picture: Partek Białowiczski
Bremen director Kristen Gisor not only tells a love story in “Gosia @ Tomek” – she also shows how much is being asked of caring relatives.
Josiah Romankovska’s husband has been severely disabled since an accident – and so the Pole became a caring relative at a very young age. She takes care of him every day, sincerely, takes him everywhere with her and writes him emails every day – hoping that one day he will wake up and be able to read everything that has happened since the accident.
The story of the couple is told in the film “Gosia @ Tomek”, which will be shown today in Glocke in Bremen on the occasion of the Day of Care for Relatives All Over Europe. Director in Bremen Kristen Gesor accompanied Josiah and Tomek for more than a year. We spoke to Jezior.
- Mrs. Jesor, when you think of your movie ‘Gosia @ Tomek’, what feelings does it evoke in you?
- Certainly optimistic. I learned a lot from this movie. I didn’t know there were still people like this in this world. I tried to compare myself, wondering if I could. I thought a lot about whether a man could sacrifice himself as Josiah did. I say from the start: I couldn’t do it. I also feel guilty every now and then because I made this movie.
- The film evokes very different emotions: on the one hand, you feel very sorry for the situation, this blow of fate, and you are touched. On the other hand, “Gosia @ Tomek” is a beautiful story of solidarity, love and optimism. Are these two levels that make up the film?
- Yes, I think that is the case. But I have to say: I’m a funny director because I don’t analyze my films. Many people ask me about my films: What do you mean by that? But I don’t know it myself. I just make movies the best I can. But that’s why I don’t know, for example, whether it’s a good idea to be so close to someone if they don’t let you. This question has always bothered me.
- Does this have anything to do with the guilty conscience you just talked about?
- yes. I had bad conscience during the shooting.
- First, let’s jump in a bit before you start shooting. How did you know the story of the two?
- I met Gosia several years ago in Bremen, at that time she was 19 years old. A Polish family visited here and Gosia was there too. I only spoke to her a few sentences and then thought: What a beautiful girl – and what a character! Since then I have been asking about her constantly. She understood that she went to college, got a job, got married, then broke up and finally met someone new. That was tomic. And at some point, I opened Facebook and saw the two of them there: He’s severely disabled. Then I read her story – Josiah wrote a little text about it because she wanted to raise money. And all of this moved me so much that I called her. I knew right away: I had to do something.
- What did you say to me?
- We wrote and found that she emails Tomek every day – hoping that one day he will wake up and be able to read everything that has happened in his life. I was allowed to read a few of these emails and had the impression that Gosia wasn’t doing really well. Then I thought: I will fly quickly from Bremen to Poland, to Monday. I stayed there three days, and then it dawned on me: I had to shoot a movie. No matter what happens.
Josiah later told me I saved her with that. Not because I came. But because she had a goal again. The purpose of making this movie.
Kristen Gesor, Bremen director
- So didn’t you have to convince Josiah for so long?
- No, but it is very strong. She said that she makes the film on one condition: that it will not be a movie about her, but about Tomek. Well, I said, it’s not easy – but I tried. And now there is only one shot in the movie, one without Tomic.
- How did you build a relationship with Tomek?
- I think we all have issues with disabled people. everybody. If someone suddenly becomes disabled or falls into a coma like Tomek, we can’t handle that situation. We don’t know how to act. I am the same. I’m no better that’s why I’ve always had a problem. Even friends who could not handle this situation. When they visited him – at first it became less frequent, now they don’t come at all – they did not look at him at first. They greeted Josiah but not Tomic until Josiah pointed them out. That’s why I always told my team: If we go there, we’ll wash our hands first and then salute Tomic.
- I have accompanied Gosia and Tomek for over a year. How was it when the movie ended?
- We had a lot of success, we didn’t expect it at all – but unfortunately not in Germany, that surprised me. Before we even started shooting, I found a company that distributed the films and they were actually very interested in the movie. When the movie ended, they didn’t even see it. This was in the pandemic and they said they couldn’t bring this movie to the cinema, it’s not the time: people are screwed up and are now looking for an optimistic movie. This totally blew my mind. I understood that they have to make money, the cinemas are empty. I understand that, but I was also very disappointed.
- In society, we talk a lot about inclusion, about the fact that people with disabilities must be included in society. At the same time, it is very difficult to make a movie on this topic. Do you feel that integration already exists in Germany?
- I don’t think it’s as bad in Germany as it is in other countries. But that’s because a lot of things are technically going well: those affected get help, they get money. If someone complained about it, they would have no idea how things would go elsewhere. In Poland, for example – it wasn’t shown in the movie, it wasn’t discussed – the two are having a very hard time. It’s a disaster, almost criminal, what’s going on there. As a disabled person, you have no chance in this country. It’s really not bad in Germany.
But what struck me was the unacceptability of disabilities: they are gone. It is really tight.
Kristen Gesor, Bremen director
I also tried it at the Bremen Film Festival: many of my films have always had a good presence, I have my own audience, but many did not come to “Gosia @ Tomek” because of the theme. Many wrote to me: I cannot do this myself.
- what is the reason?
- We can’t live with a disability because these pictures drive us crazy. People donate money, no problem, but face them like that? That’s why Gosia does something really great: she takes Tomek with her wherever she goes.
- Does it take people like Gosia to achieve acceptance? To live integrating into society?
- Yes, we need more Gosias. That’s why I think it’s great to take her everywhere with her. But we can’t accept disability with our own eyes, that’s how I feel. We can’t take the picture. When you see a person like that, you get over him faster because you think: I can’t look at him that way. why?
You’re also looking at a pretty woman on the street for a while longer, but we’re walking away from the snag.
Kristen Gesor, Bremen director
- You said at the beginning of the conversation that you asked yourself if you could also do what Josiah does. They came to the conclusion: they could not. why?
- I can do it for my child. without question. all life. But Josiah was 32 when it happened. She was in that relationship, she wanted to have a job, she made it work, she came from a well-off family, she was able to achieve a lot. However I backed off. I couldn’t do it. Of course I would take care of my husband – but I could not give up my life. And Josiah had to do without everything.
- Are you still in regular contact with Josia and Tomic? how are you?
- Gosia always had hope, now she’s not what she used to be. She thinks Tomic can still wake up, but she knows it will take patience. The two built a new house, very far away, in the woods. They will move in by Christmas. On Thursdays they come to Bremen, in the gondola – except when Tomic is ill. Josiah does not come alone. But she organized everything. She told me that if only two or three people understood what they were doing, it was worth a visit to her.
- Is Gosia still writing emails to Tomek?
- yes. every day.
This topic is in the program:
Putin on Benin, October 6, 2022, 7.30 pm