Director of many awarded documentaries, born 1940 in Paris.
Prior to enrolling at the Łódź Film School in 1967, Łoziński graduated from Warsaw Polytechnic, Department of Communication, and worked for a few years as a sound engineer at the Warsaw Documentary Studio (WFD). He completed his direction studies in 1971, but it was not until 1976 that he obtained his degree, by which time he could boast some serious documentary filmmaking achievement. His pre-graduation project was Zmiana [A Change] and Widziane z dołu [Seen from Underneath], two parts of a TV film made together with Pawel Kedzierski, and Zderzenie czołowe [A Head-On Collision] [aka "Front Collision"] was his graduation work.
In the 1970s and 1980s Łoziński was associated first with the Polish Television, then with Andrzej Wajda's Studio X and with the Warsaw Documentary Studio. He was expelled from the latter by the Minister of Culture in 1980, his two consecutive films stopped by censorship, but re-joined in August of the same year. He gave up making documentaries under the martial law, though accepted the Warsaw Institute of Psychoneurology's commission for a project on alcoholism, and, with the Warsaw Documentary Studio, registered major developments in the underground Solidarity. The mid-1980s saw him return to individual documentary filmmaking. Most of his 1990s film were made at the Kalejdoskop Film Studio.
Łozinski lectures at Andrzej Wajda's Master School of Film Directing and is a member of the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy.
He is one of the internationally most acclaimed Polish film documentary filmmakers, boasting prizes from numerous film festivals, including Oberhausen, Kraków, San Francisco and Leipzig, and holding prestigious lifetime awards, most notably 1995 "Polityka's Passport" in the film category, 1995 Culture Foundation's Award, 2000 Minister of Culture and National Heritage award, the 2004 "Jancio Wodnik" Award at the 11th "Prowincjonalia" National Film Art Festival in Września, and the Andrzej Wajda Freedom Award received at the International Film Festival in Berlin in 2004. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary 89 mm od Europy [89 mm From Europe] in 1994.
1971 witnessed a generational change in Polish documentary, with debuts by young filmmakers such as Tomasz Zygadło, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Wojciech Wiszniewski and Paweł Kędzierski. As a group, they moved away from neo-realistic, objective registration of reality advocated mainly by Kazimierz Karabasz, and, according to Mirosław Przylipiak, veered towards describing social reality and unravelling the non-presented world ("Kwartalnik Filmowy" 23/1998). Lozinski was one of the leading directors of the generation whose films were marked by "a skepticism of official, façade life which was at odds with individual experience" and revealed the inconsistency "between the official and personal living", wrote Małgorzata Hendrykowska in "Kronika kinematografii polskiej 1895-1997" [A Chronicle of Polish Filmmaking: 1895-1997], Warszawa 1999. This is a very apt comment on Łoziński's documentaries made in communist Poland, for Próba mikrofonu [The Microphone Test], Zderzenie czołowe [A Head-On Collision], Happy End, Król [The King] and Egzamin dojrzalosci [Matriculation], now considered documentary classics of the period, were indeed akin to political and social essays. One could venture a statement that Lozinski was particularly vocal in manifesting his views - and paid a high price for that. Krzysztof Kornacki, author of a comprehensive review of Lozinski's films ("Polityka, psychologia i czlowiek - twórczość Marcela Łozinskiego" [Politics, Psychology and the Man. The Films of Marcel Łozinski], "Kwartalnik Filmowy" 23/1998), points out that only four of Lozinski's twelve films made before 1980 (Wizyta [A Visit], Zderzenie czolowe [A Head-On Collision], Film nr 1650 [Film No. 1650] and Dotkniecie [The Touch] were distributed in a more or less regular way. The rest were stopped from release or interfered with by the authorities, often without Łoziński's knowledge, as in the case of Kolo fortuny [Wheel of Fortune]. This, as well as Lozinski's choice to grow silent under the martial law, accounted for a very poor awareness of his achievement when 1989 brought the change of the system, and it took two resounding documentaries made in the early 1990s (89 mm od Europy [89 mm From Europe] and Wszystko może się przytrafić [Anything Can Happen] to raise it.
