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Contemplating Krzysztof Zanussi

Dailies Editor One cannot contemplate the accomplishments of Polish cinema without acknowledging the singular contribution of Krzysztof Zanussi, who is the subject of a retrospective tribute at the ERA New Horizons International Film Festival, taking place in Wroclaw, Poland this week. Not only will the master director’s best-known films be screened, but the Festival programmers have unearthed early short films and television works that have not been seen in decades. Zanussi was born in Warsaw in 1939, less than two months before the invasion of the Germans. He studied physics at Warsaw University and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University His interest in film brought him to the Lodz Film Academy, where he graduated in 1966. His school diploma film “The Death of a Provincial” won awards at film festivals in Venice, Mannheim, Valladolid and Moscow.

The 1970s and 1980s were a prolific time for Zanussi, with his features winning awards at major international film festivals. “Structure Of A Crystal” won the top prize at the Mar del Plata FF in Argentina in 1970 and his follow-up film “Family Life” was feted at the Chicago, Valladolid and Colombo film festivals. “Illumination”, the semi-autobiographical tale of a physics student who has an affair with an older married woman, won the Golden Leopard Grand Prix prize at the 1973 Locarno Film Festival. “Camouflage” (1975), the story of a group of students who spend the summer vacation studying the science of linguistics, won the Critics Award at the Rotterdam FF and the Best Director prize at the Teheran FF.

“The Constant Factor” (1980), the story of a young man whose dreams are dashed when his mother becomes ill, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His bets known film in the West is “The Year Of The Quiet Sun” (1984)”, the emotional story of an American soldier and a Polish refugee at the close of World War II, that won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

In total, he has produced and/or directed over 60 films and has been a professor of European film at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and at the Silesian University in Katowice. He has served as the director of the Polish Film Studio TOR and has received numberous industry tributes, including the David di Donatello Prize of the Accademia del Cinema Italiano, the Cavalier's Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order, and the Cavalier de L'Ordre des Sciences et Lettres. He continues to be active, with such recent success d’estimes as “Black Sun” (2007) and last year’s “A Warm Heart” (2008), which won a Best Actor award at the Rome Film Festival for its lead Bogdan Stupka.

by Sandy Mandelberger, Online Dailies Editor
online ERA dailies

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