Tenants, dir. Klara Kochańska│I remember reading a New York Times piece that qualified the Łódź Film School in Poland as “a school with a sense of place” and wondering about its many motives and clauses. Fortunately now I can finally fathom the almost cult status that has long been attached to the school and its talented offspring. Klara Kochańska and her short film Tenants is not only just one more example of skilled artistry scrapping on Łódź’s contribution, but it complements my resolute notion that the art of storytelling cannot be forcefully taught and should instead be conducted through one’s filmmaking persona with a demanding posture.
Tenants and its creator ought to be on everyone’s radar. The film follows Justyna who, after buying a house at an auction from a bailiff, finds herself building a fortress of her own inside one of the rooms when the previous tenants- an old woman, her disabled daughter and their beloved cat- refuse to move out. With a fresh approach to the regular poignancy Poland has proven time and time again they know how to get across to the big screen, we take a closer look at a vivid realism that alternates between the house’s claustrophobic candle-lit warm tones and the breathable greyish undertones of any other space presented. Yes, it is still as eerie as expected, but no longer soaking in the melancholy one attributes to the country’s cinematic trademark.
Thus, by going over the story of a young woman who practices law for a living and sees herself debating the rules of sympathy before those that are preached by a court of law, Kochańska evokes a type of frustrating ghostliness that is as thin and obstructive as the glass door dividing the tenants’ worlds. Through it, she manages to remove the objectification of the subject matter and turn it into a whole body that lives correlated to the various slopes of social psychology that speaks volumes in the aftermath.
With supreme performances from both lead actresses, the morally conscious enactment is then mostly devised to wake up the willingness to admit that compassion travels heights farther than reasoning and, by doing so, provide its audience with a crude confrontation between the universal language of being and the individuality of existing. Furthermore, the filmmaker, who gently maps out the pathway towards the ambiguous land of society’s paradigms, enables us to bestow her film as an essay of self-perception without falling into disfavour, ultimately making this short resound well over its running time.■
│In cooperation with│
Tenants / Lokatorki│ Director: Klara Kochańska│ Screenplay: Klara Kochańska, Kasper Bajon │ Camera: Zuzanna Kernbach │ Editing: Barbara Fronc │ Music: – │ Cast: Julia Kijowska, Beata Fudalej, Diana Zamojska │ Producer: Marcin Malatyński │ Production Company: The Polish National Film Television and Theatre School │Country: Poland│ Year: 2016│ Running Time: 30 min.│ International Sales: Indeks Film Studio │ Festival: Karlovy Vary IFF 2016│