The grand premiere of “Rezerwat” (“Preserve”), the first feature film by Lukasz Palkowski, took place on Jan. 7 in Kino Pod Baranami. Director and actors met with the audience.
The movie, with English subtitles, can be seen regularly at the theater beginning Jan. 11.
We often say that we have two Warsaws ? the one on the left side of the Vistula River and the one on the right side.
Praga is a district on the left side. A few decades ago, prudent city dwellers from the right side were reluctant to go to Praga. It was an intriguing world, but more dangerous.
But as it was in the case of the Kazimierz district in Krakow, Praga got a new life in the 1990s. Fashion clubs, cafes and restaurants were opened. “To be in Praga” started to be trendy.
However, the Palkowski film shows not a trendy Praga, but the older one. From the decrepit tenement houses and its residents, Palkowski creates a delightful, warm, optimistic story about friendship and memory.
In the movie, Marcin, a freelance photographer, comes from the trendy side of Warsaw. After a stormy breakup with his girlfriend, he has to leave her luxurious apartment. He moves to a dilapidated, old building in Praga.
There his new landlord hires him to prepare a photographic documentation of the deplorable state of the house.
During his work he gets to know the different personalities of ul. Brzeska, and it lets him look into his own life and to change himself.
Palkowski, a young director who has never graduated from a film school, won audience hearts at nearly all the film festivals last summer.
“Preserve” also won five prizes at the prestigious Polish film festival in Gdynia.
Sonia Bohosiewicz, who plays a girl called Hanka in the film, is now being hailed as one of Poland’s most talented young actresses.
During the last decade Polish cinema has faced two problems:
Trying to tell about the new reality after the fall of communism in 1989, the films hit a dead end with pessimistic, dull stories.
On the other hand, there were the genre movies, which were copies of Hollywood comedies and crime films.
Mostly, these were failures.
Of course, Polish comedies were popular, but, with the exception of a few movies, the gags in them were of low quality, especially when compared to the great comedy films of the 1970s and 1980s.
Palkowski gives a new breath to Polish cinema and puts aside the stupid gags and dull atmosphere. “Preserve” is not a masterpiece. But it is a good, entertaining movie, telling a funny, moving and also intelligent story.
In some ways, Palkowski portrays an idyllic reality, perhaps a fairy tale.
But he likes his characters and he can make audiences like them, too ? local boozers, an old owner of a photographic studio, a woman from the kiosk who knows everything about everyone, a taxi driver (some days a policeman). Ordinary, simple people.
Palkowski observes it all through the eyes of the main character, Marcin. The view is reserved at the beginning, with sympathy displayed at the end. In the era of the Internet, in this trendy world, there is another reality ? with people who don’t need web sites to communicate, who have their own rules, customs and who help each other.
The reality is brutal, sometimes primitive, but Palkowski looks into this world to find its beauty. And we find it with him.