Twarz (Mug): An interview with the film’s stars Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Małgorzata Gorol and Agnieszka Podsiadlik
Director Małgorzata Szumowska’s new film packs a wallop while also grabbing the audience firmly by the funny bone. A sly dig at the morals of contemporary Poland, Twarz (Mug) tells the story of Jacek (Mateusz Kościukiewicz), who becomes the recipient of Poland’s first ever face transplant. His mother becomes bewildered and unsettled by the change, thinking that the now-dead donor is somehow in there somewhere. Jacek’s steadfast sister (Agnieszka Podsiadlik) becomes the only one he can depend on, after even his girlfriend (Małgorzata Gorol) cannot cope with this fundamental shift. We had a chat with the stars of the film the morning after its world premiere.
So you’ve now seen the film for the first time with a public audience. How was that for you all?
Agnieszka Podsiadlik: I’m excited. Yesterday we had a great premiere, just great. It was our first time watching the film with an audience. It was amazing, to feel this connection with the audience, like the film is universal. When we can laugh at the same moments and be completely still at the same moment. The same things are touching us. The humanity is still there, so yesterday was so happy.
Małgorzata Gorol: It was my first movie, and my first film festival.
AP: Not bad!
Mateusz Kościukiewicz: Nice debut.
MG: First red carpet, so everything was a first. It was incredible. I’m so happy, and so nervous of course. It was an amazing day.
MK: It’s always a very special place. Being here, it’s always a privilege. With the support of Berlinale we are where we are. Yesterday was really, really impressive. Movie work, what can we say? We are proud, we are happy, we are–
MK: Of course! Extremely tired, but we are happy and it’s going well.
The audience has been very receptive to the film, but the critical response has also been strong. Were you expecting this, and have you looked at any of the reviews from the international press?
MK: We saw a couple of them. There has been very strong support from Brazil, from Argentina, and, of course, we’re joking about the Jesus Christ statue in the film, because now we have the bigger one, and now they know. But also from here. From Germany, lots of English-speaking journalists. The Guardian said nice things.
Peter Bradshaw gave you four stars.
MK: And he’s a tough cookie! We are so extremely happy, like the movie works on such a different level for people, for critics. I hope it’s going to be huge in Poland because that’s our base, our background, and I hope a lot of people can watch it. It’s an important movie for us, because we’re Polish, and it’s also important for Europe, it’s important for everybody!
AP: We didn’t have many opportunities to talk to normal viewers, because the competition [section of the Berlin International Film Festival] doesn’t have a Q&A, so you cannot talk with the audience personally. But I met some people – some people tapped me on the shoulder with congratulations. They were moved, so it’s a very good first impression.
What was the key to bringing all the elements of the film together?
MK: A bunch of talented people doing what they love! Małgorzata is almost always working with the same crew, with the same team, for I don’t know how many years – I feel like from the beginning. With Michał [Michał Englert, the co-writer and director of photography], they started together with short movies. She keeps people who are loyal, who are passionate, who have this power to work with her, because she needs a lot of energy, and she needs to feel that everyone who is shooting the movie that it’s the most important thing in the world for them. We’re leaving our families, we’re leaving kids, we’re leaving everything. We’re leaving our life, and we’re shooting. And it’s always a huge journey. People love to come and just be together as a filmmaking family ł a real one!
AP: It’s always like a journey, to make such an illusion on the set. You are together for all these weeks, so close because of this one thing. Everyone’s goal is the same. Of course, each of us have different tools, but the connection and the trust…
MK: Yes. The trust is very important.
AP: We worked together for the first time and we didn’t really need to talk a lot. It was like an intuitive exchange based on trust and freedom, and spontaneity.
MK: We don’t talk so much on set because it saves money. No time to talk, we need to shoot! Shoot, shoot, shoot!
Twarz (Mug) does not have a UK release date yet. Read our review here.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.