Andrzej Wajda – Cinematography in Poland after 1968 (133/222)

Andrzej Wajda – Cinematography in Poland after 1968 (133/222)

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Polish film director Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016), whose début films portrayed the horror of the German occupation of Poland, won awards at Cannes which established his reputation as storyteller and commentator on Polish history. He also served on the national Senate from 1989-91. [Listener: Jacek Petrycki]

TRANSCRIPT: To fully understand how I was able to suddenly start filming a screenplay like the one for ‘Man of Marble’, I need to go back a little to the events that followed ’68. As I mentioned, the film production teams were taken over by people nominated by the Party, and this lasted for several years. When the wind of change began to blow, so to speak, I started to convince those friends of mine who’d earlier headed these teams: Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Stanisław Różewicz, and others, that they should reclaim them, that we should get together because the Association of Polish Film-makers had always been an organisation that played an important role and participated in the events and various decisions that took place in the film world. Jerzy Kawalerowicz had been our chairman from the very beginning. I told them to try to get together through the Association and to try to regain their film teams that way; at that time it was clear that they weren’t fulfilling the role they’d had when they’d been formed. Those random people who now headed these teams – even the Party wasn’t satisfied with them because they were incapable of imposing any kind of order on us. For example, ‘Landscape after Battle’ was made by one of these teams. They had no control over the situation in relation to the directors on whom they couldn’t impose anything. On the other hand, they didn’t initiate anything that would have been really worthwhile like the old teams had. A new team appeared among the existing ones because my friends had decided that I could head one, and that’s how Zespół Filmowy x was formed, made up of young people. Only film directors joined this group all of whom were just starting out, which created a very difficult situation for me. On the one hand, the authorities couldn’t backtrack to give me this team while on the other, they did everything they could to make it disband automatically. This could have happened in the following way. For a film director to make their debut, they had to make a film for TV. But if television wasn’t accepting any young people’s projects, and were just sending them away, then they couldn’t make their debut. If they couldn’t make their debut, then what were they doing in my team? The natural course of events would have been for them to have joined different teams to look for a place there. My team would have disintegrated through lack of momentum. Nevertheless, this isn’t how it ended because the moment came when they were able to break through into TV and first Falk made a film, then Agnieszka Holland, and then others.