‘With 28 credits to his name since starting out in 2000, Marcin Koszałka is easily one of the most successful Polish cinematographers working today. Known within the industry for his all-rounded interest and involvement in the production of his films, he is often also credited as writer and director, and at times editor. His hands-on approach along with his meticulous attention to detail have made him a highly sought after collaborator. Koszałka has worked with Borys Lankosz on The Reverse (2009), Jacek Bromski on Entanglement (2011) and most recently with Michał Rosa on Happiness Of The World (2016). So far in his career most of his auteur work has been short and full length documentaries, all of which, to at least a certain extent, deal with the sad truths of life, and learning to live with them. His three shorts including Such A Nice Boy I Gave Birth To (2000) about his relationship with his parents as well as Till IT Hurts (2008) concern themselves with one of his recurring themes: the often irreparable damage that an upbringing can have on a person. His main subject however is death and its omnipresence within life, highlighted here in Declaration Of Immortality (2010) and User-Friendly Death (2007). So if you haven’t already, dive into Koszałka’s macabre world. You might find it strangely soothing.
‘Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth to’ (2000, 25 mins, Polish with English subtitles)
Koszałka’s first credited piece is a short-documentary about his own home life. At the time of filming he was living with his parents who would verbally abuse him everyday. The director is a self-proclaimed neurotic, giving the full credit for this to his upbringing and home life. He went on to make two follow-up documentaries on the subject It Will Be All Right (2004) and Let’s Run Away From Her (2010) creating his own type of therapy through his career. The film won several awards at the Krakow Film Festival and Prix Europa.
Till It Hurts, 2008, 24 mins, Polish with English subtitles.
An in-depth look at the relationship between a 53 year-old psychiatrist and his mother whom he lives with. After years of life together without any outsiders, he meets a woman and falls in love, creating a rift between him and his mother who is unwilling to let go of the way life has been. It’s a touching look at familial love, how unshakeable it can be and how emotionally abusive too. The tragicomedy won several awards including the Golden Dove at the Leipzig DOK Festival.
Declaration of Immortality, 2010, 29 mins, Polish with English subtitles.
In this documentary Koszałka looks into the life of one of Poland’s most renowned mountain climbers ‘Mad’ Piotr Korczak. The interviews take place around the time the great mountaineer is coming towards the end of his career, painting a portrait of a man of ever-strong spirit, and yet an ageing body. It’s about the quest for immortality, and coming to terms with the fact that it can never really be achieved. The short documentary won several awards including the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.
User-Friendly Death, dir. Marcin Koszałka, Poland 2007, 69 mins, Polish with English subtitles
In his full-length documentary, Koszałka takes a look at the people who work at a funeral parlour at Kedzierzyn-Kozle and a body incineration centre in Czech Ostrava. The film shows what actually happens to human bodies after death, while highlighting the normalised, disaffected way in which the employees go about their morbid jobs. At the end of the day business is business, and clients need to be kept happy. It was nominated for the Best Central and Eastern European Documentary award at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival.’ (ICA)