Poland has generated some fresh class distinctions since communist days, a development examined with a shrewd and merciless eye in the country’s Oscar-submitted feature Never Gonna Snow Again. The central figure is a mysterious private masseur, played by the UK-based actor Alec Utgoff, who goes door-to-door carrying with him a folding massage table through a wealthy gated community to offer is services to the numerous and invariably dissatisfied people living in the virtually identical houses.
“He is an alien that invades this society,” Utgoff says during the film’s panel discussion at Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event. “I feel the film, in general, is sort of a philosophical collaboration.”
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The directors are Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert, who began their relationship 15 years ago as a romantic couple. That phase is now history, but their creative collaboration continues apace. “It’s proof that a collaboration between female and male directors is possible,” says Szumowska. “We are still young and we are still kind of married but we are married to film together.”
The concept of gated communities for the rich is quite a new thing for former Eastern bloc nations, but Englert maintains that, “It’s quite common. This is something that kind of describes this pretty fresh democracy fascinated by capitalism. Poland is one of these countries.”
The filmmakers had to pretend that they were potential buyers in order to get into the community. “That was the only way to get through the gate. It’s a tendency which is also terrifying, how the people in Europe are also trying to protect themselves from, in a wide meaning, the unknowns,” Englert says.
Szumowska, who has a teenage daughter, adds that, “The children are raised in a French school, which is useless, I would say. So it’s kind of a snobbish thing. In that class, there’s a lot of people from Ukraine who are working for Polish people right now. Of course, the language is connected with Russian dialects, so it shows the class thing in Poland very strongly.”