‘Fugue’ Director Agnieszka Smoczyńska on Visualizing Memory Loss

In the moody psychodrama “Fugue,” competing in the Polish films section at EnergaCamerimage, Agnieszka Smoczyńska explores memory loss and its devastating impact on family in her follow-up to “The Lure.” Utterly unlike her debut, which was a colorful, musical fantasy focused on mermaids, “Fugue” is a study in perception and emotion in which the lead and co-writer, Gabriela Muskala, is suddenly discovered wandering and returned to her family two years after disappearing.

What did you learn from your research into the woman who had gone through this actual breakdown?

It was a very strong experience. I was particularly struck by the fact that Maria never really came back from that “other world.” She was talking to us normally, she seemed to remember everything, and yet she seemed somehow suspended between two worlds: the real here and now and the one that wasn’t “real,” the one of her memories.

How did you go about trying to visually portray Alicja/Kinga’s struggle to grasp reality, as in the tense beach scene or the near-miss car collision with a deer?

As subjective as the storytelling is, we wanted the story itself to be framed objectively. Still, there is a scene in which we depart from that strategy: Alicja is revisited by very intense memories and images of her life she’d forgotten. Those images belong to the previous version of herself she feels disconnected with.

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