The afore-mentioned Krzysztof Kornacki considers 1989 the key milestone in Łoziński's work and observes that the evolution of his interests was typical of his generation of documentary filmmakers, moving from the
"involved commentary" of the critical documentaries of the 1970s to "an attempt to speak straightforwardly in the brief period from August 1980 to December 1981, followed by an 'absence' in the decade of the martial law and by a sudden revival with very important and very good 'accountability films' after the breakthrough of 1989, to small-scale, intimate documentaries about the human being".
As a matter of fact, there was no period of "straightforward speaking", even though Łoziński played a major role during Solidarity's heyday, his banned films such as Jak żyć [Recipe for Life] [aka "How to live?"], Egzamin dojrzałości [Matriculation] and Proba mikrofonu [The Microphone Test] finally released and winning prizes at Krakow and Lagow festivals. Proba mikrofonu, shot at the Warsaw Pollena-Uroda cosmetics factory, seems particularly important. A company radio broadcaster asks workers if they feel that they own the plant and then confronts what they have said with what the management says. Made in 1980, this documentary seems to be ahead of its time. Showing the relationship between the ruled and the rulers, it reveals the truth about who really runs the country. Incidentally, this theme was taken up in many other films made in the wake of events of August 1980 using the formula of Krzysztof Kieślowski's famous Gadające glowy [Talking Heads].
In general, Kornacki has a point, also when he lists the topics raised by Lozinski before 1989: the individual versus unifying social and political mechanisms (Zderzenie czolowe, Happy End), collective mentality (Jak żyć, Egzamin dojrzałości, Król, Moje miejsce [My Place], Dotknięcie) and the role of the media in the mechanisms of political indoctrination (Próba mikrofonu, Ćwiczenia warsztatowe [Workshop Practice] and, partly, Wizyta). According to Kornacki, these films are "not so much about man as about the individual", yet he discerns "deep footprints of humanity" in Wizyta, an interpretation confirmed by Łoziński himself in Żeby nie bolało [So That It Doesn't Hurt]. Made twenty-four years later, this documentary has the same protagonist, Urszula Flis, a woman living in the country partly by choice and partly by necessity, her interests and intellectual standards setting her apart from the locals. These "footprints" were, however, missed by Tadeusz Sobolewski, the noted film critic, who made a rather unfortunate comparison between Wizyta and Proba Mikrofonu ("Film" 15/1981). Reporting on the Kraków Festival in 1981, Bozena Janicka wrote aptly that Proba mikrofonu was about the attitude of "the authorities to public aspirations" ("Film" 26/1981). Yet Sobolewski was right about most of Łoziński's films: they tell us nothing about "the filmmaker's soul, but a lot about the collective soul". One could add that they sometimes tell us a lot about social schizophrenia. Take Egzamin dojrzalosci, in which Lozinski confronts the students' answers in the exam room - all in line with the propaganda - with the spiteful comments they make with regard to the same propaganda in the corridor.
Lozinski's period of "account-settling", though brief, resulted in films which, however similar to those made by others, will without doubt remain an important insight into the Polish history and collective trauma of the nation faced with the challenge of evaluating its past. These films include Świadkowie [Witnesses], made in 1988 and showing the views of the inhabitants of Kielce, participants and witnesses of the so-called Kielce pogrom of 1946; Las katyński [Katyń Forest], a 1989 documentary treating of the hushed crime, the trauma of relatives unable to bury their dead, and the people who had to live in the shadow of the crime scene, a place symbolic of the communist empire; and 45-89, an early 1990s vision of history of communist Poland as seen by the non-partite, defiant left which tried to change the system.
