Pol­ish film di­rec­tor Andrzej Wajda dies

Malta Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Os­car-win­ning Pol­ish film di­rec­tor Andrzej Wajda has died aged 90, the Pol­ish Film­mak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has con­firmed.

He made more than 40 fea­ture films in a ca­reer span­ning 60 years.

Many of his films - in­clud­ing Kanal, Man of Mar­ble, Man of Iron and Katyn - were in­spired by Poland’s tur­bu­lent wartime and com­mu­nist his­tory.

In 2000, Wajda was awarded an hon­orary Os­car for his con­tri­bu­tion to world cin­ema. Wajda had been re­cently taken to hos­pi­tal.

Un­con­firmed re­ports say he died of lung fail­ure.

Poland’s for­mer prime min­is­ter and the cur­rent head of the European Coun­cil, Don­ald Tusk, tweeted: “We all stem from Wajda. We looked at Poland and at our­selves through him. And we un­der­stood bet­ter. Now it will be more dif­fi­cult.”

Film di­rec­tor and head of the Pol­ish Film­mak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Jacek Brom­ski told Pol­ish broad­caster TVN24: “He was one of the great­est Pol­ish artists, one of the best-known in the world. Poland was his pas­sion.

“For us, for the com­mu­nity he was a pillar of strength, ev­ery­body gath­ered around him. He was al­ways present in the life of the film-mak­ing com­mu­nity, he was a men­tor, a paragon.”

Wajda’s last film Powidoki (Af­ter­im­age) tells the life story of the avant-garde pain­ter Wla­dys­law Strzeminski, who suf­fered un­der the post-war Stal­in­ist gov­ern­ment in Poland.

The di­rec­tor said he wanted to “warn against state in­ter­ven­tion in art”. The film was re­cently cho­sen as Poland’s of­fi­cial en­try for the best for­eign lan­guage film at the 2017 Os­cars.

Four of Wajda’s ear­lier works had been nom­i­nated for that cat­e­gory. Man of Iron won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in 1981. Wajda once said that “the good Lord gave the di­rec­tor two eyes - one to look into the cam­era, the other to be alert to ev­ery­thing that is go­ing on around him.”

Other trib­utes in­cluded one from film critic To­masz Raczek, who wrote on Twitter: “Pol­ish cin­ema will be in mourn­ing for a long time.” MAc­tor Daniel Ol­brych­ski, who starred in 13 of Wajda’s movies, in­clud­ing The Promised Land’ and The Maids of Wilko, said he had never met another di­rec­tor who worked with ac­tors so well. “We could feel the love of our au­di­ence through him. But when he frowned just a lit­tle, I knew I had to try and do it bet­ter,” Ol­brych­ski told TVN24.

Wajda was born in 1926 in the north-east­ern Pol­ish town of Suwalki.

His fa­ther was among the vic­tims of the Katyn mas­sacre of Pol­ish army of­fi­cers by the Soviet Union in 1940. Wajda tried to fol­low in his fa­ther’s foot­steps, but was re­jected by a mil­i­tary acad­emy, and joined the Pol­ish re­sis­tance in World War Two.

Dur­ing the war, Wajda joined the Pol­ish re­sis­tance. He later stud­ied to be a pain­ter, be­fore en­ter­ing the Lodz Film School.

In 1955, he made his fea­ture film de­but with Gen­er­a­tion, set dur­ing the Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion of War­saw in World War Two. It was fol­lowed by Kanal, and Ashes and Di­a­monds, which form a tril­ogy about life in wartime Poland.

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