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Karlovy Vary Q&A: Jan Jakub Kolski, To Kill A Beaver

Polish Film To Kill A Beaver is an intense and raw tale of a soldier undertaking a mysterious mission while holed up in an abandoned farm. There he has a torrid encounter with a young girl and it soon becomes apparent all is not what it seems.

Often dubbed “..the master of Polish magical realism…” director Jan Jakub Kolski, alongside producer Wieslaw Lysakowski, tells ScreenDailyabout his latest film which screens in competition at KVIFF.

What inspired you to write To Kill A Beaver?

Jan Jakub Kolski: The screenplay for the movie was born due to an impulse I got in my childhood – I discovered beavers living nearby. Eventually, this concept became the background for other more important ones that I came up with during the writing process. When the film was ready a hot discussion went off in Poland about a soldier, participant of foreign missions, found in a tent in mountains during winter. The whole country was following this mysterious story for over a couple of weeks. We can say that I somewhat predicted this story.   

The central performances are a marvel of intensity and passion. Was it difficult finding exactly the right actors?

JJK: I had worked with Eryk [Lubos, who plays the lead] earlier but on smaller roles – we needed to get to know each other as professionals and on a private ground. I chose Agnieszka after many castings of young actressess, film school graduates etc. She was not my favourite but at the last stage of casting she shone like none other. It was not difficult to find proper actors – looking for them is a part of this profession. You have to search until you find. Luck and sense of …hearing are also important.

How long did it take to shoot the film and how was it making the film in such a comparatively claustrophobic location?

JJK: We had a total of 36 shooting days within two months. I do not agree that this was a claustrophobic place. It is my childhood homeland, I remember its vastness, clarity, and openness. For the purpose of the film we made it dark and closed.

What does it mean to you to have your film premiering in the Karlovy Vary competiton?

JJK: I feel great about this! I love Czechs and their cinema. The Karlovy Vary festival is a serious worldwide name. It is a great honor to premiere our film there.

Wieslaw Lysakowski: I also find it a privilege, especially because a couple of months before we did not even know if we would be able to complete it. The information that the film has been qualified for the main competition is a strong and positive impulse for us and encourages us to face further challanges. We did it and I am hoping for a success.

What have you got planned next?

JJK: We have plans for a light, warm, and cheerful film. It is a warmedy. I hope to brighten up my spirit with this. And then…another gloomy thing about looking for love and a place in life.

WL: Similarly here. We are in progress of shooting a film with a positive accent entitled The Will to Live. There is another project in development called 12 Times Death, based on the autobiography of Michal Pauli, a Pole who spent six years in a tough Thai prison, where he was sentenced to death 12 times. Fortunately, he is alive, and has lived in Poland for a few years and that is why we can make a film out of this story. It will probably be a Polish-English cooproduction with Tramway Film Studio and Ealing Studios from London. 

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