In a paper "Film dokumentalny wobec transformacji ustrojowej w Polsce" [The Documentary Film and Transformation of Poland's System] delivered at Jagiellonian University (published in "Dokument po przelomie" [The Post-Breakthrough Documentary], ed. J. Glowa, Krakow 1999), Jerzy Uszynski pointed out the shift of the centre of gravity which occurred in the Polish documentaries in the 1990s. He used Łoziński as a an example. The shift was from socially-involved to philosophical (I would rather go for "existential") themes, from focus on the individual to focus on man. Uszynski observes that some of Lozinski's films of that time could have been made anytime and anywhere. The flagship films of this trend were Wszystko może sie przytrafić [Anything Can Happen] and the aforementioned Żeby nie bolało [So It Doesn't Hurt]. Uszynski adds the Oscar-nominated 89 mm od Europy [89 mm from Europe], a documentary showing the enduring gap between the West and the East.
This inclusion is debatable, for 89 mm od Europy reminds one more of the metaphorical socio-political films from the communist times, the human dimension of the bonding of the six-year-old Tomaszek and the Belarusian worker replacing chassis at a border train station providing the only link to the other two films. Well, not really the only one, for the same Tomaszek appears in Lozinski's deepest and, possibly, best film Wszystko moze sie przytrafic, a story of life, death, hope-filled curiosity of a young boy and the bitter experience of old age.
To Łoziński, like to many filmmakers of his generation, it is not only the "what" that matters, but also the "how". It is a hallmark of their films that they are conceived, staged and artistically provocative. While it was Wojciech Wiszniewski who went furthest in this regard, Łoziński also applied broadly understood creation, for instance in Zderzenie czolowe and Moje miejsce, and provocation, like in Happy End made with Paweł Kędzierski, or in his other resounding films, such as Proba mikrofonu and Jak żyć. Łoziński himself spoke a number of times about his search for a catalyst to help with or accelerate the extraction of truth about people and situations. He would use this catalyst not only when tracking down the negative features of the system or putting together a rather unfavourable portrait of the Polish society, but also at a later stage. Take Las Katyński, in which the daughter of a Polish officer murdered in Katyń encourages the confessions of Russians living in the shadow of that crime, or Wszystko może się przytrafić, where the catalyst is Łoziński's s six-year-old son.
When interviewed by Tadeusz Sobolewski while shooting Jak żyć, the acclaimed film made in the Zespol X Studio (headed by Andrzej Wajda) as a full-length feature (and quoted as such in film encyclopedias), yet - significantly - considered a documentary by Lozinski, he confessed:
"I am interested neither in pure documentaries nor in features. When making a 'pure documentary', you just watch. In features you use pre-conceived outlines. I try to benefit from both genres. … Someone said that to make a film is to find the moment of balance between your own idea and what the reality suggests. I try to influence the reality and then treat openly the situation which has been created." ("Film" 36/1976)
This statement was reinforced with his comment on the making of Jak żyć [Recipe for Life]:
"The best thing ... is that finally you do not really know what has been staged and what is life."
These comments are true of almost all of Łoziński's films, though his interference ranged from limited, as in Jak żyć, to substantial. At times it was so substantial that it was found too far-reaching. Łoziński, though, would say he did not want to bend life to suit his directing intentions, to simplify or to manipulate. Yet because of his interference certain of his films have lost the characteristics of the documentary. Referring to the controversy around Lozinski's method of "opening the reality", Krzysztof Kornacki calls Jak żyć "a documentary with a large number of staging tricks". This does not resolve the controversy, though. The protagonists of Jak żyć, staying at a Union of Young Polish Socialists camp, did not know that Lozinski controlled several of the key campers, that they were acting and that, consequently, the situations they provoked would be more in place in a feature than in a documentary. Naturally, this does not change the metaphorical message of the film, with its vision of a system suggestive of a penal camp in which everybody is constantly watched and assessed by the invisible management and by one another. Nor does it diminish the artistic merit of Łoziński's films. He uses his method in a masterly fashion, applying it as a tool to help extract what he considers of primary importance. After all, what really matters is to get down to the truth about the people or the mechanics of political and social systems, and, ultimately, of history.
- 1971 Zmiana [A Change]. Written and produced with Paweł Kędzierski. Part one of a film made for Polish TV - part two is entitled Widziane z dołu [Seen From Underneath]) - Łozinski made it when he was a student; it was counted as his pre-graduation project. About a conflict between the director and employees of a state farm.
