Kaja W. Polmar remebered


Kaja Wright Polmar was the doughter of Morten and Anne, and a sister of Sara. She marryed Bård and thay lived together happyly ever after - but only for one day. She died at the age of 28.

Kaja was an animation director and my closest alie in Norwegien Animation miljø. Sometimes she worked on my films, sometimes I worked on hers. First time I met Kaja when she was a student of Animation college in Volda, and I was teaching there. She worked togethter with Mats Grorud and thay made an oppgave-film called En liten forteller, where one very shy 3 yer-old girl was telling incredeble things. Girl's story went like this: She has a dog, and a kjæreste who is afrade of dogs. Girl has a dilemma, she has to choose one or another. She choose kjæreste, and lost the dog. Now she have a dilemma again - should she be sad or happy? And she is sad and happy, a little-bit of both. It was realy beautiful film which stood out immideatly. Kaja has a very destinctive stile of storytelling - slightly absurd, childe-like, but very clear. She would sent her character in to a very dramatic experience and the end would be allways a bit sad, but the character would take it with a light heart.


Kaja's eksamensfilm was called Moren som ikke gråt, it was a collaboration with her class-mate Siri Natvik. If you look at all Kaja's films (she made 6 all together) you can allways see the connection to a previose work. It is allways an elaboration on one or another detail, or theme, or a technical descovery she made. Kaja loved to collaborate with other authors. In her mind, the collective desition was as good as individuall one, or even better. Objectively, that would make no diference in her case becose she would allways manege to perswade her partner. In all her collaboration works you can see clearly: This is Kaja's hand. Moren som ikke gråt had the same storytelling technick as in En liten forteller: Little girl narrates, telling us a very dramatic event of her Father's death and Mother's greef. The narrator does not fully understand what is happening, but we do. It was melancholic and sweet film, like all Kaja's storys. Light, but sad at the same time.


At the end of scool Kaja and Siri came to work on my film Aria as praktikanter. Then I got to know that Kaja was an Anarkist, Blitz-activist and wanted to change the worlde. One monday she came late for work.
-“Parting hard in the weekend?” - I asked
-“No, I was in jail"
-“I was on a demonstration against prisons and we set a cymbolic fire to a State prison. And then those Police came with dogs and batongs and arrested us, though I told them that fire was symbolic!

"You know" - she said - "I like old police-guys becose thay are often nice, but those Police-Academy students are real assholes, put a handcuffs too tight, and twist your arms and all that. Thay kept me on a concrete flore in the glatt-celle in my underpants all night, and there was an amaising Police-woman, she had a mustash!! I liked her.”

Kaja then was 20. She was wearing a big ring in the nose and dread-locks. Her eyes where round, blue and open wide. She was very much in love with Bård , who was a Punk-Rocker. He also had a dread-locks and wide open blue eyes. Together thay looked like brother and sister, but their luck was that they where not.

Next year Kaja was diagnosed with cancer, operated immideatly, and put on chemo-therapy. Her struggle with illness lasted 6 years. Dispite of illness, those where her most productive years, during which she created her main body of work. One can only immagine what she could have done if she would be well.

At the time David, Mikkel, Erik and I just started Pravda company. We had an animation department strugling for survival. So, one day Kaja came to Pravda and, standing by the koffee-mashine, said presisely those very words:

-“I got canser and this is very boring. So, I think, you, guys, should employ me, and I will put your animation studio in order”.

And so she did. Kaja had a talant to put things in order and make it function. That was her idea of Anarkism - in the absence of sentral power, people will get things organised by their naturall in-build discipline. Kaja started by coordinating the studio, animating and making props for my film Through My Thick Glasses.

Kaja loved to animate. Her biggest talent, though, was a director's talent when you tell your story with other people's voices, so to speak. But Kaja loved to animate herself. Later she said that she did her best and her worst animation in Through My Thick Glasses. Best was a scene when young Tante Ella jumping the rope as a little bløtt-kake jenta. Kaja put so much of herself in that jumping girl, that it was practicaly a self-portret. Worst was not even a scene, but a hand movement in a beach-scene. I didn't edited it away but kept in the film, and later used it many times as a last argument in our endless politicall discussions: -“If you realy think that your Anarkists are better then my Bolsheviks – how could you animate that lame hand?!”
It allways worked.

Asylsøkere was her next film, and it took three long years to compleet becose she was going in and out of chemo-therapy. She wanted to make a film about tuff kids from the immigrant-miljø, and she wanted to use a real kids for the voices. So, one day Pradva's backyard was flooded with very small and very enthusiastic children of all the colors of rainbow. They went through Pravda like Amazonian ants, and Kaja was the only one who could conduct them. Her Majesty Queen of Ants.


The story of Asylsøkere goes like this: Emigrant children in the backyard are playing asylmottak. Everyone who comes in the backyard is taken as asylsøker, and have to tell the story about the dangers he or she is running from. The storys are varied from Polar Bear invasion to a Mermaids and Ghosts. However wilde the storys are, the seeker is allways getting asylum in the backyard. Suddenly, two police officers entering the backyard. To pass through the crowd of kids they have to play along, asking for asylum. Thay get asylum allright, but the real aim of their visit is to deliver a søknad avslag to one of emigrant family. One of the kids will leave his friends forever.

