An Interview with Anna Zamecka (Director)
The Struggling “Adult Children” in the Family
Q: What were the circumstances behind your encounter with this family, and your decision to make a film about them?
AZ: I met Ola and the others by pure coincidence—I saw Marek, the father, at the train station, and I was thoroughly charmed by him, so we spoke and arranged a meeting with his family. The truth is, I also had the experience of looking after my younger brother in my parents’ stead when I myself was a child. I call this state of “being a child yet being made to shoulder adult responsibilities” the “adult child.” From my own experiences, I’ve developed an interest in the “adult child.” So, I at first wanted to film not a full-length documentary, but a short drama on this subject. I think that, in some sense, a filmmaker heals or searches herself through her work. I also felt that way, though my family circumstances were different from Ola’s, and I didn’t bear such heavy responsibilities as she did.
Q: You were planning to film a short drama, so how did you come to film a full-length documentary of this family?
AZ: I encountered this family, and thought they were very beautiful both inside and out. I was drawn in by that beauty, and wanted to film not a short drama, but a full-length documentary. Moreover, there was an incident that led me to make this film, and that was Ola’s words. When I first met Ola, who was 12 years old at the time, I asked her, “Where is your mother? What does she do?” and she answered, “She lives somewhere else right now, but if Father renovates the bathroom, she will definitely come home.” It had already been 6 years since her mother had left the house, but Ola believed that her mother would come home. Hearing those heartbreaking words, I felt the mother—who existed within the family, and yet was not physically in the house—like a ghost. It wasn’t just Ola; they were all waiting for the mother. I remember thinking at the time that it was going to be a challenge figuring out how to show the mother’s presence in the film.
Q: What was the process like going from that point to filming?
AZ: I was very happy to film their individual traits, but even a documentary film needs a story as its core. So I spent over a year in close contact with the family, looking for that story. But, of course, I thought that if I made something up at this point, the psychological reality wouldn’t come through, so I didn’t try to build a narrative. We just talked about things like what their dreams were, or what they needed.
Q: I felt that the family’s problems were portrayed very naturally and realistically. How did you build your relationship with the family?
AZ: The relationship between us was that of director and subject being filmed, but ultimately, I think it is crucial to go beyond the film, and have a person-to-person relationship. I think it just doesn’t work if you don’t have that something that transcends words, and in our case, we had that. I was always very respectful in my interactions with the family, and I particularly strove to understand Ola’s circumstances the more we talked with each other. In Nikodem’s case, the act of having a conversation itself was difficult, but when it came to matters of the heart, I felt that we shared some close similarities. In a way, I felt some things that resonated with him more than with Ola.
(Compiled by Nagayama Momo)
Interviewers: Nagayama Momo, Akashi Moeka / Interpreter: Matsushita Yumi / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Kat Simpson / Video: Kusunose Kaori / 2017-10-10