- 1971 Widziane z dołu [Seen From Underneath]. Written and produced with Paweł Kędzierski. Part two of the film about a conflict between the director and employees of a state farm (part one is entitled Zmiana [A Change]). Łoziński made it for Polish TV when he was a student; it was counted as his pre-graduation project.
- 1972 Koło Fortuny [Wheel of Fortune]. TV film recounting the preparations for the return from Sapporo of the ski jumper Wojciech Fortuna after he had won a gold Olympic medal. Awards: 1973 - Critics Award at the International Sports Film Festival, Oberhausen.
- 1973 Happy End. Written and produced with Paweł Kędzierski. A purge in the style of those of March 1968 is to take place at a party meeting. Instead, it turns into a psychodrama. Although officially not stopped by censorship, the film was only shown at the Krakow Short Film Festival and at Film Clubs.
- 1974 Rano, południe, wieczor [Morning, Noon, Evening]. TV film. Awards: 1974 - Kraków, "Syrenka Warszawska" Film Critics Award.
- 1974 Biolodzy [Biologists]. Made to order. About the Marceli Nencki Institute.
- 1974 Wizyta [A Visit]. A "Polityka" weekly journalist Marta Wesolowska and photo-reporter Erazm Ciolek visit Urszula Flis, who runs a country farm. A young woman living on her own, Flis is an untypical villager in that she is interested in culture, corresponds with writers, etc. Łoziński revisits her twenty-four years later, in 1998, in Żeby nie bolalo [So It Doesn't Hurt]. Awards: 1975 - "Syrenka Warszawska" Award of the Polish Journalists Association's Film Critics Club at the 5th Short Film Festiwal, Krakow.
- 1974 Król [The King]. Portrait of a perfect conformist: the man who made uniforms for German officers during the war and for officers of the people's army after the war, and who now runs a café and lives the life of a king. Awards: 1978 - Grand Prix at the 3rd Short Film Review in Rzeszów.
- 1975 Zderzenie czołowe [A Head-On Collision] [aka "Front collision"]. Lozinski's diploma film about a railwayman who caused a train accident half a year before retiring. This has negated all of his previous services for the railway company. Awards: 1976 - Grand Prix "Zloty Lajkonik" at the 16th Short Film Festival, Krakow.
- 1976 Film nr 1650 [Film No. 1650]. A mockery of the scourge of stock-counts carried out in all offices and institutions of communist Poland.
- 1977 Jak żyć [Recipe for Life] [aka "How to live?"]. Premiered in 1981, a documentary feature, with actors. An exemplary family contest is run at a Union of Young Polish Socialists camp for young couples. The campers and the camp manager are unaware that the participation of two couples is a set-up. Compliance with strict competition standards becomes a source of a conflict. NB. one of the camp participants was a protagonist of Happy End. Awards: 1981 - 3rd prize and Journalists' Award at the International Film Festival "Man - Work - Art" in Lublin; "Jantar 81" award for a feature debut at the 9th Koszalin Film Meetings "Młodzi i Film".
- 1978 Egzamin dojrzałości [Matriculation]. Premiered in 1981. About a baccalaureate exam in social sciences and history. Students were filmed inside the exam room, where they recited propaganda formulas, and in the corridor, where they laughed at them. Awards: 1981 - "Brązowy Lajkonik" for a documentary (ex aequo with Próba mikrofonu) at the 21. Short Film Festival in Krakow.
- 1978 Dotknięcie [The Touch]. About the visit of Clive Harris, the famous healer, to Warsaw.
- 1978 Vivat Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza [Long Live the Mining and Metallurgical Academy]
- 1979 Okno na podwórze [A Window Overlooking the Yard]. A young man watches the life of the yard through the window. A two-minute impression making a reference to Hitchcock's film.
- 1980 Próba mikrofonu [The Microphone Test]. A Warsaw Pollena-Uroda cosmetics factory radio broadcaster is working on a programme investigating the workers' sense of factory ownership. The workers' answers come as a surprise, especially to the management. About the ruling and the ruled in communist Poland. Awards: 1981 - "Brazowy Lajkonik" for a documentary at the 21. National Short Film Festival in Krakow (ex aequo with Egzaminem dojrzalosci); FIPRESCI award for a documentary and "Brązowy Smok" for Marek Petrycki's screenplay at the 18th International Short Film Festival in Krakow.
