Elwira Niewiera is a Polish director and screenwriter of documentary movies corresponding to “Domino Impact” and “The Prince and the Dybbuk.” In her inventive work, she focuses totally on political, social, and cultural transformations in Jap Europe. Niewiera has obtained many worldwide awards for her work, together with Finest Documentary on Cinema on the 74th Venice Movie Competition, Polish Movie Academy Award for Finest Documentary, Grand Prix Semaine de la critique at seventy fifth Locarno Movie Competition, Golden Dove at DOK Leipzig Movie Competition, Younger German Cinema Award 2019, and the Rooster & Egg Footage Award 2021.
“The Hamlet Syndrome” (“Syndrom Hamleta”) is screening on the 2022 DOC NYC movie pageant, which is working from November 9-27.
W&H: Describe the movie for us in your personal phrases.
EN: A couple of months earlier than the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 this 12 months, 5 younger Ukrainians — Katya, Oksana, Slawik, Roman, and Rodion — have been engaged on a theatrical efficiency based mostly on the motifs of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” with which they have been utilizing to work by the traumas they sustained from their involvement within the Ukrainian Warfare of 2014-2015. Katya, Slawik, and Roman fought within the battles and discovered firsthand the horrors of conflict. Rodion is a refugee from the Donbas area and, as an LGBTQ+ particular person, fights in opposition to homophobia, whereas Oksana is a really well-known actress and feminist in her nation.
The stage is reworked right into a tribune from which they will air their grievances, share their private experiences, and discover impartial floor for private reckoning. The motifs from “Hamlet” resonate with our protagonists right here, who’ve been marked by conflict and the political scenario of their nation. Within the movie, we observe their means of returning to their very own, and infrequently tough, lives.
When the conflict began in 2014, our protagonists have been round 20 years of age. They went on to check worldwide relations, performing, regulation, and theater directing. Then, out of the blue, they have been pressured to confront points and challenges that left them in hopeless conditions. They grew to become troopers, paramedics, and refugees they by no means wished to be.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
EN: I used to be on this technology, a singular technology as a result of they have been the primary to be born right into a free and impartial Ukraine. These younger folks initiated the Maidan revolution in 2013. After then-president Viktor Yanukovych refused to signal the affiliation settlement with the European Union, college students protested, which was a large wave of demonstrations throughout the nation and led to a revolution. These younger folks skilled a political awakening in the middle of their revolt. A couple of months later, when the conflict started in Jap Ukraine, they grew to become concerned within the combat for his or her nation and have been pressured to make powerful decisions, paying a excessive value for his or her dedication.
I wished to indicate what it means to be in a conflict, the marks that conflict makes on folks, and the way arduous it’s to return to normality afterwards. My protagonists illustrate that it may possibly take years to rebuild private normality.
W&H: What would you like folks to consider after they watch the movie?
EN: I made this movie to attract consideration to the conflict that has been happening within the Ukraine since 2014. Though folks have been dying and struggling for eight lengthy years, hardly anybody on this planet appears to care. The world forgot about it, ignored it, and moved on. After we completed modifying the movie in February this 12 months, Russia invaded Ukraine and the full-scale conflict started. My protagonists, Katya, Slavik, and Roman, are in hell once more, preventing for his or her nation and for freedom.
Our movie provides viewers front-row seats to the torture these younger individuals are experiencing. At this time, the movie provides voice to what the nation goes by; we see how tough it’s to return to on a regular basis life within the aftermath. That is true for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who’ve been scarred by conflict. However we’re so used to pictures of conflict that they not transfer us. Whereas there are hardly any conflict pictures in my movie, the conflict makes its presence recognized simply by the method of the protagonists as they try to beat their conflict trauma.
W&H: What was the most important problem in making the movie?
EN: All of the occasions from our protagonists’ lives that us occurred a number of years earlier. We didn’t need to report simply interviews with our protagonists [where] they [just] shared their experiences. The largest problem was to discover a narrative thread on which the tales could possibly be informed. We determined to create a theatrical efficiency based mostly on the motifs of “Hamlet,” wherein the protagonists might deal with these traumatic occasions. The stage could be a secure house that allowed their recollections and feelings free reign, a course of wherein our protagonists might bear a deep reflection of their experiences whereas on stage.
