The 2021 Seattle International Film Festival is all virtual. This year, only one Polish feature movie is in the program; it is Sweat directed by Magnus von Horn and starring Magdalena Koleśnik. This 2020 movie was featured at the Cannes Film Festival, among others.
The film recounts three days in the life of a fitness guru and social media celebrity Sylwia Zając. Sweat starts out light, pink, and fluffy and then turns into a high-energy character driven story of blond Sylwia, a Polish workout motivator and social influencer. She creates her workouts in the middle of shopping centers and they draw large crowds. Her dream is to have a positive effect and inspire people, and she has developed a social media following and blogs daily calling her fans “Love” and sending them positive vibes. Her goal is to break into television. She is utterly sincere and without guile, as she is utterly vain and self-obsessed, a girl who seems to have everything—even her own stalker! However, at home, besides her cute dog Jackson, Sylwia is alarmingly lonely. Furthermore, her loneliness has depth and darkness, and her powerful empathy knows no limits. Swedish director Magnus Van Horn’s view of Sylwia is nonjudgmental, admiring, and a bit mystified. Actor Magdelena Koleśnik is a real knockout as a modern plugged-in woman, who “knows” thousands of people yet has no close friends; she’s a Roxette-singing Barbie who’s “got the look” and who really wants to speak the truth. Don’t underestimate Sylwia!
Magnus von Horn was born in 1983 in Gothenburg, Sweden. He graduated from the Polish National Film School in Łódź in 2013, where he now teaches directing. His debut feature The Here After (2015) premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2015 and won two Swedish Guldbagge Awards for Best Film and Best Director. He took part in the Torino Film Lab for his second feature, Sweat (2020).