- 1984 Szklany dom [Glass House]. About alcoholism. Commissioned by the Warsaw Institute of Psychoneurology.
- 1986 Ćwiczenia warsztatowe [Technical Exercises] [aka "Workshop exercises", "Practice exercises"]. A street poll about contemporary youth. The answers are engineered to show the manipulation of propaganda and television. Awards: 1987 -"Brazowy Lajkonik" and mention for original idea and creativity at the National Short Film Festival, Krakow.
- 1987 Moje miejsce [My Place]. Metaphorical and humorous story about the Sopot Grand Hotel and its employees. They all consider themselves indispensable, all are a constituent part of the building.
- 1988 Temoins [Witnesses]. French-Polish co-production. A 1987 witness account of the July 1946 Kielce pogrom. Illustrated with archival Polish Film Chronicles. Awards: 1989 - Stockholm International Film Festival.
- 1989 Las Katyński [Katyń Forest]. Polish-Belarusian co-production, inspired by Andrzej Wajda. The journey of families of officers murdered in Katyn to the place of the Cheka crime scene serves as a pretext to show the living memory of the crime alongside the attempts to falsify the truth and the story of local people who live in the shadow of the Katyn atrocity. Awards: 1990 - Silver Sesterce, Nyon International Documentary Film Festival; Journalists' Award at the Krakow International Short Film Festival; Grand Prix "Zlote Grono" at the Lagow Lubuskie Film Summer (ex aequo with 45-89); 1991 - Prix Europa, Reykjavik.
- 1990 45-89 (Forty Five - Eighty Nine). Four-part documentary series showing the history of communist Poland seen from the point of view of the left. Public activity and history of post-war Poland is discussed by Lechoslaw Gozdzik, one of the most pronounced champions of the "thaw" of October 1956; Jan Jozef Lipski and Jacek Kuron, members of the Workers' Defence Committee and Solidarity champions; and Zbigniew Bujak, a Solidarity leader. The propaganda vision of communist Poland is shown through fragments of official documentaries in the background. Tadeusz Lubelski called 45-89 "the first filmed synthesis of communist Poland ". Awards: 1990 - Grand Prix of the Lubuskie Film Summer in Lagow (ex aequo with Las Katynski); Edmonton International Film Festival.
- 1991 Siedmiu Żydów z mojej klasy [Seven Jews from my Class]. A meeting with eight classmates who had to leave Poland because of the 1968 anti-Semitic witch-hunt. Awards: 1993 - Special Award (ex aequo with 89 mm od Europy) at the 1st Polish Television Productions Festival.
- 1993 89 mm od Europy [89 mm From Europe]. Polish-French co-production. The Polish-Belarusian border in Brzesc. Wheels are replaced under the train carriages entering the territory of the former USSR, where the gauge is 89 mms wider. Two worlds meet at the platform: the western world of the train passengers and the eastern world of the Belarusian workers. The two groups are unable to understand each other. The film features Lozinski's son Tomaszek, who also appeared in his 1995 production Wszystko moze sie przytrafic. Awards: 1993 - The Juliusz Burski Special Award at the 23rd Lubuskie Film Summer in Lagow; Special Award (shared with 45-89) at the 1st Festival of Polish Television Productions; Grand Prix and the IFFS Award at the 39th International Short Film Festival at Oberhausen; 2nd prize for a TV film at the Balticum Film and TV Festival, Bornholm; the Joan of Arc France Television Special Award at the 4th Marseilles International Documentary Film Festival; 1st prize for a documentary at the 1st Villa do Conde (Portugal) International Short Film Festival; 1st prize for a documentary in Berlin; special European Film Academy mention for a documentary; Golden Dove Award and IG Medien mention at the 36th International Documentary and Animated Film Festival at Leipzig; 1994 - Berlin, nomination to the Felix Award; Grand Prix and Prix Societe Radio-Canada, Montreal International Film Festival; Special Jury Award for a documentary, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival; nominated to the Oscar award for best documentary: short subject; Golden Gate Special Mention, San Francisco; Hamburg International Film Festival Special Mention; 1995 - 3rd prize at the International Short Film Festival, Sydney; 3rd prize, Los Angeles; IDA AWARD for distinguished documentary achievement.
