Her feature debut Hemel (2012) was right on target: a premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and a FIPRESCI award to boot. The title character also set the tone for a kind of protagonist around which Sacha Polak likes to construct her films (in 2015 Zurich and now IFFR opening film Dirty God): women who try to deal with an existential loss in an erratic and self-destructive way. The characters are rebellious, sometimes unsympathetic and always true to life.

For the lead in Dirty God, her first English-language film, Polak sought and found a young woman who herself grew up in the London working class and has experience with the trauma on which the film focuses: visible burn scars. The tone and colour of the film are largely determined by the music, the appearance and manners of big-city youth culture. Film journalist, radio-maker and programmer Tara Judah talks to Sacha Polak about her work and how her films came about.