The first time I saw Dark Sun Squeeze, half a year ago, I did not know what I was watching. I first I thought it was dirty water, then an oil processing plant and then, about half way through it hit me. I was watching poop.
Dark Sun Squeeze, is a 2004 short documentary by Pawel Wojtasik, a renown polish filmmaker. The documentary is a slow and contemplative 10-minute short about a sewage treatment plant.
Part of this years on campus events at FLEFF are the master classes. To kick-off the two days of these great discussions, Pawel Wojtasik led a discussion and shot-by-shot analysis of Dark Sun Squeeze.
Hearing Wojtasik talk about his philosophy of filmmaking and what went into creating this particular piece was incredible. He was very well-spoken and a great storyteller, with a very philosophical and serene outlook on life, I felt like I could’ve sat in that room for many more hours listening to him speak.
Here are 6 of my takeaways from his talk:
- Choose a subject that challenges you. For this film, and for most of his other films, Pawel chooses a subject that requires him to come face to face with something he doesn’t like or even fears. In Dark Sun Squeeze that is human waste. He spent a lot of time at the plant, becoming immersed in the sound, smell and flow of it. One of his films screening this weekend is End of Life, in this film Pawel comes face to face with the reality of death. His goal with these intimate encounter is to eventually see things just as they are, just existing and not judging or discriminating – to take in and love everything just as it presents itself.
- It is impossible to take yourself out of a film but you can strive for it. His goal with this film was to try to show “this is what it is.” To do this he strived to take out his personality and presence as a filmmaker and show pure, naked “seeing” – impartial vision with no prejudices.
- The human mind likes variety. “In a film we are orchestrating an experience,” Pawel says. He showed how the shots and music fluctuate between gentle and strong, slow and intense. He varies the geometry of the frame, the direction of the movement and where the negative space is located.
- Film can be healing. Pawel spoke about how at the time he was filming this he was going through a difficult time in his personal life. He described moments during the filming process where he felt like it was truly healing.
- Social change and social justice comes from within. Protests, marches, demonstrations are critical but one must do work on oneself first to overcome internalized hatred and prejudices.
- Meditate! Stillness of the mind translates into stillness and reflectiveness of the camera.
Pawel Wojtasik will have two films screened at Cinemapolis this weekend. The End and the Means will be screened at 3:30pm on Saturday and The End of Life at 1:50pm on Sunday.