The Austin Chronicle

Satan Said Dance Shuffles the Life of a Young Woman

Katarzyna Roslaniec's portrait of a girl made from single moments from her life

By Marc Savlov, March 10, 2017, Screens

"Satan Said Dance doesn't have a linear succession," director Katarzyna Roslaniec clarifies from the get-go. "Particular scenes can happen at any time. It's a portrait of a girl made from single moments from her life and it's not important when what happened. The importance is just that it happened."

The girl in question is Karolina (Magdalena Berus), a narcissistic, sex, drugs, and rock & roller – engulfing twentysomething author and post-teen libertine hellbent on following a self-destructive whirlwind tour of 21st century cyber fame. She attempts to banish the dreaded sophomore writer's block via a barrage of selfies and wild affairs, but precious little introspection or sanity. But that's always what it's like, no?

Yet there's much more to this cinematic downward spiral and its ultra-real, Polaroid feel than at first appears, and the film has a complex, multimedia method to the madness at hand. For one thing, Satan Said Dance's aspect ratio is closer to television, aka "real life," than the usual widescreen production.

"From the very beginning," Roslaniec says, "it wasn't a traditional movie. This movie which you saw and which will be screened during the Festival is only a part of my whole idea. It's like, you pull out Polaroids from a box, it doesn't matter which was made later or before, only this captured moment is the point. The sense, the emotion, the feeling from this moment but all of them are making a portrait of you, of a person. To be more modern, it's like somebody's Instagram. There are photos and you can see many of them on one page, with no order. Once again, it doesn't matter what was earlier and later, only single moments from our life are remembered.

"That's why I can see the scenes from Karolina's life like a puzzle. But not a puzzle in one line but more like a 3-D Rubik's Cube. I can see them all together, and that's actually the main idea for this movie, that it's not a movie but The Cube."

She continues: "My dream and plan for this moment is to create an installation, The Cube, made from 54 squares, nine on every six walls and that is why Satan Said Dance is made, and viewed, through squares."

Add to that the film's heightened use of an often super-saturated color palette and its protagonist's constantly changing hairstyles – screaming neon pink, Marilyn blond, frowzy river-bottom brown – and you can sense the director, alongside her costume designer and art department, were consciously working overtime to create a subconscious reaction in the viewer. The result is, to put it mildly, intense.

"Every color speaks to one aspect of Karolina," Roslaniec points out. "You know that colors have meanings, and these meanings are very similar in every culture and every religion. What I discovered was that the colors of a Rubik's Cube are the same as the colors of the human chakras. There is red, which is the color of the first chakra, and that speaks to our physicality, everything that concerns our body. In the scenes in red, the movie talks about Karolina's acceptance of her body, her eating problems, and so on. The second chakra is orange and it concerns sexuality, so Karolina's sex problems are shot in orange. Then there's yellow, which concerns the ego in chakras, and in the movie there are scenes about being in the center of your world. The green chakra talks about Karolina's relationship with other people. Blue is about communication and Karolina expressing herself – in the movie these are scenes about her writing, about being a writer. And then the last color is white. It's opposite to red and it's about your spiritual life. It's about being outside of your body. It's about death.

"I shot nine scenes in each of these colors," she continues, "using scenography, costumes, makeup, and also with the different cameras. They are square and each of them has two minutes. That's why it's possible to build The Cube installation where on each of 54 squares there will be one scene, screening over and over again. A spectator will be able to watch these scenes in every way and in any order that they want. You'll be able to walk around and watch whatever scenes you like and it always will be the story of Karolina. Her portrait."

Satan Said Dance


Friday, March 10, 9:30pm, Alamo Ritz
Saturday, March 11, 4pm, Alamo South Lamar
Wednesday, March 15, 10pm, Alamo South Lamar

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