Fascinating documentary capturing thoughts of passersby from a balcony wins top film award
A Polish documentary giving a snapshot of the lives and life philosophies of strangers spoken to from a balcony, has won a prestigious Grand Prix Award at the 74th International Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.
‘The Balcony Film’ by Pawel Łoziński, which won the Grand Prix Award in the festival’s ‘Semaine de la critique’ section against six other contenders, was begun shortly before the pandemic and is comprised of conversations with passers-by which Łoziński filmed over the course of two years from the balcony of his apartment in Warsaw’s Saska Kępa district.
The 55-year-old director said: “I decided to stop and wait, until the world came to me. I stood on my balcony with a camera for two years and captured everyone who passed by beneath it.
“The film came from those encounters and tells the story of people and what they themselves wanted to say about themselves. And about the director, who was curious about them.”
He added: “I was surprised by how little I understood people. Almost no one is the person who they appear to be.
“Within themselves people carry riddles and secrets. They can’t be easily pigeon-holed. Life can never be foreseen.”
The subjects in Łoziński’s film are as diverse as they come: young and old, rich and poor, happy and sad and politically right and left.
The main shot in the film barely changes except for the people who walk in and out of it. In each case, the director catches their attention and asks them about the meaning of life.
Previously Łoziński made a documentary about his neighbours, which included an overweight caretaker, two 80 year-old sisters and a cleaning lady from Ukraine.
He also created a film ‘Chemo’ in 2002, based on conversations with patients on an oncology ward.
Describing his style of documentary making, Łoziński said: “A document comes from an interest in the world and people.
“The key is loneliness. Like in literature. You read and you think: this is about me, I feel the same. And I’m not longer alone.
“My dream is for film, though it be a blunt tool compared to literature, to be able to fulfil this role.”
The Balcony Film, which had its world premiere at Locarno, will have its Polish premiere at the ‘Millennium Docs Against Gravity’ festival which starts on the 2nd of September and will run across seven Polish cities.