- 1993 Autoportret [Self-Portrait]. Portrait of Longin Frankowski, a Warsaw businessman dealing in waste disposal, known for his controversial views on national issues.
- 1994 Warszawa 94. Podróż sentymentalna [Warsaw 94. A Sentimental Journey]. Polish-German co-production. The filmmaker Andrzej Koszyk and the celebrated opposition bard, journalist and writer Jacek Kaczmarski take a journey across Warsaw, the city in which they were born and grew up.
- 1995 Po zwycięstwie 1989-1995 [After the Victory: 1989-95]. French-Polish production. A feature-length film about the first five years of the 3rd Polish Republic, intended as the fifth part of the series initiated by the four parts of 45-89. It was found - quite rightly so - lacking in objectivity that 45-89 possessed and offering a biased (reflecting only one political option) interpretation of recent history.
- 1995 Wszystko moze sie przytrafic [Anything Can Happen]. Polish-German co-production. A story of life and death, featuring Lozinski's six-year-old son Tomaszek and elderly people spending time on the benches of a Warsaw park. Riding his scooter, Tomaszek asks the elderly very adult, though basic, questions, which they are happy to answer. The boy's ideas of future and life are confronted with those of men at the end of their lives. Awards: 1995 - Mention of the Catholic Jury, Award of the Ministry of Culture of Rhein-Westfallen and FICC Award at the 41st International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen; Honorary Diploma and the Zielona Gora Film Culture Club Award at the 25th Lubuskie Film Summer, Lagow; Grand Prix and the Kodak Award at the 6th Balticum Film and TV Festival, Bornholm; Grand Prix "Zloty Smok", FIPRESCI award and FILM PRO award at the 32nd International Short Film Festival in Krakow; FICC award at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival; Culture Foundation Special Award; "Polityka's Passport"; 1996 - Golden Spire for a documentary at the 39th San Francisco Film Festival; Input award in Mexico; 1997 - 1st prize for a documentary at the World Television Festival, Tokyo.
- 1998 Żeby nie bolało [So It Doesn't Hurt]. Second part of Wizyta, made twenty-four years later. Urszula Flis, the woman who runs a country farm on her own, is revisited by the photo-reporter Erazm Ciolek and the "Gazeta Wyborcza" journalist Agnieszka Kublik. The film makes a reference to the first visit, which focused on the interference of the media in Flis's life, the attempts of the communist Polish propaganda to manipulate her. A film about loneliness, lost (or won?) life, the limits of filmmakers' interference in the life of a documentary protagonist. Flis herself sets such a limit, saying "let it not hurt". Awards: 1998 - 3rd prize at the 9th Balticum Film and Television Festival at Bornholm; Golden Dove for a short documentary at the Leipzig Film Festival; Special Award at the International Documentary and Anthropology Festival in Parnu (Estonia).
- 2001 Pamiętam [I Remember]. Polish-US co-production, made for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation using the Foundation's materials. Holocaust stories of four Polish Jews, illustrated with photographs of the Auschwitz March of the Living. Awards: Grand Prix of the Jewish Film Festival, Warsaw.
- 1967 60 sekund dla Pascala [60 Seconds for Pascal]. Experimental film.
- 1969 Berek [Tig]. Feature etude.
- 1970 Na skrzydłach [On the Wings]. Documentary etude.
- 1971 Absolutorium [Certificate of Completion] (associate director: Paweł Kędzierski). Documentary etude. Awards: 1972 - Department of Culture Award at the Student Etude Festival, Łódź.
Marcel Łoziński was involved in the making of Krzysztof Kieślowski's Fabryka [The Factory] (1970) and of Andrzej Wolski's KOR [Workers' Defence Committee] (Paris, 1988).
Author: Jan Strękowski, March 2004