It was a beautyfuly written story, and film itself had this playfull lightness of children's game. The sadness, the melancholy was not in the film, but outside of it, in our grown-up perseption of the events. This elegant storytellyng was Kaja's elaboration on something she descovered on her previose films. Helped with photography of Janne Hansen, the film was realy nice piece of work. There is a grate atmosphere in the film, and you realy feel that the backyard is one safe place in a storming world. Through the events of the story we also saw that safety is illusionary. We saw it - but the kids in the backyard didn´t see it that way.

Asylsøkere was a political film, but not entierly. It was a film about childehood, a poetic metaphora. The film was a sucsess. It went arownd festivals, was awarded severall times. Kaja had a chance to taste the recognition of the audience, trevell to different countrys - all between the chemo-therapy sessions.

At the same time, Kaja and I had an undoable project: an animation feature about Russian Revolution. We invented a term «Mok animacumentory» which is a kind of animation reconstruction of events. We manege to preswade Bjørn Godøy - a great scriptwriter and documentalist - to write the script based on our reasearch of Russian Revolution. Soon it all boiled down to one qwestion: Who, actualy, made the Revolution? We went to Russia and interview many strange-looking people, each one of them telling his own amaizing version of Revolution. We also interview many Norwegien Revolution enthusiasts and heard more amaising versions.


Trying to compose a truthfull picture of Revolution we promised to eachother not push forward our personal favorits. But secretly, we bougth secretly have cept our fingers crossed in the pocket: Kaja allways tried to push forward the Anarkists, and I tried to pushe Bolsheviks of corse. Bjørn wrote 9 (!) different scripts, each one truly great piece of filmwriting, but each one objected by one of us for politycal reasons. Finaly, irritated with bougth of us, Bjørn defined his own favorits - the Mensheviks! Then we got compleetly blocked and deside that we better just stay friends and leave Revolution alone.

We didn't descover who made the Revolution, but there was a side effect of our research: Kaja changed her apearence. Studying about Revolution she became facinated with Alexandra Kolontai, a Russian woman-revolutioner who has a strong connection to Norway. Kolontai was a Wilde Cat of Revolution, though she was an uper-class lady and kept her small burguall habits intackt. As a Revolutionary experiment, Kaja changed her own apearence to more lady-like. Dreadlocks and ring in the noce dessapeared, she begin to were dresses and pearls. I have storyboarded “Revolution”, making about 500 drowings, and the main character there was Kaja-looking Alexandra Kolontai.

Those where good times: the illness was seemingly defeeted, Asylsøkere where running towards sucsessfull end, Kaja was looking helthy and prity with her new Kolontai-stile. She mooved together with her beloved Bård, and was, basicaly, very happy. Some-were about that time Kaja made two films: one was a pixelated musick video for Bård's band, and another was a little film called UT! which was a collaboration with Siri Natvik and Inga Sætre, good old friends from Volda-college. Music-video has many good ideas, and UT! was a remarcable little film. It was a POV of a baby getting born. All done on the Glass-table, it was beautifull, inventyive and free in it's expression.


Kaja´s next film was an internet project called Anarkist er Død, collaboration with Jonas Bals. It was about one old man we have met during our research on Revolution. We invite him for a talk, but he was not very talkative. He was just siting, smoking his rollings. Kaja liked the old man, and when he died, she wanted to make a film about him. Old man was not particulary close to her, but she simply finde it unfair that he died. She wanted him to stick arownd, so to speak. So, she made his animated portret, just like we saw him: siting, smoking his rullings.

Kaja wanted to make a film about Cancer, about how it actualy works. It was a very fantasy-full project, aiming to fight the fear of Cancer. She wanted to put it in to immeges, like those which she had while laying under chemothterapy, or under narcoses. She wanted to fight Cancer on her home-grownd, where she had the uper hand. That project never came to be realised, but later she made a little film where she tested the universe of her immaginable inner-body. It was about how the Drugs works on the brain. I was astonished seing the scetches - the images where so original, powerfull and funny at the same time! Kaja finaly found her own world of expression, it was compleet. That little film was her last animation work.

Kaja's last artwork was an installation on Valkyrien-station, and that was a collaboration with another close friend, Marianne. Many, many friends worked for Kaja on this installation. Valkyrien is an abandoned station between Nationaltheatret and Majorstua, you would never guess it´s there. So, the installation worked like this: Train runs in the dark, and sudenly you see a glimps of tropic: palms, green grass, blwe sky. There is a comfy chear there, line of colored lights… Cosy, sweet place, a childysh image of Paradise. At that time Kaja was allready tolld that her days are counted. She was taken off the medication, only pain-killers left.


Kaja passed away before her time, but she manege to make so many, many things. Did I mention them all?
We did a pilot for a progect called Karamel-gull katt, animating flat puppets made of led. We had some children-related TV projects on the drawing board, and she even made me teach some children. She was working on a story about Russian Jipsy-Queen. She was working on somthing about Asylsøker who tells a-a-a-maising storys, which might even be true! Kaja was building a little studio together with Mats Grorud. She had plans to work with her Dad, producor Morten Polmar.

Kaja was very much loved and respected in the filmbranch. Her work was recognised. Everyone was ready to help, but everyone knew: There is a good chance that we are going to loose her. Giving her talent, the intensity of her artistic development, her carisma and ability to matherialise ideas, and not the last - her morall standing - Kaja would have become a sentral figure in Norwegien cultural landscape. If she would live.

Kaja allways reminded me of a bird, a Falcon - becose of those big round eyes she had, wide-open and clear. Partnership with Kaja was - like having a brave Falcon siting on your sholder. Now my Falcon flyed away. What shall I do?

Pjotr Sapegin
14 June 2007


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