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Paweł Łoziński

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Paweł Łoziński, fot. Tomasz Barański/Reporter/East News
Paweł Łoziński, photo: Tomasz Barański/Reporter/East News

Paweł Łoziński is a director, scriptwriter and producer of documentaries. Born 1965 in Warsaw.

Table of contents: | BackgroundNon-action CinemaThe Only Feature Film Everyday PeopleFather and SonFilmography |

Background

Before he enrolled at film school, he tried his hand at many other professions. He worked as a carpenter at the WFDiF (Documentaries and Feature Films Production Company in Warsaw), as a warehouseman at a grocery and as a fence painter. He also tried studying IT and physics. In 1988, he was accepted at the National Film School in Łódź and graduated in 1992, making a full-length documentary, Miejsce Urodzenia (Birthplace). His feature début Kratka (Grate) (and his only feature film up to date) came in 1996. 

In recent years, he has started producing his own films, as well as cooperating with his father, Marcel Łoziński – a celebrated documentary director, with whom he made 89 mm od Europy (89 mm from Europe) and Wszystko może się przytrafić (Anything Can Happen). Paweł’s way of showing the world is akin to his father’s works, especially when it comes to his relationship with the characters. His second huge influence comes from the legacy of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s style, which can be seen in Łoziński’s seriousness in taking on difficult subjects and the respect he has towards the characters. It is also a source of his attempts to deal with the most controversial, socially or historically important matters. 

Non-action cinema

Miejsce urodzenia (Birthplace) took on one of matters of that kind. It presents the issue of the memories of  the strained Polish-Jewish relationship of the Nazi occupation period. It is shocking documentary, where the main character finds the corpse of his father and finds out that one of his Polish neighbours was the murderer.

Other moves directed by Łoziński, which tend to touch the most difficult issues of the war and post-war periods, are Mój spis z natury we wsi Leźno Małe (realized as part of the series Nasz spis powszechny / Our Census, produced by him) and his episode Między Drzwiami (Between the Doors) (part of the international series Across the Border). The latter talks about Poles who were expelled from the Eastern borderlands and forced to move to the lands from which the Germans had themselves been expelled.

Yet, he is mostly renowned for creating simple, intimate films, documenting ordinary peoples' stories, in which the smallest problems of his characters are shown against the background of wider social issues. Two films of this kind are Taka historia (A Just So Story) and Siostry (Sisters). They were both realized by Paweł Łoziński on his own, using only a compact digital camera ensuring intimacy and not requiring any additional crew who could interfere with his relationship with the portrayed people.

What I am interested in is ‘those little issues’, trivial, seemingly negligible things. It turns out that they can become the substance of life. In the movie that I am currently working on, there is not much action, but this lack of action appears to be the most interesting to me. I think that what may seem boring at the first glance is in fact the most fascinating, once you start to investigate it – said Paweł Łoziński during his work on Taka historia (A Just So Story).

This approach may be a sign of an impact of the ‘Karabasz School’, a way of making documentaries, which was established by Kazimierz Karabasz, godfather of all Polish documentary film-makers. His ideas can be easily found in Łoziński words:

I am interested in observing normal life. By a ‘documentary’, I understand an original way of looking at the world, at true stories, presented in such a way that they mean slightly more than they initially seem to (…) I think that a terse documentary, going deep into the subject, will mean much more to the audience than a flashy action film, which tends to work like a colourful fan: you open it, than you close it and it is no longer interesting, its over. 

A sill from Father and Son, dir, Paweł Łoziński

The only feature film

 Kratka (Grate) is a feature film in the same vein as the films described above. It is a simple, terse story of characters excluded from the pursuit of success - a boy and an old man. It is a story about solitude, helplessness, searching for a soul mate. However, it is based on the trivial scheme of a coincidental encounter between two people and their conflict which turns into friendship. It carries a huge load of emotions.

Paweł Łoziński builds his film from the little bricks, just like everyone builds their own life. He shows normality which brings issues essential for every human – wrote Bożena Janicka about Taka historia (A Just So Story) and Siostry (Sisters), but it could apply also to Kratka (Grate) or less-known and successful Pani z Ukrainy (A Woman From Ukraine). 

Everyday people

He works with ‘everyman’ characters who might come across as unattractive, but with whom the audience can nevertheless identify.

In Taka historia (A Just So Story) he portrayed his own neighbours. He shot the film by himself, meeting a drunk, Wiesio, Mrs. Ania and Mr. Zdzisław, a retired barber living on the lower floor. He did the same in Pani z Ukrainy (A Woman From Ukraine), which is a story of a Ukrainian lady who came to Poland to work as cleaning lady to help her poor family. Chemia (Chemo) was made alongside his visits to the oncology department where one of his relatives was receiving treatment for cancer.

