A creative licence

World cinema

A creative  licence

A filmmaker is constantly in doubt. He or she has doubts about the script and whether it will be translated properly onto the screen? According to acclaimed filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi, such questions lead to creativity.

He was in Panaji, Goa recently to participate in the  45th International Film Festival of India. His latest offering, Foreign Body, was  showcased at the festival.

The Polish filmmaker is a prolific artiste who has 79 films to his credit. It goes without saying that he has written many of them. The world took note of him when his Family Life (1970) won an award in Chicago. Thereafter, his fame and stature grew worldwide.

Stroke of inspiration
What is the process of filmmaking like for him? Sometimes he finishes an entire script on a weekend. “It is like going down the hill. You cannot stop yourself. What is in the head must be put on the paper, that is the only thing in my mind,” Zanussi explains. He has finished 100 pages at a stretch.

The ace director feels that he has to finish at least the draft first, changes and improvements may follow. Though the actual writing may take less time, the subject is at a corner of the mind for days or even years.

“Sometimes it so happens that before you start writing, your ideas are clear about the film; but as the script nears completion, something different takes shape. That is why there is scope for revision and improvisation,” he says. However, Zanussi admits that unlike in his younger days, he is now open for suggestions from his colleagues and friends.

Speaking about the inspirations for his films, the filmmaker says, “Any experience in life can be inspiring.” He studied physics and philosophy and turned to films later. His amateur films won him awards and that triggered the change of career.

Zanussi emphasises that filmmaking is storytelling, so films should be wise. He feels that wisdom in art is essential. In his latest venture, Foreign Body, Zanussi has presented many view points which, at times, appear contradictory to each other; why so? Zanussi clarifies that he does not want to be a teacher.

When you take sides or present a certain view point, you take upon the role of a teacher. He prefers the audience interpreting the film. According to him, he likes to present his perception of life. Zanussi teaches films though. He is professor of European Cinema at an institute in Switzerland. He also directs operas and is active in theatre.

Censorship & more
He started making films in the late 50s, but flourished in the 70s. At that time, Poland was ruled by communists. Censorship was heavy and ruthless. Even Zanussi had to fight with them.

At times, his films had to bear the brunt of it, and Zanussi was forced to accept one or two cuts. But that, in his words, did not ‘ruin his films’. Today’s Poland is much better to work as a filmmaker, he admits.

Zanussi is considered as an ‘auteur’ not because he has penned his films, but for the treatment he gives to the story. According to many film scholars and critics, Zanussi’s manipulation of scenes and visuals often stem not from the logic of the story, but the logical thinking of the author.

In his works, Zanussi raises the perennial problem of love, death, happiness and conscience, looking at how they manifest themselves in the world today. Change (attitude wise, psychological) in human beings attracts him as a storyteller.

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