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Mizeria

Eva Michon, Karen Harnisch

Canada, Poland

synopsis

30-year-old Lydia and 50-year-old Henryk arrive at their newly renovated chalet in the Polish mountains. Lydia, born and raised in Poland, has worked in hotels since high school, while Henryk has recently returned after starting a life and family in Canada. The next day, Henryk’s daughter Alice arrives in Poland.

Henryk spontaneously assigns Alice with overseeing all interior design, which agitates Lydia considerably. Meanwhile, their neighbour Boris has turned off Henryk’s water with a valve on his property to derail the couple’s plans and keep away unwanted foreigners. In order to regain access, Boris proposes that Henryk pay a monthly stipend. Henryk conceals the truth from Lydia and Alice, determined to fix things himself.

Alice discovers that Lydia is pregnant. The news brings them closer, yet leaves them feeling betrayed by Henryk. In the film’s climax, Lydia confronts her impending motherhood when Boris’ cow’s delivery goes awry, by pulling the newborn calf free in a moment of catharsis.

intention

Mizeria is the name of a Polish cucumber salad but it also translates to misery. As a child, I never realized it; despite the name, it is one of the most refreshing and delightful sides you could eat. My vision for the film is also like that. It comes in a refreshing and unpretentious form, but under the sweet surface there is a layer that goes deeper and darker.

As a Polish kid growing up in Canada, I always felt a bit in the middle; never fully Polish and never totally Canadian. This middleground has stayed with me and influenced Mizeria’s story. It is complicated to reconnect with your roots and the land your parents came from. Territory is a big theme, whether in regard to Henryk’s land squabbling with Boris, or Lydia’s tug-of-war with Alice for primacy over Henryk, each character is involved in a dark and funny game of turf warfare.

Setting the story in Poland, where borders have been contested for centuries, elevates this theme and binds the characters to their historical context.

budget, distribution & sales

Mizeria is the debut feature by Polish-Canadian director Eva Michon, inspired by characters of her 2016 short film Small Fry. It is currently in its final phase of development, with plans to start principal photography in early Summer 2020. The total production budget for the film is € 2.373.049. Telefilm Canada has committed € 750.000 to production funding and Canadian theatrical distribution rights have been secured by levelFILM while Canadian broadcasting rights have been secured by CraveTV, a division of Bell Media. We hope to close financing with support from the Polish Film Institute, Eurimages, Ontario Creates, and further pre-sales or private equity.

videos

A young woman and her older boyfriend defend their relationship and turf in the mountains of Poland.
6357-eva-michon
Eva Michon

Scriptwriter, Film Director

6359-karen-harnisch
Karen Harnisch

Production

production notes

original title
Mizeria

directed by
Eva Michon

produced byFilm Forge
369 Shaw Street
M6J 2X4, Toronto
Ontario, Canada

in co-production with
Opus Film – Poland

total production budget
€ $1.800.000