Dir: Jan Jakub Kolski. Poland. 2000. 104mins.
Prod co: Close Up, TVP SA: Agencja Filmowa and Agencja Produkcji Filmowej Komitetu Kinemotograffii. Int'l sales: Close Up, tel: (48) 22 851 2042. Domestic dist: Gutek Film. Prod: Witold Adamek. Scr: Cezary Harasimowicz. DoP: Arkadiusz Tomiak. Set des: Bogdan Nobel-Nobielski. Music: Michal Lorenc. Ed: Zbigniew Kostrzewinski. Prod man: Tadeusz Drewno. Sound: Andrzej Zabicki. Art dir: Michal Hrisulidis. Cost des: Malgorzata Zacharska. Main cast: Bartosza Opania, Dorota Landowska, Dominika Ostatowska, Karolina Gruszka.
Jan Jakub Kolski has won numerous awards and built almost a cult following among critics and international festival audiences with his unique visual style and almost mystical stories that exist in a world of their own. In Away From The Window he has departed from his usual practice of writing his own scripts and instead based the film on a true story about a Polish family that hides a Jewish woman in their home during the war.
Set in a small town during the German occupation of Poland, a childless couple, Barbara and Jan, agree to hide, Regina, a Jewish runaway. Forced into close quarters and spied upon by the suspicious policeman, Jodla, the couple's life becomes even more complicated when Jan begins an affair with Regina and she becomes pregnant. Barbara decides to pretend that the baby is hers, so when the child is born she takes it away from Regina, bringing the emotional tensions in the small house to the breaking point.
When Jodla finds out about their secret, Jan is forced to kill him and Regina flees. Years later, we see the couple with their marriage destroyed by Jan's alcoholism and guilt when their daughter learns the truth and seeks out her biological mother.
Darker than Kolski's other films and lacking the signature quirky humour that is part of their appeal, this film may disappoint some of his regular fans. But the strong storyline and excellent performances from the three leading actors should bring it a wider audience than some of his previous films. The hand of a master director is evident and he tells the story in an absorbing way. At the same time, the signature fairy-tale look of a Kolski film is still there in the strange atmosphere of the small town and the miniature-size Jewish village that Regina dreams about while in hiding. The sets and art design won awards at this year's Gdynia Film Festival.