polish director has created a modern musical about a young man who numbs his desire for love and affection with alcohol and a meaningless adventure

(© Mateusz Nasternak)

Polish director Aleksandra TerpiÅ„ska presented his first feature film, The other people, at this year’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, rightly in the first feature film competition. With her, she created a modern musical about a young man who numbs his desire for love and affection with alcohol and an insignificant affair. We spoke to the director about the challenges she faced during the adaptation. Dorota Maslowskafrom novel to film.

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Cineuropa: Why did you to wish to adapt Dorota MasÅ‚owska’s novel?
Aleksandra Terpińska:
The author is very famous in Poland; her language is unique and I have always wanted to work with her. She came to me with the novel and suggested that I make a film of it. But when I first read the novel, I was not very happy, because I thought it was impossible to make a movie from this material. We then prepared a book trailer, a video to promote the sale of the book, and we found out what a movie could look like. We got a feel for how we could tell the story, and it gave me the courage to give it a try.

What was your relationship with the author?
She gave me a lot of space. I wrote the script myself, but she was nearby as a counselor and training partner. It was important for a reality check.

What were the most important aspects that you wanted to convey?
The novel is written in rap lyrics and nursery rhymes. There are no dialogues, no descriptions. The difficulty was to make a film from a poem. The most important thing was to translate the poetry of the verses into the poetry of images. I wanted to keep in the rap lyrics, and the same flow. The result had to look like a book and, at the same time, also be a movie, with a dramatic flow. This is why the film has a semi-musical form. Regarding the story, I wanted to focus on the characters and their struggle to find love.

Music is an essential part of the film. How are you take care of the creation of the soundtrack?
The soundtrack had to be dark and gloomy, representing the winter in Warsaw, which is very gray. The depressing atmosphere of the city had to reflect the state of mind of the characters. When I looked for the musicians, I found Auer, who makes beats for one of Poland’s most famous rappers, PeZet. He wanted to try his luck and spent a long time writing the entire musical score. Each song had to accompany a special moment and carry specific feelings and emotions. All the songs were ready before filming. The music involved enormous preparation, as the actors had to perform the songs on set and had to know them in advance.

Can you tell us more about the most important aspects of the aesthetic that you wanted to achieve?
The film had to be realistic and, at the same time, have fantastic elements. The atmosphere must have been dark, dismal, and depressing. Even in this high and chic apartment, the loneliness and the desire for love of the people must have been very present.

Does the fact that the film revolves around Christmas have any special meaning for you?
The book was already revolving around Christmas. The post-Christmas atmosphere is an important component: it is a time when there is a certain sadness that predominates. Christmas is over, and with it all the good things that go with it. January is a difficult time for most.

How did you find your casting?
We did a huge casting that lasted six months. It was difficult to choose the actors because the rap component had to be convincing. We knew it wouldn’t be easy for actors to rap and act at the same time. I had known Jacek beler, which plays the main role, since we were students. He had already played a little character in one of my short films. He is a well-known theater actor but has not been chosen very often in Polish cinema. I think he was perfect for the role as he can convey a certain softness and gentleness in his eyes as well as in his appearance. He prepared for it very well.

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