In Darkness  

by director Agnieszka Holland

In Darkness is my third film touching the subject of the Holocaust. I didn’t want to make this film at first. I didn’t want to spend 2-3 years of my life in the ghettos and the sewers. My previous films on the subject depressed me, so I knew what it meant. The entire family of my father died in the Warsaw ghetto and my Polish mother received the title of Righteous among the Nations for saving a couple of Jews escaping the ghetto. I grew up imagining living through the pogrom or having to hide in a wardrobe....

But the screenwriter was very stubborn. He was sending me newer and newer versions of his script, he was stalking me, and he deeply believed that I was the one and only person to tell this story.

Finally I started to dream about it. I started to smell the sewers, to imagine the characters. So I understood, after a while, that I cannot escape it. This story became mine.

Screenwriter David Shamoon and I both wanted to tell the story of real people. Those people are neither good, nor bad. Sometimes they can be one or the other. Some are very courageous and some are weak. They are not different from you and me. The circumstances are different. The choices that they are facing are not human, but they deal with them in the most human way possible.

My main character, a Polish sewer worker, is an ordinary man, a petty thief and a street smart crook. He surprises himself when doing a heroic act. He’s walking on a tightrope: at any moment he can slip on the side of good or on the side of evil.

I grew to love his character. Also because the actor Robert Wieckiewicz gave him more truth and heart than any actor could have given. He is Socha.

We wanted to make it real: real darkness, real languages, real places. This is the way audiences take it: as if the story is real. Not just a story. It is a journey for viewers. An experience. It is not an enjoyable one. But it is an intense one and I hope an enriching one.

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