Q1 2020

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68 C I N E M O N T A G E T A I L P O P Zygmunt Malanowicz in Polanski's "Knife in the Water." P H O T O : P H O T O F E S T Three Actors and a Boat When you graduate high school in Australia, all you want to do is travel the world. They call it a 'gap year.' I was no different, so in the summer of '92 and after saving up a whopping $2,000, I em- barked on a journey that would change my life. London was calling. Armed with a two-year working visa and plenty of nerves, I boarded a flight to Heathrow. This was pre-Internet, long before social media. I smoked on the plane! The sensation was one of utter isolation from the world I had known up until that point. As we descended into foggy London, I watched the concrete jungle emerge below me. For the first time in my life, I experienced the feeling of being utterly alone. Then I discovered Notting Hill. I knew nothing about this leafy part of London b u t w h e n T i m , a c o c k n e y l a n d l o rd , showed me a converted English mansion I felt at home. I picked a room on the fifth floor, handed over four weeks rent and, boom! my savings were gone. I needed a job and needed one fast. Fortunately, jobs were easy to come by back then and I did them all: French waiter, Italian waiter, English waiter — I waited a lot. One afternoon I wandered past a bistro in the middle of Soho and ordered a beer. Unbeknownst to me, they confused me for a job applicant who had failed to show. I got a spot immediately behind the bar at Café Boheme. The place was packed late into the night with cool, arty types inspired by the 19th century French poets who used to meet on Old Compton Street. That summer of '94 was a profound experience. Behind Café Boheme was a charming old art house cinema. I would walk past HOW 'KNIFE IN THE WATER' CHANGED MY LIFE and study the posters of films I'd never heard of. I was not much of a cinephile back then. I had grown up watching "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" but knew nothing of their relevance. In the 80's, my friends and I would rent VHS horror films for a laugh. I'd been to the movies of course, but I'd never really given film much thought. Music was more my thing. When I turned up for my usual shift one Sunday, there had been an error on the roster. The manager said she didn't need me. Rather than return home, I wandered over to the cinema. A film was about to begin: Roman Polanski's "Knife in the Water." The poster intrigued me, so I bought a ticket. I was the only person in the cinema as the film began. I'd never seen a black and white film before. But as the story began, I became entranced. Set in Poland, a strained husband and wife embark on a weekend away. While travelling along a country road, they pick up a random hitchhiker en route to their yacht. The rigidity between the two men combined with the sexual tension between the wife and hitchhiker propel the story. The film absorbed me in ways I couldn't yet explain. The minimal- ist jazz score by Krzysztof Komeda was stark and haunting. I was stunned that a film with only three characters could sustain my attention. It was gripping and I couldn't predict how it would end. For the first time in my life I sat and watched the credits roll. I wondered to myself: All these people got paid to make this film? As I left the cinema, the world looked d i f fe re n t . I fo u n d my s e l f o b s e r v i n g details in the architecture around me. I stared at strangers and wondered about their inner lives. For weeks I walked the streets, my Sony Walkman blasting jazz. I began conjuring up short films in my head. I felt inspired. I had changed. The clientele at Café Boheme were all artists or creative types and I yearned for a sim- ilar existence. Over the next few months I figured out what I needed to do: I gave my apron back and decided to apply for film school back home. Polanski, due to his legal problems, has grown unwelcome in our culture. Still, "Knife in the Water" changed the course of my life. As I learned later at film school, Polanski employed economic, imaginative filmmaking in this film about humiliation, sexuality, aggression and absurdity. Three actors and a boat. Curiosity propelled me to London, fate led me into the cinema and eventual- ly determination got me into film school. Ultimately, I discovered editing, which fused my love of music and imagery. Sto- ry and structure. Traveling continues to inspire and eventually led me to relocate my family to Los Angeles. I still feel like I'm on a gap year all these years later. Perhaps I am. ■ Duane Fogwell is an award-winning Australian director and editor. He currently lives in Los Angeles editing scripted and unscripted television. By Duane Fogwell

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