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Pawel facilitated "Philosophical Pictures' Laboratory" at  5th Philosophical Pictures International Film Festival.



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Krakow, Poland.  November/December 2008


This year the theme of the festival was a category of "dialogue".  During the workshop a group of young filmmakers explored dialogue on screen and analyzed the connections between concepts and images.                                                                                                       

Three videos were produced.   Each was an interpretation of a short dialogue ("On walking and crying") generously written for the workshop by Mikhail Epstein. For more info about the workshop, its assumptions and the Philosophical Film Festival click here.  



А. Let's go for a walk.

B. I cannot  walk. I want to cry.

A. ?

B. I cannot walk and cry at the same time. I need to stand still when I am crying.

A. To cry about what?

B. We have nowhere to go. We have this place, and thаt's  all.

A. Let's walk and cry together. That would be easier to do.

B. (walking) It's easier to laugh when you are walking.

A. Let's move faster, and then we could laugh.

B. It is funny indeed – to walk so fast. I'm laughing.

A. I'm laughing too. Let's run.

B. (running) Oh my goodness, how happy we are!

running out chess

 #1 Running out            #2 Chess                     #3  Elevator


(This dialogue has not been proouced yet, but is included to further stimulate a discussion.)

A. I feel like I am in love.

B. Are you sure?

A. I don't know.

B. With whom?

A. With somebody I don't know.

B. Could it be me?

A. I know you. I could be in love
only with somebody I don't know.

B. I don't know myself, how can you know me?

A. What do you mean by "know"?

B. It is quite possible not to know somebody whom
you know well.

A. Is it possible to love somebody whom you don't love?

B. Not to know somebody whom you know is the greatest knowledge.

A. To love somebody whom you know is the greatest challenge.

B. Still, could you?

A. I don't know. But I would love to.

B. "Love" is such a difficult word.

A. I never know how to use it. It is either too obliging or too negligible.

B. Let us be silent.


(This are excerpts from an ISUD e-mail forum and from others invited to participate.  For brevity in most cases I'll post here only the dialogue related parts of the emails, but wanted to thank for your encouragement and kind words. - Pawel)  


If you are interested in philosophy and visual art, you may visit SUNY press

advertizyng a new book of a philosopher Jorge Gracia
"Images of Thought", providing philosophical interpretations of seventeen
works by the Cuban American artist Carlos Estévez that engage such topics as self-knowledge, the nature of the universe, faith and reason, permanence and change, the self and the other, women and men, freedom and determinism, providence, and predestination.

In that web-page there is a link to read the first chapter.

New book by Jorge J. E. Gracia - Images of Thought
Samuel P. Capen Chair and Distinguished Professor
Dpts of Philosophy and of Comparative Literature
SUNY at Buffalo, Amherst, NY 14260
Gracia's webpage:
Cuban Art web page:

Dr. Edward Demenchonok 

Professor of Philosophy

Fort Valley State University,

President of International Society for Universal Dialogue 


                    1. Adam and Eve Expelled from the Paradise.

This may be a dialog of Adam (A.) and Eve (B.) who have been just expelled from the Eden. Then the sentence:

"B. We have this place, and thаt's all" 

has the subtext implying the loss of paradise.

The phrase:

"B. (walking) It's easier to laugh when you are walking"

intimates their first erotic impressions (touches, mutual glances).

The last cry, "Oh my goodness, how happy we are!" has the direct and obvious addressee: God.

2. Rodents in a Cage, Running Wheels.

It's possible to produce a popular science film with real hamsters, or mice, or squirrels, their facial expressions slightly modified by the computer.

At first we see only a corner of a cage. There the first part of the dialogue takes place. A. is a male voice, B.,  a female one.

А. Let's go for a walk.

B. I cannot walk. I want to cry.

A. ?

B. I cannot walk and cry at the same time. I need to stand still when I am crying.

A. To cry about what?

B. We have nowhere to go. We have this place, and thаt's all.

Then the film camera drives off. From a distance we see two wheels in the cage. A. jumps into the first wheel.

A. Let's walk and cry together. That would be easier to do.

B. jumps into the second wheel.

B. (walking) It's easier to laugh when you are walking

A. starts running, B. follows him.

A. Let's move faster, and then we could laugh.

B. It is funny indeed – to walk so fast. I'm laughing.

A. I'm laughing too. Let's run.

B. (running) Oh my goodness, how happy we are!

The camera moves away further. We understand that the cage is located in a shop window. From behind the glass  kids are looking at the running little animals and are shining with joy.

