Jestem / "I am" tells the story of Kundel, a boy searching for his place in life, his identity. After running away from an orphanage where he is treated as an outcast among outcasts by both his peers and the adults in charge, and being rejected a second time by his alcoholic mother, who had earlier abandoned him, the resolute 11-year-old finds a "home" on a deserted old barge on the outskirts of his hometown. He is still an outcast, but he is an outcast on his own terms, rejecting both patronizing charitable gestures and coercion by local thugs. In the process he makes one true friend, a girl from an affluent family who is also an outcast, despite living in material comfort.
"Jestem" is a film made with sensitivity and moderation, never exaggerating reality. Even so, the truth about that reality is harsh. The world of adults is a degenerated and cold world. Adults have no compunction about drowning unwanted kittens, and try to drown their sorrows in alcohol. That's why Kundel is a character who amazes us and makes us feel ashamed. In Kędzierzawska's film, not for the first time, it is children who try to salvage the remnants of humanity - as if in spite of everything and everyone. Kundel in shoes kept together with sticky tape, stealing bread from a shop window, becomes a heroic figure, surpassing everyone around him despite his 11 years of age, surpassing the hopelessness of the squalid Polish city outskirts where
he once had the bad luck to be born.
Anita Piotrowska, "Tygodnik Powszechny", 30 November 2005
Directed by Dorota Kedzierzawska
Cinematography by Arthur Reinhart
Music by Michael Nyman
Piotr Jagielski / Kundel
Agnieszka Nagórzycka / Kuleczka
Edyta Jungowska / Kundel's Mother
Barbara Szkaluba / Kuleczka's sister (as Basia Szkaluba)
Pawel Wilczak / Kuleczka's Father
Marcin Sztabinski / Chudy
Lucjan Bienkowski / Stary
Agnieszka Podsiadlik / Waitress
Elzbieta Okupska / Cook
Janusz Chabior / Guy
Przemyslaw Bluszcz / Policeman
Tomasz Beker / Young Policeman
Kevin Rolof / Young Kundel
Born 1st June 1957 in Łódź, she is a Polish director of feature and documentary films. Kędzierzawska graduated from the National Film School in Łódź in 1981 but prior to that had completed a course in cultural studies at the University of Łódź and studied film directing in Moscow for two years. Kędzierzawska is the director of several acclaimed films, such as Crows, Nothing, I Am, and Devils, Devils. In her films she concentrates on the experiences of disadvantaged children who contend with a difficult financial situation, rejection by adults, or both. Her characters are usually women, hopelessly fighting for the love of their men. Her most recent film, Time to Die (Pora Umierać, 2007), is a powerful black-and-white depiction of the daily life of an old woman named Aniela, played by Polish screen and stage legend Danuta Szaflarska.