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About the film

The Erlprince is the story of an exceptionally gifted fourteen-year-old Boy who has just started studying physics at university. He is working on the theory of parallel worlds, which he initially believes to be linked by light. He has an extraordinary mind and a wounded soul, which his authoritarian Mother, who steers his life, is incapable of healing. Then a Man appears in their lives and, as the Boy passes from the hands of the Mother into his care, a new order is established. Their torturous road forms a bond between the three central characters, but their shared happiness is not to last long. Approaching a solution to the problem of the passage between the worlds, the Boy initiates a journey, setting his life on the scales…

Director's statement

The film I am planning will combine various cinema conventions and trends which are characteristic of thrillers, adventure films and science fiction movies. Nonetheless, the genre most akin to it is the family drama, with the opportunity for some interesting creative work on the part of the actors. The story speaks of no specific place and time. It is a fictional tale suspended between reality and the imagination of the fourteen-year-old boy.

Like my earlier works, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Room and Twist and Blood, the story will be told from a child’s perspective, identifying both formally and dramaturgically with the sensitivities of the young protagonist. The road he takes from light to death will be echoed in the film. Two parts. Bright, with a luminosity encircling the actors the key. With vivid, succulent, hyperreal nature and interiors permeated with rays of sunshine rebounding from windows and mirrors. With light as the essence of the first part of the story, another actor, endowing rhythm; from time to time, it will veil what is happening as rays of brightness are released straight into the camera’s eye… All of which will gradually pass over to the dark side, to death, to the gloom of the forest, the life of the wild animals. In the second half, it is the colours of the earth and of decay which will predominate, a twilight dimness, the light delicately and subtly handled. The boy’s visions, corresponding to Caravaggio’s paintings, will anticipate this. The progression through the two parts delineates an interesting and, I hope, original direction for the evolving of the image. It offers me the possibility of unfolding an ambiguous tale balanced between the probable and the unreal.

Kuba Czekaj

Screenplay and Director

Adam Palenta

Director of Photography

Anna Wunderlich

Set Design

Aleksandra Staszko

Costumes

Aleksandra Dutkiewicz

Make-up

Daniel Gąsiorowski

Editing

Bartłomiej Gliniak

Music

Radosław Ochnio

Sound

Agata Szymańska / Magdalena Kamińska

Production Managers

Munk Studio - Polish Filmmakers Association

production company

Ewa Jastrzebska / Jacek Bromski / Dariusz Gajewski

producers

Polish Television / Odra Film / Orka Film

co-production

Polish Film Institute

co-financing

 

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design: madeincosmos
development: macchiatocode

Munk Studio

The Munk Studio which operates within the structures of the Polish Filmmakers Association, produces debut shorts and feature-length films. Young artists seeking to make their first film can count on us for support and guidance during the entire process, from the development of their project, throughout its production under fully professional conditions, to the widest possible promotion of the finished product.

The Munk Studio was established in 2008 by the Polish Filmmakers Association and operates on the strength of an agreement entered into with the Polish Film Institute, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Telewizja Polska S.A. From the outset, it has been geared toward the production of artistically exacting films.

Munk Studio
Polish Filmmakers Association
7 Krakowskie Przedmiescie
00-068 Warsaw, Poland
phone: (+ 48) 22 556 54 70
fax: (+ 48) 22 556 54 69
e-mail: studiomunka@sfp.org.pl

studio munka

The Erlprince is forging ahead!

The Erlprince is forging ahead!

Work on Kuba Czekaj’s debut full-length feature, The Erlprince, is forging ahead. Shooting on location in the Błedne Skały (Errant Rocks) Nature Reserve in Lower Silesia was completed in late October and the next stage of filming is planned for January 2015. The Erlprince is a Munk Studio production, with Adam Palent as director of photography. The main role of the Boy is being played by fourteen-year-old Stanisław Cywka, who is making his feature-film debut, with Agnieszka Podsiadlik and Sebastian Łach as his on-screen partners. / www.munkstudio.eu

The further funding for The Erlprince!

The further funding for The Erlprince!

On 28th August, Odra-Film announced the allocation of a two hundred thousand zloty co-production contribution to The Erlprince.

The project was entered for the 8th Lower Silesian Film Competition, where it received  official production funding.

Odra-Film is a Lower Silesian Cultural Organisation and the organiser of the Lower Silesian Film Competition. / wroclawfilmcommission.pl

Pitching at Connecting Cottbus

Pitching at Connecting Cottbus

Connecting Cottbus, an important sector event held during FilmFestival Cottbus, is a co-production market. This year saw the Munk Studio presenting the Erlprince project in the hopes of finding a German co-producer. And we did!

