" Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn"
This is a story about the power of a mentor.
It is late 2019. The great Polish director Agnieszka Holland is in post - production on her upcoming feature film CHARLATAN shot in the Czech Republic, and I am lucky enough be supported by our Australian funding body Screen Australia to shadow her work. It's so generous of her to agree, as post - production is often a time of pressure, re - working and final decisions, when you observe the subtle interactions, creative collabarations, in a way the secret sauce of an auteur's approach. Often I watch the " behind the scenes" before even the movie, but this is different, there is no camera observing the director, just pure experience. I feel I have access to a secret library of filmmaking and experience, seen through the decades of a woman's eye.
I fly to Prague and Warsaw twice in a span of six weeks to see her process. The way she sculpts her films and works with her crew.
Within the first few days of my arrival as the soundtrack is being recorded it becomes pretty obvious that she is admired and adored, not only by her crew but the everyday brushes with the outside world. Taxi drivers thank her for her films, young actors come to her for council and after long hours of post production she dedicates her time to lecturing at film schools both in Warsaw and Prague.
She is in her 70's but really she is about 28, with a heart as big as her brain. She is fierce in her determination to see fairness, goodness and equality and her Political views reflect that. CHARLATAN is her thirty something film. Not many filmmakers live in this cannon of experience. The thousands of hours in her craft have made her approach seamless and fearless and to see a woman achieve this is thrilling.
But there is something more…there is something special about her as a human being. It’s as if she is in a perpetual state of becoming. Millions births and death like a butterfly in constant reincarnation.
Later as I share a taxi with her and we talk about the Czech writer Milan Kundera ( I know I can't believe it) I reflect on Agnieszka's body of work and I feel, and tell her of her brilliance. She laughs, there is no straining for glory, or grappling with youth. There is humour, poise and a woman who knows how to assert her will without damaging the very fabric which she has created. Bloody wonderful.
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