TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


Still Life

Marta Parlatore, Ewa Puszczyńska



Małgosia opens her eyes slowly and behind the window it’s a dark November morning. Her body resembles a white cross on the black sheets of the bed where she sleeps alone. Her daughters are all up already, waiting for her to get out of bed, but Małgosia doesn’t let them make her hurry. Despite their protests, she won’t take them to school. Not today.
Fran is awakened by another phone-call. It’s Marta, her sister, again. And again, she doesn’t pick up. She lights a joint in silence, looks at the two naked men asleep in her bed and smiles. What would her perfect sister say if she knew how she spent the afternoon? How different their lives really are. But Fran doesn’t care, no-one can touch her now, her life is in her own hands. Or at least, this is what she thinks.
Łucja stares at the needle. She left her son with her mother tonight and her infant baby is asleep in her cradle. Can one last time make such a difference? Łucja pierces her arm and melts down on the bed. Her neighbors are having a fight, so physically close, yet so far. The spring morning becomes day then dusk and night then dawn again, but Łucja’s body doesn’t even twitch while the lives of people we don’t see continue undisturbed behind the walls.


The event that originated the idea for Still Life was my stumbling upon a tiny article about two bodies that had been found in a flat in one of the huge blocks in the outskirts of Lodz, the city where I live.
The bodies belonged to a young girl who overdosed on heroin and her six-month old baby, who died of exhaustion, as the neighbours reacted only a week after her death. As a human, my first reaction was horror, followed by deep sadness as this brought back the memory of my grandfather, who passed away because of a heart attack and whom we found only three days later. And I thought of myself, too. How many days would it take my neighbours to react, if something would happen to me?
As a filmmaker, I was bewildered by the idea that in a building where hundreds of people live, separated only by walls, such an event could go unnoticed for seven full days without disrupting any of the parallel existences surrounding it. And what I couldn’t help thinking was, what would it be to listen to all the sounds and words of other people’s lives from the point of view of someone who is not alive any more? Would a fight between husband and wife have a different meaning? Would it have meaning at all?
Malgosia rejects life, she kills herself, unable to live an existence she cannot accept, despite her 3 daughters depending on her. She is sunk into the past, focused on things lost so strongly, she doesn’t even see the beauty of her present, or of how it could be. Fran on the contrary, is the personification of life, fearless and free, she embraces every new day like a joyride, determined to suck as much out of it as she can. But because of this, her fate won’t be different, she will die in a stupid accident, something completely unpredictable.
Still Life studies the interrupted gestures, feelings and choices of the 3 main characters, taking us on a journey through emotional female themes, such as obsession, motherhood, envy, self-sacrifice and the relationship with the body. A study of attitudes towards the time given to us, a collection of nows asking what it is that remains of our being, when we see it through a prism of non-being?
The 3 stories form an arc, the connections between them symbolic and visual. Malgosia drives through the rainy city streets on a heavy autumn day, Fran is sunk in the blackness and sparks of a Christmas afternoon, while the warmth and colours of spring come through Lucja’s window. The camera follows Malgosia nervously, it slows down to Steady-Cam smoothness meeting Fran’s sensuality, coming to a full stop in the fixed frame of Lucja’s ending; which slides into a dreamy imagery of a summer beach.
Still Life is the story of how 3 different stories end, coming together as one. Wanting to celebrate life, in all its fragile beauty.

budget & financing

Opus Film is a well-established Production Company, which earned its name as a leading independent Polish Producer of documentaries and feature films throughout its 18 years of dynamic growth. The company achieved worldwide recognition by regular presence at renowned international festivals, either at co-production markets or with films in competition. Marta Parlatore’s writing talent gripped us, and her professional approach to working as a director won her our full support for Still Life. Our investment in the project so far is the production of a promotional study, location scouting and auditions. We estimate our input in the production in goods and services to reach 15% of the budget. Marta developed her project at The Screenwriters’ Programme of the Binger Filmlab and at the Script&Pitch Workshops where she won the Development Award – the participation in the TorinoFilmLab. After a fruitful collaboration, the Binger Filmlab invited Marta to further improve her project at the Directors Coaching Programme in 2010. Still Life has an unquestionable international co-production potential, that is why - apart from applying to the Polish Film Institute and the Polish Regional Funds, which together can secure circa 40% of the budget - we will search for an international partner at the Rotterdam Cinemart and Berlinale Co-Production Market. Elen de Waele (Serendipity Films – Belgium) and Laetitia Gonzales (Films du Poisson – France) already expressed their interest in the project. With a foreign input secured, we will apply to Eurimages (17% of the budget). We plan to close the budget in the second half of 2010 and be ready to shoot in the winter of 2010/2011.

distribution & sales

The aesthetic and human value of Marta Parlatore’s Still Life can prove strategic for the international sales and distribution. Its main themes of life and death cross all geographical boundaries, and the protagonists express universal emotions. It is a mature and demanding piece of cinema, which deserves an individual approach. That is why we do not necessarily want to be taken on board by a big-name commercial distributor only for the sake of the brand. We are interested in a partner who will develop a genuine interest in the project and devise an inventive strategy adequate to the specifications of the film. We would like to develop a collaboration with a sales agent who has experience in dealing with art-house features. We already received positive feedback form German M-Appeal, who secured world sales for Opus’s award-winning film Tricks. The screenplay also attracted attention of Luc Ntonga (Insomnia - France). Currently we conduct co-production and pre-acquisition talks with Arte. We are aware that a wise choice of festivals is crucial in the case of Still Life. Our goal is to screen the film at festivals where such poetic and challenging picture stands a chance to be noticed by the critique, as well as by the buyers who will be eager to promote an ambitious talent who has the courage to make a powerful statement, and who is endowed with a visual awareness that will guarantee a true cinematic experience.

Is life less beautiful when it ends?
Marta Parlatore

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Ewa Puszczyńska


production notes

original title
Martwa Natura

directed by
Marta Parlatore

produced byOpus Film
Lakowa 29
90-554, Lodz

total production budget
€ 1.000.000

current financial need
€ 500.000