02 Nov 2017

Film director Kasia Adamik: everything is political in Poland now 

Her childhood was far from ordinary. Daughter of Polish cinema’s power couple, she grew up in a home filled with leading artists and intellectuals. Today, a director herself, Kasia Adamik discusses her relationship with Poland.

Martyna Kraus
Martyna Kraus Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Source: Wysokie Obcasy
Film director Kasia
Adamik: everything is political in Poland now  - NewsMavens
Agnieszka Holland's autograph. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

“They were super funny and witty. They would always come up with limericks. Kieślowski had a mad sense of humor,” recalls Kasia Adamik in an interview with Krzysztof Kwiatkowski for Wysokie Obcasy. As a girl, she loved listening to her parents, Agnieszka Holland and Laco Adamik, conversations. She did not have to eavesdrop; they let her join them as they debated freely whatever was on their minds: politics, cinema, art, sex.

When she was 9 years old, Adamik’s family emigrated from the communist Poland. She grew up in France, studied comic art in Belgium and made her first film in the US. For the past 2 years she has been rediscovering Poland, which she used to associate only with long, dark days, as well as enormous amounts of food and alcohol.

It was not until she directed the series Ekipa (The Crew), that she discovered a different face of Warsaw. “I love the beginning of spring in Poland when people finally go outside. For the first time in my adult life, I live in the same place as most of my family. I drop by my grandma’s for lunch; take my aunt and cousins out for wine. The only thing is, I have to make it through December, January and February,” she tells Kwiatkowski.

Adamik believes it will take a whole generation to undo the mistakes of the current government. Thanks to PiS everything is political now, she claims.

Hatred and social divisions became our bread and butter. The overall atmosphere in the country -- discernible in politics, society and the media -- is dreadful. Politicians lie shamelessly. And worst of all, it seems that in two years PiS has squandered almost everything Poland achieved since the fall of communism.  

However, living under the past government of PO was no fairy tale either for Kasia Adamik, who publicly came out about her homosexuality in 2012: “Whenever we debated civil partnership or the possibility that gay couples adopt children, I felt like a second-class citizen. The authorities ignored the needs of my social group. Still, it was different back then. Violence was disapproved of. There were far fewer attacks on refugees or foreigners."

Adamik has no doubts about the current government’s desire to control the art world. According to her, art should provoke, puzzle and incite reflection, while nowadays it has mainly become a space of conflict with authoritarianism.

Ministers are investigating specific theater premieres and scrutinizing them for being ideologically inappropriate. The government perceives culture as a tool for consolidating their black and white worldview.

The director, who lost many family members in the Holocaust, is frightened by the return of 1930’s rhetoric in Polish public debate. “How can you be a neo-Nazi and, at the same time, adore wartime heroes murdered by the Nazis?” she wonders.

In the end, she discusses gender inequalities in the film industry and states the sad truth: Women have it tougher there than men. A few times during her studies at The Royal Academy of Art in Brussels, Adamik heard: “You draw like a dude”. She was puzzled by the assumption that girls should limit themselves to drawing princesses on horses.

Statistics leaves no room for doubt: in the US the male, white part of Hollywood is as powerful as ever, especially when it comes to large productions.

“I experienced sexism first-hand, when I was refused directing a beer commercial, because it was considered a male drink. Damn, I wish they had seen me in action at a bar! I studied in Belgium, after all,” she laughs.

However, Adamik is happy to witness more and more female directors entering the scene: “In the Polish National Film School in Łódź, on the first year of the direction faculty, there are more girls than guys. We’re clearly going in the right direction”.

Details from the story:

  • Kasia Adamik (born in 1972) is a Polish film director and storyboard artist.
  • She directed several films and series, including Boisko bezdomnych (Playground of The Homeless), Janosik. Prawdziwa historia (Janosik. A True Story) and Ekipa(The Crew). She co-directed her most recent film, Pokot, with Agnieszka Holland.
  • She is the daughter of film directors Agnieszka Holland and Laco Adamik.
  • She grew up in Paris, studied comic art in Brussels and made her first film in Los Angeles. Currently she is based in Warsaw.
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