Andrzej Wajda


A film and theater director, co-creator of the Polish film school. He was born on 6 March 1926 in Suwałki. During the war he attended underground classes in Radom, and he was a member of the Home Army. He began to learn the art of painting. After the end of the war, in the period 1946-1950 he studied painting at the Academy of Arts in Krakow, and next, film direction at the Film School in Łódź. He graduated in 1953, and got his diploma in 1960.


His professional debut was as Aleksander Ford’s assistant at the film Piątka z ulicy Barskiej [The Five from Barska Street]. His first independent film was Pokolenie [Generation]. In the period 1972-1983 he held the position of the manager of film group “X”, and in the years 1978 – 1983 he was the President of the Polish Filmmakers’ Association and in the period 1987 – 2001 he was a member of Cinematography Commission. He is a member of the Film Academy which grants Felix Award.


In 1980 he joined NSZZ “Solidarność”, and in the period 1988-1989 he was a member of the Civic Committee of Lech Wałęsa. Senator in 1988-1990. In 1994 he opened in Krakow the Center of Japanese Art and Technique “Manggha”, which was funded by him and his wife Krystyna Zachwatowicz. In 2002, together with Wojciech Marczewski, he founded in Warsaw the Master School of Film Direction. Since 2001 he has sat on the board of Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Eastern Europe Collegium. Since 2004, a member of the Program Board of the Jewish Motifs Association.


His artistic work is the author’s cinema of great versatility, which draws from painting and Polish literature as well as Polish and European cultural tradition. He made numerous film adaptations of literary works; he is also the author of films on contemporary problems and of psychological dramas. He also directs theater performances and has worked for the Krakow Stary Theater and Warsaw Powszechny Theater. He directed many theater plays in Poland, in Europe, Japan and USA. Doctor Honoris Causa of the following Universities: Jagiellonian, Warsaw, Gdańsk, Bologna, Brussels, Lyon and Washington.


In 1981 he was awarded with Palme d'Or at the festival in Cannes, in 1982 – with César Award, and in 1990 – Felix Award. In 1987 he won Kyoto Prize in Japan, which he allocated in full to the establishment of the Kyoto-Krakow Foundation, and in 1996 – Japanese Praemium Imperiale. Since 1997 he belongs to the “group of the immortal” of Institut de France. In 1998 he won Golden Lions in Venice for his lifetime achievement, and in 2000, also for his lifetime achievement, he was honored with Academy Award. Katyń, the film directed by him was nominated (2008) for Academy Award. In 2006, he was awarded with Golden Bear Award for the lifetime achievement at 56th International Film Festival in Berlin.


Awarded with the Great Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2005), Bulgarian Cyril and Methodius Order (1979), Japanese Order of Rising Sun (1995), Silver Medal “Cracovia Merenti” (1995), Officer’s Cross (1982) and Commander’s Cross (2001) of Legion d'Honneur of the French Republic; German Great Cross of the Order of Merit (2001), Commander’s Cross with the Star of Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (2006), and the Order of White Eagle (2011).

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