“It gives me a lot of satisfaction. It’s an honor,” says Jerzy Skolimowski, the director and co-writer of “EO,” Poland’s official entry for Best International Feature at the 95th Academy Awards. “It’s also proof that the film must be one of the better films made in Poland last year, so I’m very glad that I can represent with my film ‘EO.'” Watch our exclusive interview with Skolimowski and his wife, the film’s co-writer and co-producer, Ewa Piaskowska, above.
“EO” follows a donkey, born into a Polish circus and then released, as he encounters on his journey good and bad people, experiences joy and pain, exploring modern Europe through his eyes. The film was awarded a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Cannes Soundtrack Award for composer Pawel Mykietyn (who also won Best Original Score at the European Film Awards). “EO” also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
“It is a kind of road movie,” says the 84-year old veteran filmmaker. “I’ve never made one like that. It was a challenge obviously.” Piaskowska adds, “Making a film, nowadays, especially when you make it in Europe and you are so involved in it, as we are, beginning with writing the script, and then Jerzy directing and us producing, it takes such a long time. It’s such an effort. When you give a good few years of your life to a project, it’s really important for it to mean something to you.”
The film was made out of love for nature and for animals. “When human beings mistreat animals to such drastic, dramatic, barbarian forms, like industrial farming, which is a shame for human beings. We managed to reduce our meat consumption. During the process of making it, half of my crew stopped eating meat. We managed to reduce it by two-thirds, hoping that one day we will become total vegetarians. As a result of this film, we hope that some part of the audience will be moved enough to reconsider their habits of meat consumption. It doesn’t need to be bacon every day. Let’s cut it down to maybe every second day, every third day. Maybe once a week and maybe completely! That would be the biggest award this film could get.”
In our webchat, the director also jokes about animals being sometimes easier to work with than actors. “Actors tend to have so many questions,” he explains as Piaskowska laughs beside him. “They have all the answers in the script. I was making a big Napoleonic film with a lot of armies on the horses and one of the actors came to me and said, ‘Why am I jumping out of the horse right now?’ So I opened the script and I said, ‘Look here, on this page. It says you’re jumping out of the horse. You read the script. You didn’t have any questions. Why are you asking me now in the middle of the shooting? Just jump off the f***ing horse!”
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