By: Victoria Stevens
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 07/19/2022 – The Tribeca Film Festival is an annual festival that takes place in the spring in New York City. It was started by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2002, and it celebrated its 21st anniversary this year. It has opened doors for many accomplished filmmakers and has given opportunities to many upcoming talent.
To be selected to showcase your film at this festival is a great honor. Writer/director Anna Jadowska was one of the chosen to have her film, Woman on The Roof, showcased at this year’s festival. Her lead actress, Dorota Pomykala, won best performance in an International Narrative Feature for her performance in the feature.
Woman on The Roof was inspired by a true story about a 60-year-old woman who, out of desperation, decides to rob a bank. Seeing a great opportunity to explore what led this woman to such an act, enticed Jadowska to make this film.
“Choosing a topic is never a conscious decision for me. Years ago, I read an article about a woman in her 60’s who tried to rob a bank, and then I forgot about it. However, years later when I was back in the writing chair looking for another topic to write about, this story popped back in my head. The movie is only inspired by real events that I took from that article. I was curious about what would drive this woman to rob a bank and I wanted to dive deeper into her motivations. Her internal portrait is the result of my work on the script,” explained Jadowska.
In the pre-production stage of filmmaking, the director has a lot of decisions to make. The set location can either make or break a film. Therefore, it takes a lot of time to travel to different locations to find that perfect spot that will give your film the right mood for your storyline.
“Locations are a very important part of the story for me. They talk a lot about characters and create an atmosphere. So, I attach great importance to their choice. Our most important location was the block where our lead character, Mira, lives. When we started our search, I imagined it was a high building in the middle of nowhere. We found such a place two hours from Warsaw in Tomaszów Mazowiecki. A few weeks before the shooting, I went with the cinematographer Ita Zbroniec-Zajt and my son on a trip to this place. While walking from place to place, we discovered many interesting locations, including the place where Mira hangs her laundry at the beginning of the movie,” said Jadowska.
Shooting a feature film is not an easy task. It takes months to shoot with long shoot days. Then having to add another element of safety because of Covid can make it quite difficult to stay on track when you have such a tight schedule.
“We had 30 shooting days which were very intense, and quite difficult for various reasons. For the main actress, Dorota Pomykala, it was a huge effort; not only physically but also mentally. In the scene of her escape from the bank, Dorota almost broke her legs. She did everything at 200 percent and was very concentrated at every scene she did,” expressed Jadowska. “As for the Covid element, before the first shoot day, the entire team was vaccinated. As far as I can remember, there was no case of Covid. We tried to use common sense, and I think it worked.”
Being able to have her film viewed at Tribeca was very rewarding for Jadowska. She wanted to see how the audience would react to her main character Mira and her emotional journey she was on.
“I am open to any response from the audience and any interpretation of this story,” explained Jadowska. “For me, the most important thing in the cinema is dialogue with the viewer, and not giving ready-made answers. In the case of this film, I wanted the audience to be able to follow the emotional journey of the main character, so that she would be very close to her inner experiences.”
Being a Polish director, Jadowska had many difficult hurdles that she had to jump through that most US film directors don’t have to encounter. However, it is because of these hurdles that Jadowska could use her voice to help the world see what Polish women have to go through on a daily basis.
“The situation for women in Poland is very difficult. There are social expectations and cultural codes that are placed on them that have them very stereotyped. In Poland, abortion is almost impossible, and in America there are also right-wing voices against abortion. Until a few years ago it seemed that we were becoming more and more open, but now we are taking a step back which is affecting so many more women,” said Jadowska. “In my case, I start writing stories with a protagonist who has something that resonates with me. At the beginning of my writing process, I always talk about female characters which all have a similarity to them. I believe we should tell stories that only we can tell. My stories are about women who try to fight for their independence with different results and in different ways.”
If you would like to see more films from Jadowska, you can see her previous film Wild Roses on Arte cinema selection, which can also be seen in the US. She has also directed two shows on Netflix called Ultraviolet and Open Your Eyes. Ultraviolet is in its 2nd season about an online community of amateur sleuths that use technology to solve crimes, and make quirky friends in their quest for justice. Open Your Eyes is a Polish supernatural thriller TV series based on the 2013 novel Druga szansa by Katarzyna Berenika Miszczuk which is in its 1st season.
Photo Credit: Anna Jadowska