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The Successful Premiere
LIGHTCHASERS is captivating, intriguing, and beautifully filmed.
By Malgorzata P. Bonikowska

When director Rafal Sokolowski stood in front of the audience prior to the premiere of his film debut, he must have felt a great deal of satisfaction. The theatre of the Innis Town Hall was nearly full. He must have felt even more satisfied after the screening when his film met with thunderous applause.

The 15-minute short LIGHTCHASERS won the hearts of the premiere audience. Long after it ended, I overheard many compliments in the theatre’s lobby.

LIGHTCHASERS is captivating, intriguing, and beautifully filmed. It is made with great attention to detail and flawless execution. It is played strongly by an impressive cast: Brent Carver, Wendy Lyon, and young, today only 15 years old, Stephen Suckling. The film has a powerful original score composed by Ivo Paunov, with whom Rafal has collaborated for over a decade. It was on their trip to Equador that Rafal ‘dreamt’ this story.

Indeed, the film has a dreamy feel. This is largely due to its style, the camera work, the colors, and the music, and especially because of its unique locations, all of which create the effect of dreamlike reality. There are no words in the script. The story is narrated entirely through the image. In Rafal Sokolowski’s capable hands, images, sounds, and music tell a far richer story than elaborate dialogue.

It is a story that allows everyone to find their own interpretation. Everyone gets something unique and personal from interacting with the film. It is a story of accidents and intertwining human narratives, where seemingly small events produce grand changes in the lives of the characters. And in their lives we quickly recognize our own. This is a story defying fate and absolutes even in the most conclusive moments. Here, seemingly irreversible and tragic situations turn like a card and reveal optimism and beauty on the other side.

This spiritually upholding message is emphasized through the potent symbols created by the director’s rich imagination. There is an empty road full of turns and ups and downs, there is a serene crossroads, a blind boy with a white dog. It is all emotionally charged and multi layered in its meaning. The images and scenes linger on, the feelings and thoughts inspired by them continue to unveil long after the credits have ended.

LIGHTCHASERS is honest, original, and thought provoking. It has all the characteristics of a film that can bring home many festival awards. I wish the film and its creators the best of luck while I anticipate with excitement Rafal’s next project. He is a young, but already mature artist.

Toronto, Gazeta, March 5th, 2007


Three independant directors passionately defy the odds
By Jonah Bettio

Three independant directors passionately defy the odds
By Jonah Bettio
Independent film isn’t a genre or a style it’s a reality: one that requires a dedicated and unique approach to filmmaking. Indie directors are passionate about their work and are willing to sacrifice put in extra work and explore new ways of creating and financing their films in order to translate their artistic vision to the big screen.


Financial Independence
“Never put your own money into a film. It’s too much that you’re involved in it already as a director ” says filmmaker Rafal Sokolowski. “It’s very difficult to write a successful grant proposal but it’s a very valuable process to the project because you really question your ideas on all sorts of levels and helps you get rid of things that aren’t necessary.”

Sokolowski spent a lot of time writing art council grant applications to raise the most money possible for his film Lightchasers. He also managed to put money away for an extra day of shooting in case of rain which turned out to be critical.

“Within a small budget and 5 day schedule we still managed to put money towards a 6th day of shooting in case of rain ” says Sokolowski. “That came in handy; one day during shooting we had a local tornado touch down and winds of over 100 kilometres an hour. During the storm we had six PAs holding a tarp over the camera and the actor is nearly being blown away. His hair was horizontal.”
In the end Sokolowski felt like more footage was needed but they had already used up their rain day. He decided to shoot and go over budget because he felt this was less of a risk than proceeding with a film that to him was incomplete. It turned out to be the right choice; the footage he got that day was some of the best of the shoot and Sokolowski ended up using it to convince more people to invest in Lightchasers and eliminate his budget overruns.

Living the Dream
Sokolowski is an actor and teacher by trade. He decided to embark on making a short film after a powerful event in his life. He had a dream that he was in a car crash and wrote down the details of it. A year later he was involved in a real-life road accident. When Sokolowski compared his notes about the people in his dream to those involved in the crash he found many similarities: “The parallels between the two worlds were too meaningful to be dismissed as coincidence.”

After working on a draft for a story Sokolowski decided the best way to express his experience was through a fictional film which was the beginning of Lightchasers. The film was shot entirely outdoors in a rural area and as such it was totally weather-dependent.

“If you really believe in a project than it almost feels like it has its own need to be completed ” says Sokolowski. “It really validates what you do and it gives you a really great feeling. It helps you feel like you belong to a universal bank of thoughts and visions. When I get a good idea I get ecstatic I feel that I’m doing the right thing and that it’s important and it’s going to matter.”
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