Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda

Director

Undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of Polish cinema, and a giant of European film more broadly, Andrzej Wajda’s career spanned more than six decades and 40 features. Born in 1926 in Suwałki, he lost his father in the Katyń massacre during the Second World War. Intending to become a painter, Wajda trained at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in the years after the war, before enrolling at the Łódź Film School in 1949, alma mater to many of Poland’s finest filmmakers. A key figure in the nascent “Polish Film School” – alongside the likes of Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Andrzej Munk, and Tadeusz Konwicki – Wajda’s epochal early films A Generation (1956), Kanal (1957), and Ashes and Diamonds established him as a force to be reckoned with. Wajda’s many features encompassed numerous literary adaptations and genre pieces, but he is most renowned as a chronicler of Polish national history and identity: from his many films about the war and its aftermath (Kanal; Ashes and Diamonds; Landscape after Battle, 1970;A Love in Germany, 1983; Katyń, 2007), the “jazz age” of the 1950s (Innocent Sorcerers, 1960), the Stalinist stagnation (Man of Marble, 1977), and the Solidarity union and martial law (Man of Iron, 1981, for which he won the Palme d’Or). On his death, former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said: “We all stem from Wajda. We looked at Poland and at ourselves through him. And we understood better. Now it will be more difficult.”

Films