It looks like Katarzyna Rosłaniec and Magdalena Berus cannot work without one another. It's a lucky thing for the fans of painfully honest and unpredictable cinema, one that doesn't compromise. Right before the cinematic release of 'Satan Said Dance,' planned for May 5th, we ask the duo about the electric manifest of a generation.
Magdalena Berus and Katarzyna Rosłaniec
źródło: Ewa Ferdynus

Paulina Januszewska: 'Satan Said Dance' like 'Mall Girls' and 'Baby Blues' before, takes on the subject of the darker sides of youth and the pains of growing up. Some critics said that as a director, 'Katarzyna Rosłaniec cannot grow up.' What is drawing you as a filmmaker, and as an actor, to the lives of young people.

Magdalena Berus: You could say that at my age, I don't really have a choice. In Kasia's film I played somebody a bit older than myself, but it's still a role of a young woman. I think that I learned a lot about growing up while making 'Baby Blues' and if I'm honest, I would like to play older characters now.

Katarzyna Rosłaniec: I'm fascinated by the enthusiasm with which young people act, because every first in their lives is very intense. I remember the first time I saw Van Gogh's paintings with my own eyes – I thought I'd go crazy with happiness. After the tenth visit to the gallery, it's no longer that impressive. Youth means to me that freshness of experience that you lose with age. Maybe old people shouldn't make movies.

M.B.: Great interview title: old people shouldn't make movies!

K.R.: There's something to it though, unfortunately. We have many directors who make great films at an advanced age. But with time, despite yourself, any author burns out. I also feel that somehow, the more we know about something, the less we can do it well. It gets difficult to be authentic and unpredictable.

That constant need to explore and seek out new experiences is integral to Karolina, your 'Satan Said Dance' protagonist. She's brazen and unyielding, something that might seem undesirable but is so necessary in independent young women. Do you need to be just as uncompromising in the film industry, which still needs to catch up in opening its doors to women?

M.B.: Karolina is incredibly greedy. She was difficult to play, to understand and accept. All of her personality was complicated, so different from mine. She was hard to subdue, especially with the many nude scenes. But when I look at how we worked, I think I'm the part of generation that doesn't have that baggage of discrimination and division. I never felt like I had something to prove, or that I'm treated differently than the men around me.

K.R.: Same for me. I didn't even consider the subject until one of my collegues told me, that if the film wasn't about a woman, it'd be more popular. They said that if I had a boy for a protagonist, we'd be more touched by the scenes of alienation and the hard road to finding yourself. But if we're dealing with a chick, it's controversial cinema, it's sensitive, difficult, and subversive. It's difficult to argue with that.

Male nudity is also less scandalous than when it comes to women.

K.R.: Precisely. More than that, I remember Tomasz Raczyk talking to Grażyna Torbicka about female masturbation in cinema, and using the words 'self-rape.' What even is that?! The devil's in the details, if we're talking about a girl, it's self-rape, if we're talking about a boy, it's masturbating. When men do it nobody is disgusted, but for a woman it's undignified.

But in my professional work I have never felt that I cannot do something because I'm a woman. I'm a human being, so it seems natural to me that I have the same rights as everyone else. Though on the other hand, when I feel about film festivals submissions, say, in Venice, there might be some issues with understanding emancipated women. Those committees consist of men over sixty, who probably don't understand what we're saing in 'Satan...' Maybe if the film was about a boy, they'd look at it more kindly.

Cast of "Satan Said Dance" fot. Ewa Ferdynus

It was the case with your previous films. From the beginning of your career you have been constantly described as 'controversial.' I think 'Satan Said Dance' follows the trend, but it's not the sex and drugs that should shock us, but rather the uncontrollable pursuit of death. Do you agree with this reading?

M.B.: I'm happy you saw it that way. We rarely hear this.

K.R.: Very few people pay attention to death in the film, as if Karolina's tragedy didn't touch them at all, didn't make them think where does this lifestyle lead. But I'm not sure if she wants to die or if she wants to live intensely, wants to experience, feel, cross the borders and damn the consequences. For me hurting yourself is stronger than the conscious pursuit of autodestruction, suidicide. 'Satan...' Is a film about emptiness, lack, loneliness. It shows that without being anchored in your life, without being conscious of where you want to go, you cannot go on for long. And you cannot be happy.

'Satan...' Is a very modern take on society, or a universal tale?

K.R.: It's a film about young egoists, about people who are completely lost, living in mental separation, focused on themselves. They don't feel like making sacrifices for others, they are fixated on their own self. It's definitely a mark of our times.

M.B.: In 'Satan' you get a lot of emotions, which are universal. We see some of the most human troubles, fears, loneliness, emptiness, loss, fear of death.

K.R.: And youth with all of its universal aspects, parties, drugs – those aren't unfamiliar.

M.B.: But the ways of escaping the dark side of growing up have changed. Today we have some very destructive ways of dealing with problems.

K.R.: It's a modern take on a universal tale.

Modern, because it takes on modern social media we've become addicted to. So what's killing us now is the Instagram, not the drugs?

K.R.: No, I wouldn't say so!

M.B.: Then again, we've all heard of people who died while taking a selfie on a bridge or on a skyscraper. So social media could kill.

K.R.: And fashioning yourself into a star, into an actor (and that's what maintaining your brand on Instagram really is) 24/7, is exhausting to death. You can pay for it with mental stability, or even with your life.

Paulina Januszewska