The name of Karolina Szablewska’s first film—Smoulder—might well apply to her NSCAD University experience.
A Harrison McCain scholarship winner, she arrived at NSCAD University already identifying herself as a painter—she’d been painting seriously since she was a kid living in Poland. But while the Studio Practice Paint/Print class in Foundation year didn’t exactly stoke her interest, two other classes—Studio Practice: Intermedia and Foundation Video—did. The passion burned slowly at first, but now has burst into full flame.
“I thought I would be a painter, and I am, but I’m a painter who makes films,” says Karolina, who emigrated with her family from Poland in 1998 and became a Canadian citizen two years ago. “I compose scenes as an artist—using more unconventional symbolism in the creative direction of a film rather than being more concerned with framing a good performance.”
As a scholarship winner, she feels an obligation to make the most of her NSCAD experience. “The school has put its faith in me and I’m really trying to make good on that investment by creating something significant.”
Smoulder was shot on location in Jeddore, a fishing community on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore, over two bitterly cold days in March. The surreal short film tells the story of a repressed teenage girl who breaks free of her mother’s control and societal expectations during a bonfire party. Made on a $1,000 budget for Sol Nagler’s Film 2 class, it has been accepted to the Montreal and Atlantic Film Festivals. Karolina pays credit to the hard work and talent of Smoulder’s cast and crew—“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” she says.
Karolina is beyond thrilled and intimidated too to have it shown in front of strangers, she confesses. Smoulder has only been screened once, and that was in front of an audience of classmates, friends and professors. “Your friends will always say you’ve done a good job; they’re much less critical,” she reflects. “But other people? What if they don’t get it at all?”
Karolina Szablewska was awarded the Harrison McCain scholarship in fall 2008.
| Karolina Szablewska’s first film Smoulder was showan at the 2011 Atlantic Film Festival.|