EXCLUSIVE: Poland’s Akson Studio, producer of Andrzej Wajda’s Venice title Walesa. Man Of Hope, is preparing a film set in the world of the Polish mafia.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, producer Jan Kwiecinski said the feature, titled Totem, will be “a very raw movie in the vein of films like Bullhead or Pusher.”

He added: “It will be made with non-professional actors, very dark, low budget, and totally different from what we are doing at the moment.”

Totem will mark the feature directorial debut of Jakub Charon, who has previously written and directed two short films, Traces and Tension. He is also a member of alternative rock group NarcolipZ and an author of two novels.

Warsaw Uprising shoot underway

Akson is halfway through its 63-day shoot of Jan Komasa’s Warsaw44 about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The $8m production is already being touted as the biggest Polish film of 2014.

Eight years ago, Akson Studio’s founder and CEO Michal Kwiecinski had proposed to the then 23-year-old Komasa that he write a screenplay about the Uprising.

In the intervening period as the script developed and financing was put in place, Komasa worked on various music videos and directed his award-winning feature film debut Suicide Room which was shown at the Berlinale in 2011.

“Jan became so obsessive about the project that he even moved where he lives in Warsaw to be nearer to the Museum of the Uprising and interviewed many of the survivors of the 1944 Uprising,” Jan Kwiecinski recalled.

“We do not want to make a pompous historical tribute to heroes, but want to tell a story through the eyes of the young generation, imagining that it would happen today,” he continued.

“Jan [Komasa] approached the characters by saying that they have the same hopes and fears as young people today, some were smart and some foolhardy, their emotions were raw because they were young.”

While Komasa has previously described the Uprising as “Poland’s own Pearl Harbour,” there has been a conscious effort to avoid a roll-call of the country’s acting elite filing in front of the camera by deciding to hire young unknowns for the film’s cast.

“The movie is structured in such a way that it will be partly like a comic book and have slow-motion sequences,” Kwiecinski added.

“It is shot in a very contemporary way because we want to interest the audiences in the form as well as the subject matter.”

Akson is still looking to close a financing gap of around $1.5m and is approaching sponsors, co-producers, sales agents and distributors to come on board.

“The universality of the story, Jan’s immense talent as a director, and high production values should lead to an audience not only in Poland but also internationally,” Kwiecinski suggested.

He revealed that the film’s music score will be composed by Antoni Lazarkiewicz, whose previous credits include Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness, and special effects created by Richard Bain (Les Miserables) and the Prague-based SFX house UPP (The Illusionist)

Warsaw44 will premiere in Poland in September 2014 at Warsaw’s National Stadium in front of 15,000 people on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising.

Akson Studio is one of Poland’s leading film and TV production companies with 20 years of experience producing films by such directors as Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski, Feliks Falk, Jan Jakub Kolski and Márta Mészáros.