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Applausefor a Donkey An interview with Krzysztof Zanussi by Zdzislaw Pietrasik PIETRASIK: Many of our artistshave recently been actively involved in politics. Some have become Ministers, Senators, and Representatives. It seems to me you don't have the temperamentfor this. ZANUSSI: On the contrary, I really believe I do have the temperament and see myself as performing certain public functions. It seems to me that I've given clear evidence that I can be useful not only in the role of film director. Not long ago there was talk of your being a candidatefor Chairman of PolishRadio and Television. Since Mr. Drawicz [the current Chairman] mentioned it publicly, I won't deny it, although the Prime Minister's [Tadeusz Mazowiecki] negotiations are in fact confidential. Yes, my candidacy for this position was discussed and I want to emphasize very clearly that I did agree to it. But I was not able within the short time allowed me by the Prime Minister to free myself from all foreign contracts. More time was needed for my agents to find ways to withdraw from the contracts than he could afford. Still, I think maybe it worked out for the best, since I don't think that I would have been an ideal candidate for this unusually difficult position. Television today should give society a feeling of confidence. In order to accomplish that, people have to be replaced. I think that Mr. Drawicz, who suffered much more than I did, 21 is in a better position to be a strict judge of those who should have access to the antenna. Does that mean that someone who didn'tsuffer isn't credible? Well, you know, a bit less so. The suffering is an unquestioned trump card. Today many boast that they suffered. But really many did suffer. Certainly,but is this sufficient reasonfor glory? This is the way people get on the lists of the decent. Since those who suffered are the more decent ones, everybody tries to produce a certificate of decency. I never was imprisoned, and I feel terrible about it. On television this statement would come throughmore effectively because viewers would also be ableto see the way in which you saidit.But all right. What are decentpeople to do who never did time in prison? We must laboriously carry out our duties, conscious that for some time we are not going to be in the limelight. We are simply not much of an attraction today. It may just be a matter of one season, and certainly this esprit of the veterans will pass. In fact it's weaker than I had expected anyway. That veteranspiritaffected ourcinema,stillfeedingon memoriesofthe recent heroicpast, when it "knocked" the authoritiesandhadsociety behind it. I like to quote a certain remark by Jaime Sin, the Philippine Cardinal, the leader of the Church, who played a big role in overthrowing Marcos. When Sin appeared in Rome, he was welcomed here as a representative of the Church triumphant, and during the press conference, he was asked how he felt in this role. He answered that he felt like the donkey on which Christ entered Jerusalem. The donkey thought the applause was for him. Nice metaphor,a lesson in Christianmodesty. Yes. But it includes another message as well. I think it can be applied to the situation of artists in a society living under pressure. A lot of applause that we received through the years was only seemingly deserved by us. Applause for the donkey, then. Society was on our side because it was against the authorities. They applauded us because we somehow managed to deceive the authorities and to say more than they allowed us to say. Through the flexible and innovative 22 language [of cinema] we were able to introduce certain ideas which couldn't be expressed in another language. The audience knew this code and this is why we got that applause for the donkey. The censorshippretendedthat it didn't know the code. Censorship is a problem which concerns me very much, especially from the moral standpoint. Of course we can entertain each other with stories about what they cut out-which words and which details worried the censor...


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