Bartosz Konopka

Reality vs. fiction – the boundaries of documentary filmmaking

Bartosz Konopka has degrees in Film Studies from the Jagiellonian University, in Journalism from Warsaw University and in Film Directing from the Radio and Television Department of the Silesia University in Katowice. After his studies he started to work for several television stations.

Konopka cooperates with Piotr Rosołowski on almost all of his film projects. Konopka´s first documentary was Sky over Europe in 2003. A year later, he won Planete Docu Prize with his second documentary The Goat Walker during Berlinale 2004. This film is centred on a social experiment where goats are given to needy families instead of financial benefits as a part of the support they receive from the social system.

 

 

 

But the biggest success came with Konopka´s third short documentary - Rabbit à la Berlin (2009). Konopka and his colleague Piotr Rosołowski tried to produce an extraordinary film presenting recent history from an unusual perspective - that of the rabbits living between the walls. 

”Nobody had done this kind of documentary before. We had to invent this fairy tale-allegory-docu genre, and it had to find its own language--and it took us four years to complete.” said Konopka. For this film, which tells the story of the Berlin Wall from point of view of a group of wild rabbits that inhabited the zone between the two walls separating West Berlin from the East Germany during the Cold War, he received many prizes and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for the Best Short Documentary.

“I realized during the making of this film that rabbits are not very humo[rous] animals. They are quite serious, I believe. Which is also good because when you look at the faces you can think that they are also thinking something. They know something about us which we don’t know.
I feel myself as a rabbit. And I know that many people around me feel themselves psychologically as a rabbit. So for me it was like a mission, you know, to speak on behalf of the rabbits people.”

Konopka (filmslie.com)


In 2011, Konopka made his first feature film entitled Fear of Falling, an intimate portrait of a family whose perfect life is rattled by the grandfather's illness, only to fall back into place thanks to courage and risk. But very soon Konopka returned to unconventional documentary filmmaking. His next short documentary, once again made in cooperation with Piotr Rosołowski, is an unknown real story of a Haitian voodoo priest, who visited Poland in 1980 and conducted a ceremony to free the Poles from evil - The Art of Disappearing.


“We wanted to present a different perspective on a certain historical event, that is, in this case, a complete stranger visiting Poland in the 80s, a tragic, but at the same time successful decade of Polish history. Because there are so many films and books already made about what happened, we wanted our documentary to be more refreshing. Actually, the structure of the film reflects our process of understanding the Haitian voodoo priest Amon Fremon. At the beginning, we tried to find out as much as we can about him, but as we visited Haiti and got to know the people and the voodoo cult there better and better, we realized that maybe Amon would have wanted us to make the film more about his spiritual than physical existence.”

Konopka (zitty.de)


His latest short documentary projects include Nowa Warszawa (2014) and Z lózka powstales (2015).