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Established 1995 serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.


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BFI Southbank Andrzej Wajda Retrospective

Andrzej Wajda Retrospective
BFI Southbank, 2 - 31 May 2008

Andrzej Wajda has been the Grand Old Man of Polish cinema for so long that it comes as a surprise to discover that he’s still working at the age of 82. Born in Suwalki, north-east Poland in 1926, he was 13 when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded his country. His father was murdered at Katyn the following year, which had an indelible effect on Wajda’s psyche and preoccupations. After the war, he studied painting at Cracow’s Fine Arts Academy and then trained at Lodz’s famous film school, making an immediate splash in 1955 with his feature debut A Generation (1954). This was more feted in Poland than abroad, but when Kanal (1957) won the Cannes Special Jury Prize, Wajda was catapulted to an international fame that was consolidated by the complex national tragedy of Ashes and Diamonds (1958), still considered by many to be his masterpiece.
But Wajda had another half century of work in him, and this retrospective cherry-picks the best of it. There’s Man of Marble (1976) and Man of Iron (1981), the coruscating diptych of Polish political activism from the Stalinist era to the Gdansk shipyard strike, plus Rough Treatment (1978), a bitter reflection on the subservience of the individual to the Communist state. Two very different films recreate the early 20th century: the industrial melodrama Land of Promise (1974) and the lyrical, wistful The Young Ladies of Wilko (1979). As for contemporary settings, the real-life death of acting icon Zbigniew Cybulski triggered the extraordinary Everything For Sale (1968), while John Gielgud became an unlikely Wajda protagonist in the title role of The Conductor (1980).

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