What lies hidden behind the word “love”? In life we often form knotty relationships with our closest relatives that we find it impossible to disentangle. This film tells the dramatic story of two women, a mother and daughter, who are bound together by painful, complicated emotions. Here they have a crucial encounter with a third person whom they have never met before, but who is an experienced therapist. Employing the words and empathy that are his basic tools, he becomes their close advisor.
Paweł Łoziński invites us to take part in their confidential therapy sessions. In an intimate conversation between these three people, some old wounds and deeply hidden emotions gradually come to the surface. Will it be possible for the mother and daughter to find a way out of the cycle of chronic trauma? A way to cut the umbilical cord that binds them with losing their bond of love? In the safe setting of his consulting room, the therapist takes them on a difficult journey inside themselves, and at the same time towards a better mutual relationship. We are given a close-up view of the spiritual process involved in disentangling their emotional knots. Is there a chance for the “scar left by mother” to heal at both ends of the severed umbilical cord?
Paweł Łoziński on characters and film
Psychotherapy renders an extraordinary means to talk with other people and, at the same time, with oneself. I have long wanted to put the camera inside a psychotherapist’s office. I managed to do so by way of an experiment. We recorded the therapy process of our heroines, mother and daughter. We watched them change, and observed the master, therapist prof. Bogdan de Barbaro, at work. I think it is a film about each one of us, about our fears, difficulties and the loneliness we experience in relationships with other people. It is a knock at our heart’s door.
We posted an announcement on Facebook where we said that we were making a film about therapy and stated the privacy terms. I was amazed at the number of volunteers who wanted to take part in the experiment. I heard harrowing stories of human suffering, dysfunctions and solitude. I had a dozen meetings a day, half an hour per story. They sat down and talked about themselves bravely and sincerely. But now, for the first time, I felt that my curiosity was justified: they needed help and I was able to offer it to them. I knew we were serving a higher cause because in the film they would get to sit before a genuine therapist. For many, it was their first contact with a psychologist. People are both curious about and afraid of that. They think that therapists have x-ray eyes, will see right through them and tell them how to live their lives. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding psychotherapy. I had this crazy idea to shoot all the possible configurations: parents - children, bereavement, drinking problem, betrayal, separation. I wanted to therapy half of the city. There was something narcotic about that. When I finished with the conversations, I had withdrawal symptoms: will no one tell me stories about divorce, loss, abortion or infertility today? But even then I knew that I was no therapist or confessor, just an ordinary listener, director.
I really liked the fact that the therapist would not let the heroines talk to each other. They would turn to him to talk to each other. He was their interpreter and their mirror. The mirror reflected their monologues. And then it turned out that it was only thanks to that reflection that one could talk to the other. It was an interesting workshop. What struck me was the combination of empathy and intellectual insight on his part. There is something about his face that inspires absolute trust. More like a wise monk or a philosopher than a film character of a therapist.
The road to making a film is paved with a few years of hard work. Firstly, you need to understand how to go about making it. Then, what is vital is the right casting. And finding the therapist. Every session was recorded on three cameras. Each sigh, glance and grimace were important to me. Our operator, Kacper Lisowski, set a beautiful, studio/documentary light. Bogdan de Barbaro ran his sessions in a manner so consistent in directing terms that, despite the shortcuts, we did not have to change the dialogue sequence while editing. He led the course of the conversation imperceptibly, as if anticipating the point of arrival. I had to interview about a hundred people to finally reach this pair: Eve and Hanna. We have days of material. But it was only after recording a large number of other very interesting characters that we found this couple, this little lump of gold, which my wonderful editor, Dorota Wardęszkiewicz, and I eagerly used.
Exerpts from conversations with Tadeusz Sobolewski