The subtitles are running across the screen from below upwards: "As neuroscientists have found, the physical activity is useful for the mental condition of aging rodents.  After five weeks of training  the number of new neurons in the brain of rodents of middle and old age doubled. This helps them to keep their brain healthy."

All this could be staged with humor but also with a tint of scientific approach.


Marina Vishnevetskaya
(Preeminent Russian author, the winner of many prestigious literary prizes.  Famous as a novelist and script writer, the author of scripts for many popular animation films.  -  M.Epstein)  


Dear Jerzy,
I am grateful to you for your most beautiful and metaphysically  convincing interpretation."The human will is  like a ship’s rudder. It can steer the ship only when the ship is moving." This is the key (in my view).


Pawel--thanks for inviting us to participate in this.  Here are my comments: 

I started by responding to some of the questions:
What does p. see when rdg. a dialogue?
If it is anecdotal, allegorical such as Plato's dialogues--especially narrative of the cave with so much detail provided, you can mentally picture the setting with many details--however, these are all metaphors that are intended to express something that in principle CANNOT be seen, only thought.  Consider the arbitrariness of the shapes and appearance of the alphabets.
Can abstract thnkg. be achvd. w/o images?
Abstract thinking MUST be achieved without images.
Do images contain ideas?
NO, this is the source of the Kantian/Copernican revolution.
What is the relationship between information and emotion in a dialogue?
Information as simple data is emotively neutral.  It is the relationship that any information has to other information and those who know/learn/contemplate that information that has impact.  In a dialogue information transferred or even simply thought in a train of consciousness can evoke elation, sadness, puzzlement, mirth, pride and many other emotive states depending on how it is assimilated by the mind attending/intending that content.
dia * logue = ex * change = something that results from a difference/movement/delta
Idea for visual to portray the action of Mikhail's two dialogues:  animate blobs/swirls of contrasting color--minimally it could be simply the reflection of all colors or white and the absorbtion of all colors or black.  Expression of each stage of the dialogue's development would occur at the boundaries and margins, where these colors meet and how they meet--the regions of difference/movement/delta.  Maybe these swirls would move on a field, or maybe they themselves would make-up the entire image.   

Jean A. Campbell
Language Specialist


The French thinker and writer Andre Maurois said that the human will is like a ship’s rudder. It can steer the ship only when the ship is moving.

The Movement, will and emotion are close to each other. The first word of the trio I write using the capital M for it describes the common to all living beings principle of directional change. Let us begin with its simplest example as described by the conversation. 

I. The physical movement.

The images that come to my mind are connected with sailing of a yacht. First situation (B crying). Lack of directional movement of the boat cause by complete lack of wind.(called in Polish “flauta”). This lack coupled to strong waves  is for sailors one of the most deplorable situations. All untied things move with different kinds of noise from starboard to port side and back, the too loosely tied boom swishes dangerously over unheeding heads, its difficult to write, cook or do anything orderly, seasickness takes its toll from the sensitive.  

When the wind comes again it brings order and relaxation to the faces. Now a direction- a particular course for the whole yacht and for all the doings inside it-can be reestablished. Faces turned to the wind, lungs full of wonderful clean sea air the magic and beauty of sailing begins.

When running with the wind (the “ back wind” course) is sufficiently fast a wonderful and not so often thing may happen to yachts). The  hull almost completely comes out of water with only the stern and rudder remaining in it. The whole boat multiplies its speed and if it happens at a sailing competition she becomes the winner. The crew and the helmsman are happy.

II. The mental movement

A man has (B from the dialogue) to write an important for him text. He hasn’t slept well (or too well) and mentally feels completely paralyzed, empty. He goes to fridge and drinks or eats something which makes him feel even worse .Everything distracts him. If he were a child he would start crying. And so on and on. Most of you who write something creative know such situations too well from their own experience. They could be illustrated in thousands of ways, for longer or shorter time.

Then (A from the dialogue) a friend happens to come .They may decide to write together or more likely he suggests him the general direction he should adopt. Perhaps they start “walking” together only over the first page and A leaves. B’s mind follows and develops the initial momentum.

B’s hands work quicker and quicker, he neither sees nor hears other people who in the mean time may come to his room. He is in euphoria of creation. He is happy.

Jerzy.Z.Hubert, Assoc.Professor
Synergetics and Social Synergetics
Dep.of Structural Research
IFJ PAN, Krakow, Pl


here are the images that came to my mind when reading the two dialogues:

1. On Walking and Crying
I saw two old people first, in wheelchairs perhaps, then as the dialogue progress, they morph into younger and younger people. The last sentence is spoken by a couple of teens running on a meadow.
2. On knowledge and love.
This dialogue I saw held between an old man and a computer. A is a person B a computer. When at the end the computer proposes to be silent, the man turns off the computer. I see it as a modern version of Krapps last Tape.

