FUGA

Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic 2018

Synopsis

Alicja suffers from memory loss and has rebuilt her own free spirited way of life. Two years later, she returns to her family and unwillingly resumes her role as wife, mother and daughter.

Her estranged husband and son do not recognise this woman who looks familiar, but behaves like a stranger. Feelings of alienation, love and revelations rekindle her interior flame.

FUGUE evokes the social taboos around motherhood and the pressure on women to accept maternity without hesitation or reflection, as though the biological capacity of giving birth means that every woman should be willing to be a mother.

Directors Statement

FUGUE is inspired by a true story. A few years back, the main actress Gabriela Muskała (who also wrote the script) and I watched a TV program about a woman who couldn’t remember her name or where she was from, nothing. During the broadcast a family member called the studio claiming that he was her father. She didn’t recognise the man’s voice, she didn’t even remember that she had a family. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to meet them. We decided to visit this woman and find out how and why her old self and her old life had been erased from her memory. How had it happened that one day she left home and vanished for many months? Why was nobody looking for her? How was it possible that she forgot her own child? How did she manage to go back to her old life after such a traumatic experience? How did she deal with coming to terms with the fact that she had been somebody else and that one day her love for her husband and son vanished and she became a totally new person?

We found out that this woman was suffering from dissociative fugue disorder, a rare psychiatric condition that can manifest itself in unplanned travel, leaving the family home, partial memory loss and change of personality. In one moment a life becomes a blank slate again. We took this condition as the starting point for our character Alicja. She has the chance to create life anew and she uses this opportunity to the fullest and then is suddenly thrown back into her forgotten past life. In my previous film, THE LURE, I explored issues of female identity by means of experimenting with musical and horror genres. In FUGUE, I focused on recreating the internal world experienced by Alicja, which is often dreamlike, surreal, and uncanny.

When I create a movie, a crucial part of my process is taking inspiration from paintings and photography. Here, I was drawing from the works of the Polish painter Alex Urban and American photographers: Brookie Didonato, Cristina Coral and Evelyn Benicova. The archetypes of female subjugation and redefining women’s role in society are the core of their work. To me, the story of Alicja touches on the themes of the essence of identity and personal freedom. To what extent is our thinking about ourselves, influenced by our environment and our past.

Director's Biography

Agnieszka Smoczyńska is a graduate of the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School in Katowice, Poland and has also participated in master classes at the Wajda Film School. She received a scholarship from The Minister of Culture and National Heritage for outstanding artistic achievement, the “My Talent for Poland” prize and the Golden Pen, awarded by the President of Poland. In 2015 her first feature film THE LURE experimented with the musical and horror genres and was recognised as the best debut at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Agnieszka Smoczyńska was hailed as the “Discovery of the year” at the Polish Film Awards.
THE LURE has received numerous awards at festivals world-wide, including Fantasporto, Sofia, Montreal, Vilnius and the Sundance Film Festival, where she received the Special Jury Prize for “a unique vision and design”, and subsequently released in countries such as the US, Japan and Taiwan (including a Criterion Collection Blu-ray release).
In 2017, Agnieszka was invited by the Sydney Film Festival, Variety and European Film Promotion to participate in the “European Cinema: Ten Women Filmmakers to Watch“ program. She is a recipient of the Global Filmmaking Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Filmography:
2018 – FUGUE
2015 – THE LURE
2010 – VIVA MARIA!, short
2007 – ARIA DIVA, short
2004 – 3 LOVE, short
2003 – THE HAT, short
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Agnieszka Smoczynska

Written by : Gabriela Muskala

Produced by : Agnieszka Kurzydlo

Director of Photography : Jakub Kijowski

Editor : Jaroslaw Kaminski

Production Design : Jagna Dobesz

Costume Design : Monika Kaleta

Hair & Make up Artist : Monika Kaleta

Composer : Filip Míšek

Sound Design : Niklas Skarp, Marcin Lenarczyk

Main Cast : Gabriela Muskala (Alicja/Kinga), Lukasz Simlat (Krzysztof)

Special Effects Supervisor: Michal Křeček

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Feature Film Selection 2018