Director's Bio: Magdalena was born in 1983 in Zabrze, Poland. In 2002, she moved to the US to study film production and literature at the University of Southern California. Magdalena's first feature film, produced and cowritten with director Asiel Norton, Redland, a wilderness drama, won awards at international festivals, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, and was picked as one of the Top Fourteen Films of the Year by Hammer to Nail. After making Redland, Magdalena attended Columbia University’s graduate program in creative writing and received an MFA. In 2013, she completed her first novel, The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel, published by Henry Holt in 2014 to widespread critical acclaim. An absurdist picaresque set in a fictitious Slavic nation at the outbreak of World War II, it was called by The New York Times “unexpectedly moving” and by The Los Angeles Times “wickedly good.” The novel is currently being translated into Romanian, Turkish and Czech. In 2013, she produced a second feature film directed by Asiel Norton, Orion, a post-apocalyptic fable, shot in the ruins of Detroit, starring David Arquette, Lily Cole and Goran Kostic. In 2014, she shifted from producing to directing and teamed up with Zachary Cotler to begin work on Maya Dardel and When I'm a Moth. Magdalena has been honored by the national foundation Teraz Polska as an outstanding cultural figure of the Polish community abroad.
Director's Bio: Zachary was born in New Jersey in 1981 and grew up in Mill Valley, California. He received a BA in English from Cornell University in 2003 and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2008. He is the author of a novel, Ghost at the Loom (2014), a critical monograph, Elegies for Humanism (2015), and three books of poetry, Supplice (2014), Sonnets to the Humans (2013), and House with a Dark Sky Roof (2011). His poetry awards include the Colorado Prize, the Sawtooth Prize, the Amy Clampitt Residency, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the largest national prize for poets 30 and under in the United States. He's a founding editor of The Winter Anthology. Since 2014, he has focused on filmmaking. Maya Dardel is his directing debut. His second feature film with Magdalena Zyzak, When I'm a Moth, is currently in postproduction.
Directors' Statement: MAYA DARDEL explores a category of female power/intelligence undervalued in America. Our protagonist, Maya, is unsentimental, acerbic, unapologetically threatening to the young men she encounters. She is not “soulful” or “motherly.” Her kind of intelligence, whether one likes it or not, is probably more valuable than ever, considering our present political chaos. It’s also a film about the tragicomedy of being a writer in the end times of print culture, when creative writing graduate schools have replaced cafes and bars and everybody writes books and nobody reads them. The men who compete to inherit Maya’s estate are nods to four kinds of young writers one might encounter in writing programs in the United States today. At a more personal level, it’s about poetic reception of phenomena, about feelings that can't be easily expressed, and so, of course, it’s very difficult to explain the motivations that pertain to that layer of the film… maybe easier to try to speak to that in verse than prose.