At the UK Premiere of YUMA Premiere Scene’s Nicola Johnston and Anthony Bueno were intrigued to know more about the inspiration behind this highly acclaimed Polish film. Join us as we talk to director Piotr Mularuk and actress Helena Sujecka (Cupcake) about the western styled movie that tells the story of how necessity causes a group of boys to take to a life of crime during the unsettling transition between communism and capitalism in Poland.
Worlds Nicola Johnston
Piotr Mularuk’s film, YUMA, which he wrote with Wojciech Gajewicz, and also produced and directed, boosts the biggest ever UK release of a Polish film to date. Piotr spent over six years researching his subject matter, getting to know the people who had lived through these extremely devastating times, listening to their stories and seeing with his own eyes some of the horrors that took place. He decided to make a film and tell their story but he made the decision early on, to tell a lighter version, as he feared the other, would be too horrendous and upsetting. Many lives where affected by the fall of Communism, with most people losing their jobs and being left with nothing, they had to fight to survive, in a time of utter chaos and moral anarchy. Piotr’s story is inspired by true events.
The film follows the rise and fall of Zyga (Jakub Gierszal), a young, angelic looking, sensitive and introverted boy, who wants a better life and to take control of his own destiny. He is a witness of the complete degradation which surrounds himself, his family and his friends. He is frustrated with his lot in life and wants change, he is bored, young and ambitious with dreams that need to be achieved and fulfilled.
The film tackles many different themes, the loss of innocence, the environment in which you are born into, childhood dreams, adolescence, poverty, crime, greed and death, unrequited love and rejection, to name but a few. Zyga’s Auntie, Halinka (Katarzyna Figura) who runs the local brothel and is a mother figure to many, is a rough diamond with a good heart, but painfully disturbed and hardened by her own fate; she has a fascination towards Zyga, which is very disturbing and unsettling. He is loured by the temptation of shiny boots and new clothes, into a life of crime and destruction and at no point does she try and dissuade him. He also receives no guidance from his mother and father, who are stuck in a rut and show no signs of trying to improve or change their circumstances. The local police and even the church are in on it too, so what’s to stop him.
He soon realizes that poverty and humiliation rule on his side of the border, but when he crosses the river to the other side, it seems to him that the German’s have it all and more. He returns home with gifts for all his friends and becomes a Robin Hood character, with people looking up to him as some kind of hero and he enjoys and relishes the power that this new fame brings. The stolen Adidas trainers, make-up, perfumes and clothes soon turn into T.V’s, and expensive jewellery. His friends follow suit and join him in a life of crime, each wanting the success, independence and freedom and let’s face it fun that this life ultimately seems brings with it. However it all soon spirals way out of control, with their smug confidence, resulting in people and loved ones losing their lives. Their once angelic, fresh, innocent faces now aged; jaded and hardened by a life of danger, alcohol, drugs and crime.
The film has a strong cast, each producing honest, heartfelt and truthful performances. The direction is pin sharp, it is visually stunning and congratulations must go to the cinematographers, Tomasz Dodrowolski and Jacek Podgorski. Topped off nicely with a catchy soundtrack, the film has drama, action, love, tragedy, history, politics and humour. It is not without its flaws but these are minor things and it is a film well worth seeing on the big screen. I can’t wait to see what Piotr Mularuk comes up with next.
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