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Three Charismatic Artists and a Discussion to Remember – A meeting after the screening of “Bird Talk”

photo: Marcin Łaukajtys

Incredible, fresh, different, experimental, rich with contexts and references – these were some of the epithets used to describe the latest film by Xawery Żuławski. The film is definitely surprising by how it plays with the convention and truly capable of shocking the viewer. It beyond any doubt the reason why it has attracted such great crowds to the festivals that authors of the film have already participated in.

How did the film Bird Talk come about in the first place? The entire film was born out of a cloud of energy one would name »I do not know«, replied Xawery Żuławski. It turned out that the road from laying hands on a finished script to the film première was long and filled with doubts. At first, Xawery Żuławski completely forgot about the script, because he had to take care of his father, who got very ill and eventually died. Sometime later, the total of four film directors were supposed to work on interpreting the text. As you are all well aware, it was finally the son of the screenwriter of Bird Talk, who took the wheel and led the film crew, who joined forces to give birth to one of the ground-breaking pieces of Polish cinema, which has been released this year.

The peculiar sense of humour of the artists, which quickly hit the audience, and the bond between the men already manifested when they answered the very first question. The audience did not fail to notice how committed the artists were to the whole project, as they had a lot to say about it and revealed many secrets of making the films. They intertwined the story of making the film with interesting anecdotes, which were greeted with peals of laughter. One of such anecdotes came from Sebastian Fabijański, who plays Marian in the film. A lady came, wearing a festive outfit, with a golden beer in her hand; the world stopped and a red light came on; she approached me, said what she had to say, slapped me in the face, and then left.” That was his memory of one of the shooting days, in that case the scene shot at the Wiatraczna roundabout in Warsaw.

The character played by Sebastian Fabijański is by far one of the most complex protagonists in the history of Polish cinematography. While at the Gdynia Film Festival, Sebastian Fabijański heard from one of the actors involved in the filming of Słodki koniec dnia / Dolce fine giornata that he would offer money for the opportunity to play the role. When reading the script, Xawery Żuławski did not learn much about the character of Marian. To quote the film director himself – There were barely any hints about Marian, such as for example who he really was, apart from mentioning that he was a teacher of Polish. Further into the script, every mention of Marian was like this: Marian, dialogues and the things he is supposed to say. Period. It does explain the certain aura of mystery that emanates from Marian throughout the film.

Bird Talk is not a film, which stays away from feeding on personal issues. Xawery Żuławski has skilfully added some events from his personal life, which have a symbolic meaning in the film, as well as character traits copied from people dear to him. At that moment, the microphone was passed to the film director one more time, who talked about a casting session with Sebastian Fabijański he remembered. My goodness, he looks almost like me, said the filmmaker. Mother of God, so Marian is me, after all. Xawery Żuławski did not consider it to be good news, since, as he himself put it: I did everything in my power to make sure I would not identify myself in the script.

All in all, one must congratulate the artists not only on their latest piece of work, but also on the way they are capable of talking about it. Interactions with the audience, a lot of good humour, and previously untold storied helped eliminate the barrier between the viewer and the artist, and ensured that the whole discussion felt easy and smooth.

Zuzanna Rygielska

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