Polish film director and writer, Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, boldly broke into the world of film with her first feature, “After.Life,” shortly after finishing her undergraduate degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. Through perseverance and passion for her art, Wojtowicz-Vosloo had the opportunity to feature her short film “Pâté” at the Sundance Festival and to make this feature film, starring acclaimed actors Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long.
The psychological horror film tells the dark fate of Anna (Ricci) who wakes up after a car accident to find local funeral director, Eliot Deacon (Neeson) preparing her body for her funeral. Still feeling very much alive, she tries to escape with the help of her boyfriend, Paul (Long) before she crosses to the other side.
Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s love of film began in her home town, Warsaw, Poland.
“I loved all arts- photography, painting, choreography-and film was the most natural art form that combined all of the other ones,” she said.
Wojtowicz-Vosloo gained a strong grasp on European cinema while growing up and she wanted to experience American cinema in the United States, so she began her study of film at NYU.
At NYU, Wojtowicz-Vosloo was assigned a project to make a short film; she chose to portray a dark story of an apocalyptic world and what happens to people’s psyche when they are faced with extreme challenges. When faced with doubt from her professors for attempting such a difficult topic for a first film, she decided to carry on.
“[The film was] very visual,” Wojtowicz-Vosloo said. “The big challenge was creating this apocalyptic world, which involved me being very resourceful with the budget of an average college student.”
Her hard work paid off, when her film was accepted to Sundance, she received the Feuille d’Or at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and she won NYU’s prestigious Wasserman Award.
As part of the Wasserman Award, she was flown to LA to meet producers and agents, where Wojtowicz-Vosloo found her agent when she was still only in her second year of college.
She explained that the process of getting the actors she desired interested would take a lot of hard work. Her agent sent the script of “After.Life” to the actors’ agents, and when they approved it, the actors themselves read the script and decided whether they wanted to play the role or not. Luckily, Neeson, Ricci and Long all accepted their respective roles and began collaborating with Wojtowicz-Vosloo. With only 25 days to shoot the film, she enjoyed learning the actors’ different methods and personalities.
“[I am often inspired by] darker things that are in our psyche,” Wojtowicz-Vosloo said. “It comes from the world I live in, but I love to take something and give it its own twist and spin. Every religion, every philosophy says what happens when we die, but we won’t know until it happens.”
Dive into the dark world of Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, with her first feature film, “After.Life,” which opened Friday.
Directed by: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Starring: Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long
MPAA Rating: R for nudity, disturbing images, language and brief sexuality