During the event, producers, together with the directors or authors of the screenplays, give professional presentations of their film projects. The selection of the projects is made by a jury of experts. They decide who will have the chance of making their pitch in front of a professional audience consisting of producers, distributors and production funding bodies.
Participation in Connecting Cottbus provides the opportunity of presenting a project to the audience in a seven-minute pitch, as well as during individual meetings / connecting-cottbus.de

Pitching during New Horizons

Pitching during New Horizons

The Munk Studio enjoyed an excellent opportunity to establish professional contacts during the Polish Days event at the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival, during which, Kuba Czekaj’s film project was presented in public for the first time.

More than two hundred industry professionals made up the guest list for this year’s Polish Days, which took place from 24th to 26th November. Among them were sales agents such as Films Boutique, LevelK, Memento, MK2, Bankside Films, Trust Nordisk, Intramovies, Urban Distribution, Wide Management, Sixpack and New Europe Film Sales and distributors, including Wild Bunch Aero Films, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Gutek Film, Imagine, Just, Kino Świat and Metrodome. The television sector was represented by HBO, Canal+, Polsat and TVP, Poland’s national television corporation / nowehoryzonty.pl

A Grant of Two Million from the Polish Film Institute

A Grant of Two Million from the Polish Film Institute

The Erlprince has obtained the official support of the Polish Film Institute.

We were notified in writing that, on 2nd July, the director of the Institute, Ms Agnieszka Odorowicz, decided to subsidise the making of Kuba Czekaj’s film with the sum of two million zloty. Our application for funding was made under the Film Production Operational Programme / pisf.pl

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The Boy

The Erlprince, an exceptionally gifted adolescent boy, is a lordling, a small ruler of his own land. He is incapable of establishing contact with his peers, but would like to get closer to them, to strike up friendships... to be normal. Despite his academic achievements, he cannot find his feet in the reality around him. He cannot distinguish between directions; the letters R (right) and L (left) written on the corresponding hands help him to get around in daily life. Symbolically, these letters convey the extreme values held by the mother and the man.

The boy’s soul is wounded and his frustrated mother is unable to heal it. On the one hand, she is the authoritarian figure directing his life and, on the other, she is the object of his erotic dreams. For the boy, this is the end of the world. When faced with challenging emotional situations, he escapes into his imagination. A series of visions takes him through sexual initiation, fame, the recognition from his mother which he so hungers for, paradise and right up to death.

These visions are accompanied by the Erlking, whose name is paraphrased in the film’s title. Whispered in the voice of a youth struggling as his voice breaks, Goethe’s poem foretells the inevitable; the death of a child, the birth of a new person.

The boy knows perfectly well that he is arousing his mother’s fear, that his interior world, severed from reality, is awakening her dread. She feels threatened by the fact that everything is slowly slipping out of her control. It is only with the appearance of the man, the boy’s father, that a new order is established. The boy passes from his mother’s hands into the care of his father; breaking free of the child’s existence between the sexes, he begins to grow up, to become a young man.

Stanisław Cywka

Born on 28th January 2000 in Wrocław, Staszek is the son of actors Agnieszka Popkiewicz and Adam Cywka and has been attending middle school in Wrocław since September 2013.
He made his debut in front of the camera when he was ten years old, appearing on screen for the first time in one of the episodes of Mountain Rescuers, a TV serial directed by Marcin Wrona. He has also worked with such directors as Magdalena Łazarkiewicz, Kasia Adamik and Olga Chajda on the set of another TV serial, Deep Water, featuring in both the first series (2011) and the second (2013). In 2012, he played Antek Skotnicki in another serial, No Secrets 2 and, in 2014, he took on the title role in Antek, a graduation film directed by Sylwia Galon, a student at the Gdynia Film School. He has also played one-episode roles in the television serials Doctors and For Better and For Worse.

The Man

Not ready for marriage and family life, the man cast off the trappings of civilisation and culture and cut himself off from people, seeing his only chance of survival in escape and choosing the life of a savage. As a researcher studying wolves he found what he sought amongst animals; hierarchy and rhythm, a kind of meditation. Unexpectedly, a meeting  with his son, so long unseen, instigates the onset of change...

Confronted by a pure, miraculous childish intelligence and sensitivity, the man undergoes a transformation. Day by day, he grows into the role of carer, of father to his son, unconsciously helping the boy to step out onto a new, adult road through life.

The man links two worlds; boy and mother, brightness and shades of night. He is greyness, the colour that symbolises the wolf’s coat, the compromise between light and darkness. This is reflected in the film’s symbolic level. Reality is not black and white; it is in the graduations of grey that the answers and solutions are hidden.

