Bartosz M. Kowalski: A Dream in the Making

Always dedicated Hanka Kastelicová, executive producer of documentaries at HBO Europe, handed me the dvd of the director Kowalski, who with his first documentary work has made one of those many Polish documentaries that shine of professionalism in camerawork, editing and use of music. This time also of the director’s ability to get close to his two main characters, Pawel and Bartek (photo), to convey their friendship and hope for the future in a social and mentally devastated environment in a district of Warsaw.

In cold bluish exterior colours the film paints the picture of the area in which the two move around. Pawel, who is a bit older than Bartek, trying to help the latter to achieve what he did not manage to do in his young life. Bartek enters a school for stunt men, the film follows his development and his many physical efforts to become good in that, helped by Pawel in rooms in ruined houses where they can train. Pawel, married, outlines what is important for him and many others in similar social situations: family and Legia (football club in Warsaw). He seems like he wants to have a father role towards Bartek, who grew up in an orphanage and not with his alchoholic parents. Bartek is the one who tells the story in this very tense and talented HBO production (yes, you sense the channel’s wish to have an action-led narrative) about a world (Bartek’s words) that is a ”fucking shitty mess”.

It seems hopeless, but the director lets Bartek turn to the audience in the closing sequence with a smile that communicates that he will make it!

Poland, HBO, 50 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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