Anca Damian – Crulic The Path to Beyond

Publish Date: 14 may 2012
Author: Marta Jazowska

Documenting the heart-rending physical and mental demise of the victim of an unjust trial, based on real event that took place in 2007/2008 in Poland, the award winning movie is a feature-length documentary blending several animation techniques Directed by Romanian filmmaker Anca Damian Crulic – Drumul Spre Dincolo/ The Path to Beyond is, as Polish co-producer Arkadiusz Wojnarowski puts it “The story of an individual’s solitude in the face of the system”. The film is based on the case of Claudio Crulic whose desperate cry for attention after a wrongful accusation passed into oblivion and lead him to his deathbed. Driven by a fascination for the man’s four month long hunger strike in a Polish prison, Anca Damian undertook research in Poland and Romania to shed light on his story. The diary left behind by Claudio Crulic was a further source for biographical facts for the filmmaker.

The events in which the protagonist was involved took place in Kraków in 2007/2008. The Romanian Claudio Crulic, 33 years of age, was arrested for allegedly having stolen the wallet of a Polish judge. Psychologically tortured by prison officials, having ran out of legal options to prove his innocence, he went on hunger strike. Variety’s Jay Weissberg adds that, “although it was later proven he was in Italy at the time of the theft, authorities dismissed his protestations of innocence, believing previous arrests for theft established his present guilt. Letters to the Romanian consul in Poland were either ignored or replied to in a condescending manner, and even a note to his half-sister asking for help was dismissed”.

In The Path to Beyond, through someone else’s voice, the protagonist narrates his heartbreaking story from beyond the grave. Displaying, as says Filmmaker’s Howard Feinstein notices, “a distinctly Eastern European dry humor manifest in the drawings and in the rapid, highly detailed voiceovers”, the film combines techniques of animation, fiction and documentary in a form that, as he continues “is a brilliant choice to tell a tragic true story”. Alongside the beautiful hand drawings, collages, stop-motions, cut-out animation techniques and animated photography, the film uses real objects, from Crulic’s pictures to thousands of pictures taken by Anca Damian during the investigation of the real spaces of the story. “Animation was only binding matter” she explains in an interview for Cineeurope. The film features a touching film score by Polish composer Peter Dziubek.

Using contour dematerilization towards the end of the movie, with outlines becoming increasingly blurry, the film portrays Crulic’s deteriorating state. Seeking to “wake up the audience, to force them to see the world as it really is” as says the filmmaker in the same interview, scenes of his death are interwoven with news footage and the legal disclaimer.

Romanian filmmaker, producer and screenwriter Anca Damian has worked on several award winning documentaries. Director of photography on two feature films, Forgotten By God and The Way of Dogs, in 2008 she made her first feature film Crossing Dates. She is currently working on a next feature film, a Romanian Swedish coproduction A Very Unsettled Summer. […]