Sebastian Łach

Born in Krakow on 29th September 1975, Sebastian Łach is a graduate of the Faculty of Acting at that city’s Ludwik Solski Theatre School. His work includes roles for various theatres in Krakow and Wałbrzych, but he is most closely connected with Warsaw and Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Nowy Teatr (New Theatre), appearing in such avant-garde productions as The Sexual Life of Savages and The Sky of Stone Instead Of Stars, both directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski, and Apocalypse, directed by Michał Borczuch.

He has a number of roles in award-winning film etudes to his account, with Tomasz Szafrański’s End of the War, Bartosz Warwas’ A Day in the Life of a Cheat and Tushar Prakash’s I’m OK featuring amongst them. He has played supporting roles in several full-length features, which have often been encounters with outstanding art-house filmmakers and films, including Łukasz Barczyk’s The Unmoved Mover, Grzegorz Królikiewicz’s Neighbours and Artur Urbański’s Father, and has also appeared in several international productions, including Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Marc Christopher Metzger’s The New Tenants.

As he puts it, what interests him most are projects which present an artistic challenge and offer the potential for growth and creative joy. Playing one of the leading roles in The Erlprince fulfils that professional dream.

The Mother

Friend, sister, schoolgirl, carer, trainer, courtesan… the natures and embodiments of a range of women come together in the mother. She is direct and straightforward. In her view, nothing is impossible. She is sure of herself, proud, attractive, resourceful, shrewd and self-sufficient. She copes excellently as a single mother, bringing up her son, an intelligent genius of a boy and, at the same time, a splendid man, and taking care to ensure that he has never wanted for anything in life.

She represses those feelings which she doesn't completely understand; the emotions she projects to other people are warped and stunted. She is incapable of establishing closer acquaintanceships and her life is devoid of both female and male friends. No one drops in to see her and she is unable to hold down a job for long; she constantly changes employment and she constantly lacks money. She would like everything to change, she would like to begin again, be born again as an adult woman.

Her son is the only world which she is capable of defining, determining, anticipating and providing for, he is her pillar and he keeps her on an even keel. She exists thanks to the boy.

The man is a mystery which she once had to bury. A spate of weakness, for which she cannot forgive herself, means that he once again becomes part of her life. The ambivalence of her feelings toward the man turns her well-defined world upside-down and everything changes as hitherto unknown, though intuitively sensed, expectations, impressions, fascinations and doubts make their appearance.

At the last moment, her feelings shatter the façade and find their way out. And that saves her life.

Agnieszka Podsiadlik

Born in Sosnowiec in 1981, Agnieszka Podsiadlik is a graduate of the Faculty of Acting at the Ludwik Solski Theatre School in Krakow. While she was in the third year of her studies, Grzegorz Jarzyna invited her to take part in his Teren Warszawa (Around Warsaw) project. She accepted, going on to join the TR Warszawa (Teatr Rozmaitości / Variety Theatre, Warsaw) ensemble and continuing to perform with them to this day.

Her work with TR began with a number of experimental productions, such as Risk Everything, directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna and Bedridden, directed by Marcin Wrona. Over the following decade, she encountered a host of experimental theatre artists in works which have been showered with awards at arts events. The most important of those theatrical ‘journeys’ at TR Warszawa include The Bat, directed by Kornél Mundruczó, for which she received the Actor’s Grand Prix at the 53rd Kalisz Theatre Meetings (2013), as well as Ragazzo de'll Europa and Jackson Pollesch, both directed by René Pollesch. Her roles in Whatever Happens, I Love You, directed by Przemysław Wojcieszek, and Helena S, directed by Aleksandra Konieczna, both gained her a nomination for a prestigious Feliks, Warsaw’s annual acting and directing awards. Meanwhile, she has also appeared as a guest artist elsewhere, playing leading roles such as Claire Zachanassian in The Visit, directed by Wojtek Klemm at the Luzerner Theater in Luzern, Switzerland and Liza in The Passenger, directed by Natalia Korczakowska at Teatr Współczesny (the Contemporary Theatre) in Wrocław, as well as appearing in a number of the television theatre productions regularly produced by TVP, Poland’s national broadcasting corporation.

When it comes to films, her guiding principle is always her thirst for working with independent artists. She has featured in many a production which has gone on to be screened at the world's most important festivals, with Dorota Kędzierzawska’s I Am and Time to Die, Joanna Jurewicz’s Goyta, Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal’s It Looks Pretty From a Distance, Grzegorz Królikiewicz’s Neighbours and Przemysław Wojcieszek’s Secret and How to Disappear Completely numbering amongst them.

She is known to a wider public for her roles in two outstanding serials, Prime Minister and Deep Water, co-directed by Agnieszka Holland, Magdalena Lazarkiewicz and Kasia Adamik.

In her work, she is always eager to undertake challenges which offer an opportunity for genuine growth and the chance to uncover new spaces in art.