Young Culture

I like my characters

Talk with a graduate of direction at University of Silesia, Krzysztof Kieślowski Radio and Television Faculty, watchful observer of surrounding reality and multiple prizewinner.

I've read that your master's thesis isn't done yet. So I won't ask about it as we have holidays. Does Mr. Kuba Czekaj have a moment to rest in August?

Luckily, I have work. I can't stop thinking that I rest too much, I'm lazy.

You're a winner of multiple prizes a lot of people creating cinema can just dream of.

Which one has the biggest meaning for you? Do you have personal feeling for any of them?

I treat prizes and awards the same. They keep  me thinking that it was worth to devote myself to the film, that what I do makes sense, is interesting. I must admit that very often they make me feel perplexed. I feel better when I'm criticized – it motivates me for work better than receiving prizes in the limelight.

How long do you wait for the idea that brings such reflective productions like yours?

The ideas come and go. Work begins when I sink into one of them for longer, when it comes to my head with the beginning and the end, has a title –  that's when I realize that one day it'll become a film. Otherwise I throw it away.

I have the impression that your films are very poetic, "rough" and "sore" at the same time.

Are you inspired by literature?

I'm inspired by all the things that are emotional, nagging, remaining in heart. For quite some time now, I've been impressed by a book "White on Black" with short, modest in words, autobiographic short stories by Ruben Gallego. It's a story of small boy raised in Soviet orphanages. I'd like to film it one day.

In the world of your characters the truth blends with lie, honesty with hipocrisy. Nothing's one-dimensional. You create the world which tells about the surrounding reality. Do you see yourself as a perfect observer?

I try to be reliable, honest and engaged. My approach to cinema requires it from me. I usually make films about things I don't know. Every time I have to do a lot of work to make what I show on the screen look like my personal story. If it works like that, I can talk about success. I've understood that when people after watching the films asked me whether I had been an obese child, whether my father had worked in jail.

There's no need to be afraid of the dark room, Jowita Budnik photo. Michal Łuczak

Do you change the surrounding world into words? Do you absorb the stories you hear?

I do, like a sponge, I love it, I eavesdrop, I even record them!

Word "mystery" is very common in your films.  Kids have secrets, but also adults are hiding the truth.

So is the film an opportunity to express lack of ability find out about the reality? Is it an opportunity to express the limits of human knowledge?

I love secrets both in life and film. Attempts to read them intrigue me, the mechanisms and problems their confidants have.... By creating films I learn about the world. Lately someone described it as film empiricism.

I have the impression that some of the children characters are the exemplification of ancient topos puer-senex. Brzucho from "Twist & Blood" - 11-year-old boy is prematurely experienced with the cruelty of the world.

Fact. Kids may be cruel, but in your film suffering is unusually treated…

People believe that kids' dilemmas – if they even have them – are less important. We forget fast that unimportant worries were veiling our whole world.  Brzucho besides "kid" dilemmas struggles with depression and auto-aggression, typical problems of adult people. The reality is changing. Protection we used to have in the past doesn't protect us anymore. We share with kids the same torments, though the range is different. 

It may sound like a cliche, but have you got your "favorite" character? Someone who is the closest to you? Do you give your character a least a bit of yourself (and I'm not talking about work, time and patience)…

I like all of my characters – ugly, beautiful, small and big. Even if they do wrong. I always try to understand them, give them what surprises me, hurts, makes laugh and touches.

In your opinion, what are the difficulties connected with the beginning of artistic activity of young creators in Poland?

I guess our situation is good. Studio Munka offers programs for creators of any field of film, Polish Film Institute treats debutants in a special way. For me the biggest challenge is what you want to tell. Debut is a trust someone puts in you, great responsibility and chance which may not occur ever again. You have to be serious about it, be sure that such film has to be created.

There's no need to be afraid of the dark room, Jowita Budnik photo. Michal Łuczak

Do young  students of film schools in Poland support each other (do they talk about fundraising or things like that)?

Of course. Next to the lecturers they are the first spectators and critics. We help each other on the set, during the edition. I think that it's the school where you find friends for life. And since financing system is clear and widely available, there's no need to look for advice. Everything's within your hand.

What's the meaning of "enterprise in culture"?

It's a joint between art, knowledge of business rules and public relations. It's a test. How would you describe the activities that aren't aimed at instant profits but promote authors who have something interesting to say.

What are your plans for the future? 

I work on the script for a feature film

Thank you very much

Thank you

Magdalena Skrzypczak

Kuba Czekaj – director and scriptwriter

Born in 1984r. in Wrocław. Graduate of direction, certificate of completion of University of Silesia, Krzysztof Kieślowski Radio and Television Faculty in Katowice, 2010, and Feature Program at Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Warsaw, 2011. Scholar in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 2011, 2009, Young Poland program. Winner of the second edition of Honor of Rector of University of Silesia for active students and doctoral students.

Twist & Blood / 2010 / Short film 

There's no need to be afraid of the dark room / 2009 / Short film
Boredom / 2009 / music video

no 67 January 2013

theme of the issue:


Check the archive

From editors

Fast ride without popcorn - interview with Sławomir Fijałkowski - Maciej Mazerant

Directed by Jakub Czekaj

Film and mimesis - Artur Zaguła

Career in Culture
The Internet gives freedom - interview with Dawid Marcinkowski, director of Sufferrosa - Daria Głowacka

Culture Industries
Idea is the most important - interview with Olgierd Cygan, the initiator of Filmteractive - Daria Domańczyk

Young Culture
I like my characters - interview with Kuba Czekaj - Magdalena Skrzypczak

Self-presentation - Sergiusz Wasilewski

From Lascaux to series on-line - Arkadiusz Biedrzycki

On the Margin
X, y, z... - Agnieszka Furmańczyk