94th Academy Awards Nominee 2022 
Best Live Action Short Film
Interview

Tadeusz Łysiak
The Dress
instagram.com/tadeuszlysiak

Lust, sexuality and physicality. These are the deepest desires virgin Julia suppresses while working at a wayside motel. That is until she crosses paths with a handsome truck driver, who soon becomes the object of her fantasies...

 

Hi Tadeusz thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times? 

I try to be positive, but many things currently scare me. We are just recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, and the world is starting to reign another, much worse - that of war and destruction. I look with great concern to what is happening in Ukraine.

Congratulations on your 2022 Oscar Nomination Best Live Action Short for The Dress, what does it mean to you to get this type of recognition for your film?

It is absolutely amazing that a film made by students just to pass the exam, on a small budget, can be appreciated all over the world and nominated for an Oscar. Something dreamed up, unreal and wonderful. Such stories lead me to believe that some good is still in the world. We are also very happy because we believe that "The Dress" is an important film that our society needs. The greatest thing about it is that we arouse a discussion, we start talking about things that have not been too loudly discussed so far.

As this is your first Oscar Nomination but the second for The Warsaw Film School will there be any nerves ahead of the ceremony in March?

Even though our film has a very good chance of winning an Oscar - I will not be stressed too much. It seems to me that we have achieved a lot, we have moved society, we have shown what needs to be fixed and I hope that thanks to this we will really start to change the world for the better. The statuette would only be a beautiful culmination of this adventure, a confirmation of the fact that together we have done something that matters.

The Live-Action Short Film is perhaps one of the most significant categories at the Academy Awards because the award shines a much-needed light on Short Film. For most of the audience only get to enjoy short films during a film festival what more can be done to make Short Films more accessible to wider audiences?

I think that anyone who is even a bit interested in short films knows how valuable, necessary, important and ... difficult it to make such films can be. I am all the happier that short films are starting to play an increasingly important role in cinema. People are beginning to notice it, which is why more and more short films can be seen in cinemas, on streaming platforms ... I think streaming platforms are the best place to present such films - let's distinguish them, let's allocate them to separate categories, playlists. It is wonderful how many important topics can be covered in such a short time, in fifteen or thirty minutes.

The_Dress_Still05.jpg

"I have no doubt that it is one of the best film schools in Europe and in the world at the moment."

What was the inspiration behind The Dress and what was the message you wanted to convey with this short film?

There were many inspirations, ranging from various types of articles, documentaries, blogs, films, to Anna Dzieduszycka herself, who played the main role, without whom this film would not exist at all. With Anna, we discussed the entire script, changed it, and made joint decisions about what we wanted to tell. We believe that despite the fact that the world is slowly changing for the better, there is still a lot to be fixed, characteristic people, people with short stature or people with disabilities still have to deal with a huge lack of empathy, and according to many studies - also with violence, physical, psychological or sexual. Our film aims to shake up society, not let us settle on our laurels and forget that there is still a lot of evil in the world.

When working on a short film like The Dress how important is it for you to be flexible with your screenplay, do you prefer to keep to the text how you wrote it?

I am not a director who treats my script as sacred. On the contrary - I believe that it only sets a certain direction for the team, but we should all create the story together - this was also the case on the set of "The Dress". My cinematographer - Konrad Bloch - insightfully compared us to a jazz band. We had to listen a lot, sometimes improvise, observe, everyone had a huge artistic contribution to the shape of this film. This is the way I like to work.

What has been the most valuable lessons you have taken from your time at the Warsaw Film School and making The Dress?

This school taught me everything. Warsaw Film School is a truly amazing place that not only teaches you the basics of filmmaking but also helps you expand your mind and be a keen observer of reality. I have no doubt that it is one of the best film schools in Europe and in the world at the moment. While working on "The Dress" I learned how important casting and trusting my actors is. On this trust, you can build truly captivating stories.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking? 

Storytelling is my passion. It just so happened that I fell in love with cinema the most, but I think I might as well paint, make music, write - just express myself and my perspective on the world. When it comes to my passion for filmmaking - it started when I saw Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards in the cinema. Then I realised that you can make original, subjective films.

THE_DRESS_edited.jpg

Since your debut short has your approach to the way you write/direct your films changed much and do you have any tips or advice for emerging filmmakers?

I think the most important lesson for me was the approach to telling difficult, serious, committed stories. I realized that such films have to be mixed with elements of brightness, warmth and laughter. That is why during the "The Dress" screenings you can hear how the audience laughs so often. Together with the whole crew, we tried very hard to ensure that this film never played on one note, that it would be contrasting - because that's how life is after all. It is never black and white, it is woven from shades of grey.

 

And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from The Dress?

I dream of a world where our height, weight, the way we dress, the colour of our skin or our origin no longer count. It seems to me that we are striving in this direction more and more boldly. However, there is still a lot of evil in the world. People are rejected, judged and are often victims of violence. Our film touches upon this evil and exposes it to the light of day. Not to bring everyone down, but to try and find a happy ending in real life - where it is needed the most.