Imagine, directed by Andrzej Jakimowski will be screened on October 12 and 13 during Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles
Ian, a spatial orientation instructor, arrives at a world-renowned Lisbon clinic for the visually impaired to work with blind patients. It is his task to help them become more confident and allow them to explore their surroundings without feeling vulnerable or afraid – and without a white cane. The clinic’s international community greets his unorthodox methods with both anticipation and skepticism.
For Ian, orientation flows from the mind and imagination – then sensory perception follows. He quickly wins the trust of his patients: a small group of children and young adults of various nationalities. His techniques intrigue them and embolden them to explore their surroundings. He even motivates the reclusive Eva to engage on a social, possibly romantic level. But are his techniques as safe as he claims? Director Andrzej Jakimowski finds imaginative ways to put the audience in a blind person’s shoes in this engrossing and original drama.
Bijan Tehrani: What motivated you to make Imagine?
Andrzej Jakimowski: I think we can learn a lot from blind people and it can be a very interesting lesson, even entertaining. There was a blind man living next door in my house when I was a student. I often thought about him and I thought about filming his world but I had no idea how to do it. Recently it became more clear for me. That’s why I started writing the script.
BT: Imagine has a unique story and you brilliantly have made the audience to become part of the story and feel deeply for the characters, how have you made this possible?
AJ: I’m happy to know about that, thank you. In the final stage of editing I’m usually lost and confused. After watching the film so many times I don’t know which scenes are too long. At that time I observe reactions of people who watch the film by chance, for example accidental visitors in the editing room. Especially children are helpful. If they start to watch, it means the fragment of the film is good. It is good as long as they don’t want to stop watching.
BT: Is Ian based on a real person or is his character all fictional?
AJ: I heard about some blind people able to find their way in the space thanks to the sound of their steps. For example Ray Charles. This is how the idea of my main character, Ian, was inspired. Ian used for spatial orientation only the sound of his shoes and snapping fingers. However, when the first draft of the script was ready, I read about Ben Underwood and echolocation. After research on this subject I wrote the script again. Since that time Ian was also tongue-clicking, like Ben. I also admired Ben’s attitude towards life and his disability. I think this influenced Ian even more than the technique of echolocation. There were also other blind people who inspired me or helped me to make the film. Alechandro Navas and – especially – Henryk Wereda, blind instructor of spatial orientation for blind children in a school near Poznan in Poland.
BT: How did you find your cast for this film and how did you manage to work with such a large cast (as there are several key characters in the film)?
AJ: We conducted casting in 4 countries and finally we formed an international group of blind actors. Since my technique is often documentary, all children contributed to the film with their natural behavior and spontaneous reactions. They were creative and contributed a lot to the film.
BT: The visual style of the film is playing a great part in telling Imagine’s story, how did you come up with this visual style?
AJ: The main characters are blind and they perceive only fragments of the surrounding world. I think this is very cinematic. It always makes us curious to see more than a fragment. It wakes our imagination.
BT: The sound track of the film is also masterfully done. Did you come up with all the audio ideas while writing the screenplay?
AJ: Yes. I think the main audio idea is very simple. There are only ordinary sounds of everyday life on the sound track. However, sometimes we take them out of context. This is enough to free our imagination.
BT: What has been the reaction of audiences to Imagine in Poland and other countries?
AJ: Imagine has been received very well and released theatrically in Poland, Russia and Turkey up to now. France and Germany in October 2013 and January 2014.
BT: Do you think Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles could help promoting Polish films in US to find possibilities in distribution?
AJ: All ways of promoting are important for European films. Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles is a showcase for best Polish productions and co-productions. It draws the attention of distributors interested in European cinema.
Imagine screening dates and times: (Buy tickets on-line)
Laemmle’s Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90025
Saturday, October 12, 2013 (in person: Andrzej Jakimowski, Ewa Jakimowska)
9:00 p.m. IMAGINE by Andrzej Jakimowski (105 min.)
Laemmle’s NoHo7 Theatre, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
Sunday, October 13, 20113 (in person: Andrzej Jakimowski, Ewa Jakimowska)
9:00 p.m. IMAGINE by Andrzej Jakimowski (105 min.)