The method of discovering the protagonists took virtually two years. We met about 80 younger individuals who fought in volunteer battalions, organized humanitarian help, or have been pressured to flee from the Donbas area. Many individuals we met weren’t emotionally prepared for such a activity. It took us a very long time to search out the correct people, who had beforehand undergone remedy and so have been able to revisiting their conflict experiences on stage.
W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made.
EN: This mission was difficult from the manufacturing aspect too as we needed to safe financing for each the theatrical efficiency and the movie’ manufacturing. Sadly, European movie foundations felt the conflict within the Ukraine was not a related matter. Furthermore, the concept of recording the theatrical rehearsal was an excessive amount of of an endeavor for a lot of movie establishments.
The movie finally grew to become a Polish-German co-production. The most important a part of the cash got here from the Polish Movie Institute. We additionally received monetary assist from the Polish-German Movie Fund, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, and German-French tv Südwestrundfunk/ARTE, and CANAL+ Poland. In 2021, I used to be additionally granted the Rooster & Egg Footage Award and the mentorship portion of the prize was an amazing assist in the method of creating the movie.
W&H: What impressed you to grow to be a filmmaker?
EN: I had studied performing earlier than I modified course to grow to be a filmmaker. In some unspecified time in the future, I felt I used to be on the crossroads between the airtight realm of theater and the true world round me. I wanted a distinct type of expression. So, I made a decision to take the step towards filmmaking.
My biggest champion and inventive mentor was Tamara Trampe, a revered and famend German filmmaker of Ukrainian origin. She had a big impact on the event of my movie profession as a result of she taught me easy methods to look, perceive, and transcend what the attention can see, easy methods to uncover deeper that means whereas specializing in the destiny of a person. It was additionally due to her assist that I used to be capable of win the belief of movie establishments, which kicked my profession off.
W&H: What’s the very best and worst recommendation you’ve obtained?
EN: There isn’t a greatest and worst recommendation for me – all recommendation might be attention-grabbing and may result in one thing constructive!
W&H: What recommendation do you have got for different ladies administrators?
EN: Make your work private and hanging. Take heed to the opinions of others, however don’t lose your personal “thread.” Discover and observe your internal voice – it’ll lead you to inform the correct story.
W&H: Identify your favourite woman-directed movie and why.
EN: I really like the work of Susanne Bier, a Danish movie director greatest recognized for “Brothers,” “After the Marriage ceremony,” and the Academy Award-winning “In a Higher World.” Her movies revolve across the topic of destiny and the merciless penalties that even the tiniest errors can create. They present folks in advanced ethical dilemmas and create a singular mixture of helplessness and compassion within the viewers.
W&H: What, if any, obligations do you suppose storytellers need to confront the tumult on this planet, from the pandemic to the lack of abortion rights and systemic violence?
EN: I’m from Poland, and we’ve got a conflict happening across the nook. Once I began engaged on “The Hamlet Syndrome,” I felt a powerful duty to talk up concerning the cruelties of conflict, particularly as a result of hardly anybody gave this battle any curiosity.
For the reason that begin of the invasion, I’ve been organizing transports with help for our protagonists preventing within the Ukrainian military: protecting vests, helmets, jeeps, drones, quad bikes, drugs for discipline hospitals, night time imaginative and prescient gadgets, and so forth. The scenario is devastating and with out an finish in sight as a result of the West has perpetually averted serving to those who urgently want it. I really feel an excellent duty, not as a storyteller, however as a filmmaker. I’m solely saying this so to think about this conflict is being carried on the shoulders of many non-public people.
W&H: The movie trade has a protracted historical past of underrepresenting folks of shade onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing – and creating – unfavourable stereotypes. What actions do you suppose should be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world extra inclusive?
EN: We have to create room for extra numerous views in filmmaking. Compared to the U.S., most filmmakers in Europe depend on state funding, and the scenario may be very difficult since state funding is interlinked with state politics. There aren’t many initiatives that assist underrepresented folks of numerous minorities. One of many few cheap exceptions is the IDFA Bertha Fund that helps impartial, important, and inventive voices from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I feel that in Europe, we have to identify the issue first in order that we will make method for a brand new funding coverage that’s much less nationalistic.