Magazine article Screen International

Marcin Koszalka, 'The Red Spider'

Magazine article Screen International

Marcin Koszalka, 'The Red Spider'

Article excerpt

The debut of Polish director Marcin Koszalka will world premiere in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The Red Spider is the eagerly awaited debut feature film from Polish director Marcin Koszalka.

Set in 1960s Krakow, the film follows young man Karol who - after discovering the body of a young boy - becomes obsessed with the serial killer known as 'The Red Spider'.

After tracking down the man he thinks is the killer, Karol soon finds his obsession with death will start to take his life down an ominous route.

Koszalka has gained notoriety for his documentary work (for example his brilliant film Declaration of Immortality won the Best Documentary Film under 30 minutes at the 2011 edition of Karlovy Vary) and his cinematography on such Polish hit films as Rewers. He brings a formal and carefully constructed style to The Red Spider in which the coldness of 1960s Poland is mirrored by that of the two main protagonists. But the film eschews the clichés of the serial killer film with Koszalka preferring ambiguity over easily found conclusions.

With the film due to have its world premiere in the Karlovy Vary International Competition, Screen caught up with him to ask about the film and just what inspired him to make it.

Can you tell us a little about the real life crimes that inspired The Red Spider and what was it that drew you to the film in the first place?

The first story that inspired me was about Karol Kot - a teenager serial killer from Krakow. Although he killed only two people, he became a legend. The second inspiration was the story of The Red Spider, a serial killer that has never existed but myth about him leaked to the West - despite the fact that we don't know the author of his biography. The Red Spider is known around the world as an urban legend. Both killers we meant to have committed their crimes in the 60s, in communist Poland, which I find even more fascinating.

You're famous for your documentary work. Was it daunting to move to a fictional feature film and was it important to you push the boundaries of what you have done before?

It wasn't so hard for me, because I was working as a DOP in features of others directors and that experience helped me to work on my own, as a director. I took a lot from my documentary filmmaking, especially when it comes to choosing actors and working on set. I didn't make the rehearsals, I just treated actors as characters of my next documentary.

How did you go about casting the two lead male actors?

Casting was the most important stage of my preparation. …

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