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MS Slavic 7-2019

MS Slavic 7

MS Slavic 7

As film industry reviewers, we say MS Slavic 7 is one of our non-favorite movies. Please VOTE!

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At once deconstructing and participating in a search for meaning, MS SLAVIC 7 interrogates the tragic beauty and transcendent potential of human connection.

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About MS Slavic 7 💬

After being appointed literary executor, a young woman named Audrey Benac (Deragh Campbell) uncovers a series of letters that her great-grandmother had written to a fellow poet. Both displaced from Poland, Zofia Bohdanowiczowa and Nobel Prize nominee Józef Wittlin corresponded from 1957-1964 between Toronto, Wales and New York City. Set over the course of three days, Audrey embarks on a journey to Houghton Library at Harvard University to translate and make sense of Zofia's words. Coming up against her aunt's disapproval as well as complications of access to the material, Audrey struggles to dig into an intimate past while facing her own existentially troubled present. Between silent segments of handling the letters at the archive and discursive monologues that articulate her findings, the film traces the emotional movement through the research process.


Q: What inspired the film?

Sofia Bohdanowicz: It began with the discovery of letters that belonged to my great-grandmother Zofia Bohdanowiczowa. I had already created a body of work based on her poetry and was doing research online to see what more I could find. I came upon the archive at Houghton Library at Harvard, where I discovered 24 letters written in Polish between her and a fellow poet, Nobel Prize nominee Józef Wittlin. I contacted Harvard, had them scan the letters and spoke with Deragh about making something about them. She then came up with a concept for a film that unfolds over three days.

Q: You've made several films together but this is your first co-direction. Can you talk about the nature of your collaboration?

Sofia Bohdanowicz: Our working relationship is seamless. I can insert Deragh into any circumstance or situation and she will deliver an interesting and consistent performance. In the character we've created, she really completes the conversation and ideas. It's very much a collaboration and now we have this body of work we're continuing to build on. This didn't start as a co-direction; Deragh came up with the concept and was going to get a writing credit and we had a collaborative dialogue, but when I sat down to edit I wasn't sure where to go and relied on her vision to navigate what we were working on. It was great to have someone else's voice be part of the creation of the film.

Q: Deragh, what is it like being brought into something so intimate and helping construct it?

Deragh Campbell: I've been working in microbudget film for six years now and there is already a certain intimacy to that, but with Sofia, our collaboration feels different. Being part of the edit for my own performance was interesting because you're the best person to detect when you're being false. I could see when I was absorbed and when I wasn't. What you want as a performer is to be available, to be able to reveal yourself. I'm not trained as an actor and I've realized I have a lot of defenses up. With Sofia, it's the most available I've ever seen myself. When I'm nervous my face can become inexpressive, but in Sofia's films my face moves more than in other films. It's a testament to how I feel so completely comfortable, and that comes out of how she's the most respectful and generous director.

Q: Could you talk about the obstacles Audrey faces in trying to preserve Zofia's legacy, from both her family and from the archive?

Sofia Bohdanowicz: Archives are there to preserve, to hold, and to restore different objects and artifacts - and that's a positive thing. However, what I find difficult when I'm doing research, whether on my family or Kathleen Parlow [the subject of Veslemoy's Søng ] is that institutions control the access we have to various historical objects. At some point it's problematic. It's something we wanted to point to because there's a dissonance with Audrey's family history: it's in an archive and it's being preserved, but she has limited access to it. If an archive isn't there, then no one is taking care of it, but what's the point of taking care of it if you can't access it? In a family, certain people feel like they have ownership over history and just because a family member cares about it more, like Audrey, doesn't mean she owns it more.

The character of aunt Ania (Elizabeth Rucker) wasn't appointed literary executor and since Audrey was, there's jealousy in the mix which leads to Ania questioning her competence. There's this hierarchical structure within families, where if you're younger you're automatically looked down upon or spoken to in a condescending way. You're seen as a child even when you're an adult. Ania is a curator and Audrey is treading into her territory and thinks she can step in and do it herself.

Deragh Campbell: We were interested in showing how family is part of your identity and can be positive and fulfilling, but can also cause you a lot of pain. In researching her family, Audrey is facing insecurities that are largely formed by familial expectations. Neither Audrey nor her aunt are right or wrong. Audrey cares more, so she wants to make her great-grandmother's work active and Ania sees it as bratty entitlement. There can be a weird sense of dignity to leaving family history untouched, in referring to it but not going too far.

There's a beautiful sense of tactility in the film, how did you approach the letters formally?

Sofia Bohdanowicz: At first, Audrey is looking at the letters as physical objects, focusing on their materiality, really hearing and feeling the sounds. I spent a lot of time foleying with paper so you really felt how crisp they were, how delicate. It was important because she's interested in the letters as objects more than for their emotional content. We wanted to explore objects as talismans. What kind of special powers they hold, what have they been through and absorbed? It was important for Audrey to experience the weight of that history and what it meant to be holding the letters in her hand even if she didn't understand what they meant.

MS Slavic 7 Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Deragh Campbell

Sofia Bohdanowicz

Writing Credits

Deragh Campbell

Sofia Bohdanowicz


Deragh Campbell

Mariusz Sibiga

Elizabeth Rucker

Aaron Danby

Cinematography by

Sofia Bohdanowicz

Genre: Drama

Country: Canada

MS Slavic 7 Official Trailer

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