2012 has been some year for Dutch director Sacha Polak.
In February she presented the world premiere of her debut
HEMEL, scripted by the increasingly prolific Helena ven der Meulen, in
Berlinale Forum. At the same festival she presented her short film BROER and
was assistant director on SNACKBAR (directed by her step-mother Meral Uslu)
which premiered in Berlinale Generation. The FIPRESCI award for HEMEL catapulted it towards a raft of top
festival selections and Polak herself towards a coveted Berlinale Residency
slot that will enable her to hothouse her next film LUNA towards readiness. On
top of all this she is, at time of writing, learning Turkish ahead of a future
project that she hopes to shoot in Turkey.
“It has been a hectic six months,” Polak concedes. “I
travelled a lot with HEMEL. I was very scared before the film was selected at
the Berlinale because I really wanted it to go to an international film
festival, so when I heard it was accepted for Forum I was really, really happy
and very relieved, and extremely excited. The festival was hectic and the award
was a real surprise. I felt honoured.”
“Then I flew to New York for New Directors New Films,” she
continues. “And came back for the premiere in Holland, then to Argentina for
the Bafici Film Fest, then Copenhagen and then Sydney. I had to stop, and say
no to Ireland, Mexico and Greece because I had travelled enough. Now I am here
in Turkey writing and finding a house in Berlin for the Residency. But it has
been great, like a dream.”
LUNA producer Marleen Slot of Amsterdam-based Viking Film
will attend the Residency for a week, as will the film’s screenwriter Helena
van der Meulen.
As in Polak’s debut feature, the main protagonist of LUNA is
a young woman driven by a need to untangle a psychological web created by the
complexities of her past. After her partner’s death, a woman discovers the
secret life led by her partner and realises that her life has been one great
lie. So she sets out on the road to resolve matters.
One area of concern for Polak is the inability so far to
entice a Dutch broadcaster to the project, although she is confident that the
Netherlands Film Fund will offer significant production support. “LUNA is a
bigger film that HEMEL and has more international potential. The distributor
Cinéart really want to do it, and the Film Fund seem to really like it, but
right now the situation is difficult as we can’t find a broadcaster. The
broadcasters support only 3 films per year and my area of work is only
interesting to the VPRO and NTR channels, I think. If you can’t convince your
own broadcaster to invest why would a foreign broadcaster do so? So that is
very difficult at the moment. I think we will raise the money for the film, but
it would ease my mind if a broadcaster came on board and to show faith in the
So after the success of her debut, and with considerable
interest in her latest project, does Polak feel any difference in the way she
is accepted by the industry? “I hope to make this film, but it may be difficult
to find the money," she responds. "There are so many directors out there and everybody needs a
piece of the funding pie. On the other hand I learned a lot from HEMEL. It was
my first feature, which was at times difficult to make, and I think the
experience made me stronger, a little more confident and resilient."
“Right now I
am happy with the script although we might make a few changes with script coach
Franz Rodenkirchen. But
it is nearly ready, and I don’t want too many more opinions about it from many
different people. Otherwise it will just get bigger and probably more mediocre.
But at the end of the Residency I hope to be ready to shoot the film. Helena,
Marlene, Franz and I will work
together to achieve this,” she concludes.