Ryszard Bugajsk' The Closed Circuit, participating at Polish Film Festival, LA


Inspired by real events, The Closed Circuit, directed by Ryszard Bugajski is a compelling, strongly performed political thriller about greed and corruption in contemporary Gdansk, Poland, where some high-flying new entrepreneurs fall victim to the machinations of the city’s entrenched powers.
The action begins in 2003, as young businessmen throw a grand fete to open their new factory. They’re partners in a fast-growing, highly successful company called Navar, which produces high-tech electronics using state-of-the-art equipment from Denmark.  Lurking on the fringes of the festivities like some malevolent spider is district prosecutor Andrzej Kostrzewa (Janusz Gajos). A Communist Party stalwart from way back, Kostrzewa is a master manipulator and ruthless hunter who takes pleasure in eliminating weaker specimens.
The businessmen are arrested and treated like dangerous criminals, accused of financial irregularities and money laundering. They are thrown into prison, where they face inhuman conditions, leaving Kostrzewa free to wheedle their shares from their significant others.

The Closed Circuit will be screened at the Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday, October 16 and 17, 2013. Mr. Ryszard Bugajski will attend the festival in Los Angeles and will take part in Q&A after the screening of his film.

Bijan Tehrani: What did encourage you to make The Closed Circuit?
Ryszard Bugajski: Although the script was not perfect when I first read it, it was very promising, nevertheless. In the first place, the subject matter, the wrenching drama of successful yet innocent businessmen and their families, their long struggle with the corrupt prosecutors and greedy revenue officials had a strong appeal to me. Also, I wanted to analyze the roots of evil in a normal human being. Why a promising, decent young man becomes a corrupt, ruthless monster? Why did he choose the Dark Side of the Force? Does he have any regrets, remorse? What, if ever, price he has to pay for his attitude, for his deeds?

BT: The Closed Circuit is based on a real story, how close the film is to the real story?
RB: The core of the basic story is true. However, as we were rewriting, polishing the script and we discovered more similar cases around us in Poland, I and the screenwriters decided to combine several cases together, making them more generic, more universal. The names of the original protagonists and the locations were changed. Several fictitious scenes and several new characters were added to enhance the dramatic impact of the film. Still, however we tried not to soften, not to mellow the story, the real experience was much harsher, more painful for the real guys and their families.

BT: Please tell us about pre-production and research stage, as the film deals with recent history, did you had a chance to meet real people involved in it?
RB: The original research was done by the screenwriters. I met the real people, the protagonists who inspired the story, only when the film was finished, after the premiere. I did not want to be influenced by their specific psychophysical characters.

BT: What were the challenges you faced making The Closed Circuit? Any reactions from the authorities involved in the real events?
RB: The only real challenge for us was lack of production money. The government agency which usually funds film projects in Poland (PISF) turned down our application four times in a row. Why? I have no idea. The producers did not give up, though. They raised money from private investors, from many different individuals who had got interested in our project. It took them over a year to close the budget.

BT: What has been the reaction of the Polish audience to the film? Has it helped to bring awareness to the public to avoid future problems like that?
RB: The public response to our film was excellent, very emotional. Many people told us they had gone through similar struggle with the authorities and lived through a similar trauma themselves. In terms of the box office, “The Closed Circuit” is the second grossing film in Poland this year (including American and European productions). It has made a strong impact on the viewers. It is too early to estimate the film’s impact upon the political situation in Poland. Hopefully, it can help the government and the legislators to reconsider and amend the faulty Polish legal system in the future.

BT: You have superb performances from the actors in The Closed Circuit. How did you go about casting the film and working with them?
RB:  I’ve managed to cast excellent actors in this movie simply on the basis of a good story and a well written script. They all liked their parts, e. i. they thought there was enough material for them to build not two-dimensional but full-body characters. Actors don’t like simplifications and they love to impersonate complicated, emotionally torn, even contradictory natures.

BT: Please tell us about visual style of your film and how did you come with it.
RB:  I’m not a director who gives precedence of style and visual form over the subject matter. I strongly believe in craftsmanship, though. The story must be told very precisely to reach the audience’s minds and hearts. For me the subject matter, the characters determine the visual style of a film, they drive the narration – not the other way round.

BT: Do you think Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles could help promoting Polish films in US to find possibilities in distribution?
RB: It is an excellent opportunity for Polish filmmakers to be able to show their films in Los Angeles where so many great professionals live and work. This confrontation can be painful sometimes, but it can also reaffirm somebody’s artistic choices and give a boost to a director’s ego. American perspective can be refreshing and inspiring for an European filmmaker. I don’t think however that American distributors (and the regular American audience) who prefer non-subtitled films will change their habits after watching some even outstanding foreign films.

Screening info:
Laemmle Royal
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 (in person: Maria Mamona, Ryszard Bugajski, Marek Probosz, Olga Bieniek) 
9:00 p.m. THE CLOSED CIRCUIT (Uklad zamkniety) by Ryszard Bugajski (110 min.)
Laemmle NoHo 7
Thursday, October 17, 2013 (in person: Maria Mamona, Marek Probosz, Ryszard Bugajski, Olga Bieniek)
7:00 p.m.  Shorts &  Doc. 5: DAYDREAM OF THE SLEEPWALKER  by Janusz Gilewicz (13 min.)
BLACK BOX (Czarna skrzynka) by Krzysztof Kowalski (80 min.)
9:00 p.m.  THE CLOSED CIRCUIT (Uklad zamkniety) by Ryszard Bugajski (110 min.)


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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