Berlin film shows women emotionally trapped in post-communist provincial Poland

Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:41am EST
 
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By Michael Roddy

BERLIN (Reuters) - Director Tomasz Wasilewski says he was inspired to make a film about the emotional desperation of women trapped in provincial 1990s Poland after the fall of communism because he remembers that time through female eyes.

The 35-year-old director's "Zjednoczone Stany Milosci" (United States of Love), showing in the main competition at the Berlin International Film Festival, depicts several women who live fairly routine lives in the concrete cinderblock housing typical of the era, but dream of romance.

One of the women is married but has fallen in love with a handsome priest, another loves a recently widowed doctor and a third has fallen in love with the young female aerobics teacher who lives across the hall.

Wasilewski said on Friday after a press screening that while the politics of that time were turbulent and exciting, people's personal lives and society were changing in different ways.

"I remember some portraits of people and sensations and emotions from that time, and I experienced actually that time through the eyes of women, the whole transformation and all the changes that happened in Poland," Wasilewski said.

That was in part because like many Polish men, his father went abroad to work when the Iron Curtain came down, leaving the young boy with his mother and older sister. "So the whole period of transformation I saw through their eyes," he said.

The parts of the main women characters are played by Polish theater actresses, which helps in a movie that is divided into vignettes - each of which could be seen as a short stage play.

Julia Kijowska plays Agata, whose love for the young priest is so all-consuming that she spies on him in a shower and tells her husband after making love that his hands are sweaty and he shouldn't touch her.   Continued...

 
Director Tomasz Wasilewski attends a news conference to promote the movie 'Zjednoczone stany milosci' ('United States of Love') at the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany February 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Stefanie Loos