Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Lena Góra not only about the film “Imago”: My story, so intimate and private

Lena Góra she is a talented actress. He is only 33 years old, but he is already taking the Polish film market by storm. She gained experience on foreign sets. At the age of 16, she went to London, and after four years she settled in the United States, where she graduated, among others, The Actors Studio in New York and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.

She is the daughter of the painter Sławomir Góra and the vocalist of the Tri-City band Pancerne Rowery, Ela “Malwina” Góra. Exactly that her mother's life became an inspiration for her to write a film script together with Olga Chajdas “Imago”. The story tells the story of a young woman craving life amid the grayness of the Polish People's Republic. It talks about the mother-daughter relationship, the hunger for freedom and meditation. Its background is the rebellious Tri-City music scene of the late 1980s, a cultural and social phenomenon of that period and an announcement of revolutionary changes in Poland.

For her role as Eli in this film, Lena Góra received an award for the best leading female role at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, and was also nominated for this year's Eagles in the Best Female Leading Role category. The actress was also nominated for the Award in 2023. Zbyszek Cybulski.
Currently, viewers can watch her in a new TVP production “We will live together”. In the series she plays Basia Lipińska. She also played a great role in an American-Polish film “Roving Woman”.

On April 18, the screening of “Imago” will open the 12th edition of the Script Fiesta Film Festival. After the screening, there will be a meeting with the film crew.

In the film “Imago” by Olga Chajdas, you not only played the main role, but also co-authored the script, which you created based on the biography of your mother, Ela. When did the idea to tell this story come to your mind?

– Often we are not aware of what is handed to us on a plate. We also don't know who our parents were before we came into the world. My mother's story was revealed to me while writing the script. As it turned out, I had no idea about it before. I flew to Poland from Los Angeles and, together with Olga Chajdas, we went on a journey into the past. We met many people who were once close to my mother. We listened to many stories, and I kept writing them down in my notebook. I went to Script East with the first draft of the script and continued to create the story under the supervision of mentors from all over the world. During the Cannes festival, I received an award for my screenplay. It was so unexpected and so wonderful. Such a driving engine. Then I really started to believe that we would create a valuable work, that my story, so intimate and private, could become universal.

Few actors have the opportunity to “step into the skin of their mother”. How did you feel about it?

– A mother is a being with whom you are closely bonded, often for life. We are not always able to cope with it, because this relationship can be difficult. Yet a parent should be a parent, not a human being. And I saw something simpler in her – a heroine. Only then did I understand her behavior, desires, thoughts and stopped constantly passing judgment on who she was or was not a parent. Working on the script was a kind of release. In turn, acting is a challenge. It was space for me. When I had the opportunity to watch the film on the big screen for the first time, during the festival in Karlovy Vary, not only I was moved, but I also felt the whole room shake. (…) I got into Ela so deeply that I became a completely different person. That wasn't me on screen. I had her movements, her features, even her facial nervous tics.

I wonder how your family reacted to the film. Were you afraid of criticism from them?

– Very. Not everyone in my family is an artist, and I feel that artists find it easier to understand some things. I haven't had contact with my mother's side of the family, which is presented in the film, for years. I met with them while writing the script, I had to ask them for permission. Getting to know them again after many years, with tables full of food for my visit, smiles on their faces and total trust, was amazing for me. Everyone appeared at the festival in Gdynia and watched “Imago”. And most importantly, I wanted no character to be presented as a laurel. This is why each hero could see himself in a real version, which, let's face it, is not easy at all and can even be terrifying. But not for them, they were just proud of me. I am extremely grateful to them for this. (…)

As you admitted, you had the opportunity to learn about your mother's story from before you were born. Have you found common features that unite you?

– It's natural that we get certain features from our parents. Fortunately, we can divide them into those that we want and those that we do not want to duplicate. This is our decision and it is worth remembering. I consciously thought about what I am and what I want to be. My mother gave me many wonderful qualities that I proudly use today. Ela was very strong, but it was intuitive and unconscious for her. Even though it wasn't always easy, she fought for her freedom and not to have to submit to what others said. (…) Today I often say that it is not worth surrounding ourselves with people who tell us that we are not allowed to do something. Often it is unconsciously and they “mean well”, but they clip our wings. My mother didn't develop her feelings either, because in a way she was afraid of becoming a mother and thought she should behave somehow to meet society's judgment. And I would like women who are mothers today not to have to take off their wings at all. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Do you feel like a free person?

– Freedom is a huge word, overused, meaning for everyone what they want. I try to watch out for them. When it comes to giving space to yourself and the people around you, so that everyone can be who they want, I'm all for it. And not letting anyone clip our wings. I myself have often felt that people do not like the fact that I believe that everyone can be happy, can not be afraid of anything, not judge, not look at others, do their own thing and be successful. Many parents raise their children in fear, and I believe that fear is the worst thing we can teach.

Aleksandra Wojtanek/AKPA