Dr. Werner Krieglstein
Professor of Philosophy
College of DuPage


About his idea of making the second dialogue between a man and a computer, Werner wrote:

Do you know Franz Xaver Kroetz, Request Concert. It is about a woman who get ready for work, then decides to kill herself, Totally without words. This would be a man in dialogue with a computer - looking at pictures that bring memories of love , then when the computer says lets be silent, he turns of the computer and takes sleeping pills and dies.

And this is Werner's take on an idea to place the first dialogue in bed:  


the couple in bed
A (turning over to him) I am excited to go for a walk.
B does not share excitement, sad; I cannot walk. I want to cry.
A wonders why. Makes another move to get him exited
B. a little angry, but still sad. I cannot walk and cry at the same time. ---- I need to stand still when I am crying.
A Cry about what???
B. with existentialist weight: We have nowhere to go. (tears) We have this place --- and that's all.
A. Tries again to make love but he is not into it. She is still optimistic and tries to spread her excitement.
B. he slowly gets into it, Starts moving his body.  A little out of breath) It's easier to laugh when you are walking.
A. She is real excited now. Let's move faster, and then we could laugh.
B. Can hardly catch his breath. Its funny, we walk so fast.
A. She is also excited and moving ever faster: I am laughing too. Let s Run.
B. Coming to climax. Oh my goodness, how happy we are.
They embrace without breath.

We agreed that, shooting the scene, it would be interesting to record the "bed" scenario twice, changing man and a woman as A and B. This reversal came from reading Ellen's comment.  - Pawel 



One thing I immediately wondered as I read the two dialogues was how gender plays a part in the images that the dialogue created in my mind. While reading I put myself in one of the roles, or briefly in both of the roles, especially in the second dialogue. So this makes me wonder about how we imagine ourselves in this process, and how that is different from when we see the film.

Not being a philosopher, I don't have the vocabulary to express this in the ways my colleagues in ISUD might. But because you will have a unique approach to the dialogue as you film it, and because you will not use ME in the film, the images will change significantly in my head when I see your interpretation of that dialogue. You might very well use a man and a woman to speak of love, for example, whereas I'm imagining having a dialogue in my mind with myself in both roles and being in love with the colors on a fall day, or with the idea of being alive. If you filmed two women or two men in that dialogue, or a parent and child, or an old person and young person, or two non-human beings, it would create such different images, sort snatching away my options of considering the meaning of that dialogue as you place your version of images in my imagination.

Ellen R. Hansen, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Social Sciences
Associate Professor, Geography
Emporia State University


I do think about how film changes the process of imagination. Being a voracious reader, I am always hesitant to see film adaptations of books I've enjoyed. We're all familiar with that sense of wrongness when the person cast in an important role is completely different from the way we've imagined them. I've also had that sense of wrongness about places - a house or landscape not being at all how I've imagined it. A light-hearted example is the difference between the Harry Potter books and the movies. I don't really like the movies because they're so different from the books, which I love and to which I have listened in audio book format rather than reading them on the page. I like listening to them much better than reading them, in part because the reader is so good at interpreting the characters, but also because I like my own mental images, which have been much different from many of those portrayed in the movies.

I also think of the attempt by the makers of the German film "Run Lola Run" to present various versions and possible outcomes of a story, and I can imagine your dialogues being made this way - filmed with various participants in the same or different settings to explore meanings.

I do think that presenting images, whether still images or moving, does lessen the need to imagine certain things, but done well can evoke lots of new images. This is art - right? - that power to evoke a response in the viewer. The response would shift qualitatively, though, if the visual image is supplied. So some other part of our imagination is stimulated.


One of the aims of the 2008 Philosophical Film Festival Workshop was to jump start a discussion. To-date the following responded (in a bottom up order).  Click a name to go to the comment: 

Edward Demenchonok
Marina Vishnevetskaya
Mikhail Epstein

Jean A. Campbell
Jerzy Hubert
Werner Krieglstein (2x)
Ellen Hansen (2x)

PAST FILM CLASSES:                                                                                                    

Pawel has been conducting various film directing classes since the early 90ties.  Some were independent, others through various academic institutions. Recently, working at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Pawel taught the following classes: "Filmmaking workshop for psychologists.", "Film directing as a tool of socio-psychological diagnosis.", "Screenplay: techniques of creating values and perceptions.", "Film psychology as applied by Ingmar Bergman and Darren Aranofsky.", "How film influences the audience: creating meaning through staging and editing."

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