Film director. Born on March 15, 1932 in Kraków.
In 1940 Jerzy Hoffman was deported to Siberia, he returned to Poland after the war. In 1955 he graduated in directing from Moscow's Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. In the same year he debuted as a director, completing two documentary films along with Edward Skórzewski.
Hoffman made his début in 1954, co-directing a documentary, Czy jesteś wśród nich? (Are You One of Them?) with Edward Skórzewski. This was the start of a collaboration which spanned a decade. By 1965, the two had already completed twenty-seven documentaries and three feature films. Both writers have made a significant contribution in the golden era of Polish documentary filmmaking, which coincided with the end of the 1950s and early 1960s. It was called as the 'Polish school of documentaries'. During this period the director described his own work thus:
For us, documentary film has become a school of Polish reality, and of course a workshop of life [...] documentary experience has taught us to pay attention to the realities, to pay attention to the details [...] to take care of everything which arouses the viewer's belief in the authenticity of the events shown to him.
- Film, 1975 No. 15.
The documentaries by Skórzewski and Hoffman won numerous awards including some in Oberhausen, Kraków, Venice, Moscow and Mannheim.
The team's feature film début was a satirical comedy called Gangsterzy i filantropi / Gangsters and Philantropists. After completing two more films, the two filmmakers parted ways after working together for over a decade.
Hoffman's first independent picture was made for the Ojciec TV station. His next film, Pan Wołodyjowski / Colonel Wołodyjowski, marked the beginning of a new era for the director – that of great film productions. The film was released in 1969. Janusz Zaremba wrote:
Hoffman has demonstrated a new side of his talent as a director of great adventure and historic- spectacle.
In his following films (Potop / The Deluge, Trędowata / Leper, Znachor / The Quack and others) Hoffman demonstrated his fondness for popular cinema, addressed to the widest demographic, but which often went beyond entertainment.
For years, Hoffman struggled to get funding for the film Ogiem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword, an adaptation of the third part of Henryk Sienkiewicz's Trilogy (the first published book). Filming began on October 13, 1997, based on the ninth version of the script. The film was released in 1999, gaining a widespread audience of millions in Poland and abroad. In 2003, Hoffman made the film Stara Baśń / An Ancient Tale based on a prose by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski.
I wanted the audience to appreciate the momentum, richness and clarity of vision of the film. I was particularly fascinated by the story, the director said about his work in an interview with Krzysztof Demidowicz.
- Film, 2000 No. 3.
In 2004, Hoffman started a (very modest) four-episode documentary Ukraine – the birth of the nation. Hoffman was among the first directors who decided to present such a wide-ranging historical scope. "'Ukraine' which I am working on", said Hoffman, "is a fascinating topic: the birth, development of a nation – from nativity to this day." ("Rzeczpospolita" 2006 No. 44). The director hoped that the film would be widely distributed especially in schools and universities, because for him this documentary was something of a history textbook.
In 2011, Hoffman returned to filming once again, to create a spectacular tribute to an episode in Polish history. Battle of Warsaw 1920 (Bitwa warszawska 1920) is a story about the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920, filmed in the spirit of a war melodrama. It shows a story of a lancer (Borys Szyc) and a beautiful singer (Natasza Urbańska), who abandons the stage in order to defend the country. Battle of Warsaw 1920 is the first Polish film produced with the use of 3D technology. The cinematography in this film was created by Sławomir Idziak.
In 1959, he received the Gold Cross of Merit. In 1982, he received a diploma for his contribution in promoting Polish culture abroad (in 1981) by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1983 he was awarded the Officer's Cross of Polonia Restituta. From 1987 to 1989, he was a member of the Cinematography Committee. In 1988 he was given the honorary title of 'With Merit to the Polish Culture' by the State Council.
In 1999, at the 29th International Film Festival "Youth" in Kiev, he received an honorary award for his contribution to the development of world cinema. In the same year he was nominated for the Polish Film Award for lifetime achievement. Also in 1999 he was nominated for the Niptel 99 Media Award for the film Ogiem i mieczem. In the same year, he was awarded the Grand Cross of Polonia Restituta for outstanding contribution to Polish culture – for achievements in creativity and art. On February 12, 2004, Hoffman's star was unveiled on the Walk of Fame on ul. Piotrkowska in Łódź. In 2000 he received the Super Wiktor 99 for lifetime achievement.
In 2003, at the 28th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, the director was awarded an additional jury award for persistence and determination in creating great works of history. In 2005, he received the annual award of the Minister of Culture in the film category. Also in 2005 he was awarded the "Gloria Artis" Medal for Merit to Culture. In 2006 he received a special "Złote Spinki" at that year's "Telekamery" award ceremony. Also in 2006 he got the Polish Eagle Film Award in the Life Achievement category for 2005. In 2009 at the 34th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, he received the "Platinum Lions" for lifetime achievement.
For 17 years, Jerzy Hoffmann was the artistic director of the Zodiak film studio, and since 1997 he has been co-running his own company Zodiak Jerzy Hoffman Production.
In 1999 he published a book Hoffman: Chuligana żywot własny ( Hoffman: a Hooligan's Life of its Own) edited by Stanisław Zawiślański, Joanna Piątek and Waldemar Piątek.
TV Theatre (selection of works.):
In addition, Jerzy Hoffman wrote the screenplay for the documentary film "Kryptonim Oktan" / "Codename Oktan".
He also acted in feature films: Gangsterzy i filantropi (1963), Szczur (1995) and Stara Baśń (2003, as a teacher), and documentary films: Basia (1993, produced by Luiza Jesipowicz; a film about the daughter of Barbara Brylska), 2000 - Prawda przeciw prawdzie (produced by Janusz Kieszkiewicz; documentary about the film Ogniem i mieczem).
Written by: Halina Olczak-Moraczewska, August 2004, updated in September 2009, Filmography: October, 2010. Update: Anna Micińska, February 2014
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