Amidst all circumstances, a child’s journey to find color in life

Project type: Fiction Short
Project status: Development
Writer/Director: Matt Balcerek
Producer: Pinar Binay
Director of Photography: Łukasz Dziedzic
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In a war-torn country, a young girl named Danuta and her family play a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with soldiers as they struggle to survive.


In a war-torn country, the lives of Danuta, Alicja, and their family are filled with fear and uncertainty. One evening, while playing hide-and-seek, the family is interrupted by soldiers banging on their door. Antoni, Danuta’s beloved grandfather, instructs her to hide as he prepares to face the soldiers. Danuta finds solace in her crayons and drawings, capturing the beauty of a sunflower.

Tragically, the soldiers break into the house and fatally shoot Antoni. Alone and trembling, Danuta falls asleep on the bloodied floor, waiting for morning to arrive. When her mother and sister find her the next day, the family is devastated by the loss. Alicia tries to console Danuta by explaining that her grandfather is now hiding in a new body, but the innocence of the young girl’s question lingers.

Seeking refuge in an old church, the family attends a service, where Danuta’s fascination with sunflowers is met with disapproval from the priest. Alicia and the priest discuss the need to protect the children as danger looms.

Back at home, Danuta engages in a heartfelt conversation with her deceased grandfather’s spirit, as she believes he can hear her. Meanwhile, Alicia labors to build a wooden coffin, trying to shield her children from the harsh realities of their world.

Their quiet moment is interrupted when two soldiers approach their house. Alicia hides Danuta, desperately hoping they won’t discover her. Meanwhile, Helena remains inside the house, unaware of the imminent danger. With a soldier’s gaze fixed on her, Alicia holds her breath, praying for their safety. After the soldiers leave, Alicja finds Helena furious and Danuta scared for the first time. Helena manifests the need for safety. They bid farewell to their home with a prayer. As they begin their journey, Danuta notices a new drawing—a blooming sunflower.

Meet the Filmmakers

Matt Balcerek – Writer/Director
Matt Balcerek is a producer and development manager with over 6 years experience in the industry. Having worked internationally (the UK, Poland, Italy, the USA), he has focused on global productions in the scripted series, feature films but also unscripted shows, and music. Matt produced a documentary CERRO GORDO (2020) for Spectrum TV, but also worked on development of Netflix’s horror movie NIGHT TEETH (2021) at Unique Features, and Netflix’s unscripted show ONE DAY AT A TIME (2020) at Act III Productions. His passion for filmmaking and Masters degree from the University of Southern California gave him a solid foundation to develop reputable projects internationally. 

Pinar Binay – Producer
Pinar Binay, originally from a small town in Western Turkey, is a creative producer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts with triple minors in producing, business, and art history, she produced 25+ short films and worked with acclaimed independent producers in New York City, such as Oscar Boyson and Trudie Styler, and industry-leading managers of Entertainment 360 right after graduation. As a producer, she advocates for genre stories with a twist and diverse creators. Coming from an immigrant background, she aspires to find the most authentic stories in innovatively told histories. Pinar is currently a Project Involve Fellow on the producing track. 

Łukasz Dziedzic – Director of Photography
Łukasz Dziedzic is an AFI Conservatory alumni and awarded the ASC Heritage Award for ANIMALS. Łukasz is based in the US and in Europe. He served his apprenticeship working for Janusz Kamiński (two times Oscar winner) on productions WEST SIDE STORY dir. Stephen Spielberg and CALL OF THE WILD dir. Chris Sanders. He was and was nominated at the Camerimage Film Festival for IKAR (’18) and ANIMALS (’19). ROVING WOMAN dir. Michał Chmielewski premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and screened during Raindance, Tallin and Polish Film Festival. The film earned theatrical release and was executive produced by Wim Wenders.

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