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May 23, 2024

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Famous Polish Director
Andrzej Wajda Dies

Andrzej Wajda, one of Poland’s most famous directors, died at the age of 90 on October 5th.

Andrzej Wajda was a film and theatre director, laureate of the Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2000. His films: Canal and Ashes and Diamonds, which examined the WWII times, brought him international recognition. He was the co-creator of the Polish Film School, an informal group of Polish directors active in 1955-1965 who tried to come to terms with World War II in their movies.

He was born in 1926 in Suwalki in eastern Poland. In 1946 he started to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow without completing the course. In 1953 he graduated from the Leon Schiller State Theatre and Film School in Lodz.

His Man of Marble from 1976 won him international renown: a film about a young female journalist who discovers a dark past of a forgotten Stakhanovite worker. The picture was hailed as a manifesto of the cinema of moral anxiety which revealed pathologies of the communist system. Its continuation, Man of Iron from 1981, was awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes festival. The trilogy’s third part, Wałęsa. Man of Hope, was produced in 2013 and is a fictionalised biopic of Solidarity’s leader, Lech Wałęsa.

Wajda received four Oscar nominations, most recently in 2008 for Katyń, which tells a story of the Soviet murder of almost 22,000 Poles, including 10,000 Polish officers, committed in the spring of 1940. Earlier Oscar nominations included: the Young Girls of Wilko, Promised Land and Man of Iron.

Wajda adapted for the screen the majority of Poland’s literary canons, such as Pan Tadeusz, a Romantic epic poem by Adam Mickiewicz; Promised Land by Władysław Reymont and Revenge by Aleksander Fredro.

The director has received numerous awards, among them the Venice Festival’s Golden Lion, the Berlin Festival’s Golden Bear for lifetime achievement, the Cesar Award, the Felix Award, and the Japanese Kyoto Prize.

He was active until the end of his life – his movie “Afterimage” was chosen as the Polish entry for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year.

When celebrating his 90th birthday last March, he told PAP: “As long as I’m physically able to do this, I want to work. Work with a large group of people, i.e. the film crew, to answer their questions, share my energy.”