WOMEN FROM ŁÓDŹ
Cinema is still full of prejudice and discrimination, things which the world should have got rid of a long time ago. They are still very real and visible for racial minorities and women and the protagonists of films are usually white men. If women appear in films, they are often in the kitchen or in the bedroom. The #metoo campaign and the selective policy of award giving prove that the film industry is still not free from this issue.
In 2010, Barbra Streisand presented Kathryn Bigelow with the Academy Award for Best Director, the first woman to win in this category at the 82nd time of asking. When she did so, Streisand said: Well, the time has come. Now the winds of change are blowing and in Poland too. Changes are visible already at the start of a filmmakers' career, during their education. The year 2017 was marked by the display of real talent from two Łódź Film School graduates - Jagoda Szelc and Marta Prus.
The feature debut of the former - Tower. A Bright Day produced by the Indeks Film Studio which is owned by the Łódź Film School - was one of the revelations of the Polish Film Festival. The film was compared to works by Lynch and von Trier, while Jagoda Szelc received the awards for best directing debut, screenplay and discovery of the festival. Apart from that, she received Polityka's Passport - one of the most recognized cultural awards in Poland.
Marta Prus says she chose the school in Łódź for its reputation and prestige. During her studies she was already a promising artist, taking part in extracurricular activities organised by the school and interested in the issue of exclusion, returning to normal life, adapting to society. Prus recalls that the school gave her the confidence to make movies, but also made their production possible and allowed her own artistic growth. She also emphasizes that she could always count on her lecturers when she needed help. Her student films Hot and Cold, Talk to Me, Eighteenth Birthday and Vakha and Magomed received around 30 awards and special mentions. It is therefore not surprising that her first feature documentary, Over the Limit, produced by Telemark Sp. z o. o., was well-received during the 30th edition of IDFA. The production took many years and demanded exceptional determination. The filmmaker needed to gain the trust and agreement of the characters while dealing with a generally unwelcoming environment. The film tells the story of a rhythmic gymnast, Margarita Mamun, who won a gold medal in Rio in 2016, while portraying the world of Russian artistic gymnastics and showing the universal truth that on the way to perfection you not only have to beat your rivals but also overcome your inhibitions. This led Variety Magazine to include Marta Prus on their 10 Europeans to Watch 2018 list. Today, Marta Prus is doing her PhD.
Marcin Malatyński, Head of International Relations, says the school does not offer any feminist or gender courses: We profess artistic freedom, all students decide by themselves what they want to talk about and how they want to do that. I think that the School gives to women what it gives to men: a good film education and a chance for artistic and personal development. The year Marta Prus began her studies was a breakthrough as the directing faculty admitted 4 women, which means they took half of the places available to Polish students (before, the majority were men). Today, 470 of the students are women and 391 are men. Hopefully it will lead to burying the myth of women being emotionally weaker than men and, as a result, unable to make films and win festivals. And, perhaps in the near future, the Łódź Film School will not only be "the school of Wajda and Polański", but "the school of Wajda, Polański, Szumowska, Szelc and Prus".