Piotr Stasik is a facinating, independent voice on the Polish film arena. We spoke to him on the topics of love, freedom, New Yorkers and Europeans – and his recent essay documentary 21 X New York.

Did you plan on filming the search for love when you when you headed to New York, Piotr Stasik?

No, I wanted to investigate the city thoroughly, to find out whether New York is for me or not. I like the idea of retiring to New York, and be like one of those crazy guys roaming the streets.

Did you find love there yourself?

«Yes, I did have a relationship!»

It’s your turn to be the interviewee. Tell me more!

«I started a relationship with one of the film’s characters.»

Do I have to guess who it was? I don’t think I can.

«Try!»

Please give me another clue.

«No. I might tell you at the end of our conversation, or I may not.»

OK, fair enough. Did you know from the start that the film would be about relationships, love and obsession?

«Well, first I tried to make the film be about freedom. Because I believe people in New York are more liberated than Europeans. I thought it would turn into a film about how you show on the outside how you feel inside.

Fascinating – because my experience is that Europeans are more genuine. Perhaps it is culture or tradition, but Americans appear very friendly without necessarily seeming genuine. If a big city American says he will see you again, you should not necessarily take it seriously.

«Yes, I also experienced these types of second meetings. They were not really that interested in seeing me again. I really wanted to meet them in their homes, so I sent them links to some of my films. And then they opened up the door to me after all. It became my way to achieve their confidence.  I didn’t have much time, as I had to shoot 50 characters in order to get 21 good portraits. So I was only able to meet with a character up to three times. »And you filmed them guerrilla-style – without asking their permission – on the subway, only afterwards contacting them and asking for an interview?

 «I knew it would be impossible to conduct any meaningful conversations on the subway – but in their homes it would work. »

And did you always manage to get invited into their homes?

«Nearly always – maybe around five percent didn’t want to let me in. I thought it was an interesting experience as a film maker – I didn’t know what would happen at the end of the film. It was also interesting for me personally, because after one month I felt like I was in hell. I wanted to get away, but I didn’t have enough money so I had to stay. But then it hit me that this maybe was a good thing.»

Why hell? Because the stories people told you were so depressing and gloomy?

 «Yes. Some of the stories were hard to take. It was also difficult because I was together with them and felt like one of them, but I thought it might be good for the film – sometimes when something is difficult, magic things can happen. Something you are unable to imagine, something surprising from the sub consciousness.»

 

See the review also.


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