There are signs of death in every of Łoziński’s films.  - wrote Darek Arest in Dwutygodnik (fortnightly magazine) - Death is not, however, the subject matter, it is more of a framework that defines the world (…) Once he enters his characters’ world, they start to talk about shadows, the shadows of communist reality (where everyone was employed), the mythical mushroom picking, people who have passed away. It is obvious that soon those people will be gone, just like the shadows of their narratives.

Father and Son

For twenty years I’ve been making films about other people, I was looking for intimacy in their lives. But suddenly I decided to pivot the camera and point it at me and my father – said Paweł Łoziński in the interview for Culture.pl 

In 2013 they realized an outstanding project. They went to Paris, making on the way a documentary about them. Their ‘psychobus’ became a space for dramatic confessions, where there are no taboos but instead, essential questions are posed and non-obvious answers are given. Two films Ojciec i syn (Father and Son) and Ojciec i syn w podróży (Father and Son on a Journey) were the outcome of their journey. The second one is an alternative version of the first, edited by Marcel Łoziński. Both films were awarded many times,such as at  the Kraków Film Festival (Best Documentary), Moscow, Minsk and Teheran. 

Father and son from Culture.pl on Vimeo.

The difficult art of conversation

Although Father and Son was an undoubted artistic success, Paweł Łoziński later said that it didn't completely work out as a psychological experiment, it didn't solve the problems between him and his father. Maybe that is why the difficult art of conversation is the subject of his next film, You Have No Idea How Much I Love You (2016). A mother talks with her daughter, but there is someone else as well: a psychotherapist - one of the best Polish family therapists, professor Bogdan de Barbaro to be exact. Łoziński shot a film without any spectacular effects: we only observe three people talking with each other, but - as many reviewers claimed - there is more intensity of emotion here than in most thrillers. 

Filmography

Etudes:

  • 1989 - Jatka (Bloodbath) – feature etude
  • 1989 - Struktura (Structure) – documentary etude. A portrait of a jailer who presents his views (unchanged  for 40 years despite political transformation) on bringing up children, society and role of the state.
  • 1991 – Podróż (Journey) – feature etude. An adaptation of Henryk Grynberg’s novel Żydowska Wojna (Jewish War). A story of a Jewish group, hiding in a shelter in forest in the spring of 1943.

Documentaries:

  • 1992 - Miejsce urodzenia (Birthplace) – full-length documentary. A coverage of the journey of Jewish-Polish writer Henryk Grynberg to the area where his family sheltered to avoid extermination during Nazi occupation. A dramatic flashback of bestial times, ended with a discovery of Grynberg’s father and young brother bones as well as the murderers names.
  • 1995 - 100 lat w kinie (100 Years in the Cinema) – Polish episode of international series 100 Years of Cinema directed according to guidelines by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
  • 1997 – Japonia (Japan) – Documentary series consisting of 6 episodes covering the journey to Japan of Tsuneo Okazaki, a Japanese who has lived in Poland  for past 30 years.
  • 1997 - Sławomir Mrożek przedstawia (Sławomir Mrożek Presents) – biographic film. A visit to the Mexican ranch of Sławomir Mrożek before his comeback to Poland after emigration.
  • 1999 – Siostry (Sisters)a twelve-minute story of two old sisters with whom Paweł Łoziński shared the same courtyard. Image of old age and its struggles.
  • 1999 - Taka historia (Just a So Story) – Full-length film. A story of Łoziński’s neighbours. Łoziński shot the film by himself only, meeting a drunk,  Wiesio, Mrs. Ania and Mr. Zdzisław, and a retired barber living on the lower floor.
  • 2002 - Mój spis z natury we Wsi Leźno Małe  (Physical Census in Leźno Małe) (a part of Our Census series). A Film made during the National Census, which took place in 2002. It is an image of the present day Polish villages and its inhabitants problems.
  • 2002 - Pani z Ukrainy (The Lady From Ukraine) the story of a Ukrainian lady who came to Poland to work as cleaning lady to help her poor family 2004 presented by herself during the cleaning of Łoziński’s flat.
  • 2004 - Między drzwiami  (Between the Doors) – First part of the international cycle of Across the Border. A story of the inhabitants of cross-border town, who arrived there mandatorily after II World War. An image of every-day reality haunted by dramatic migration of the people.
  • 2006 – Wygnańcy (Exils).  A painful narrative of Poles – repatriates from Eastern Borderlands about their exile and compulsory move to Western Poland. It is a story of transiency becoming permanency.
  • 2007 Jacek Hugo-Bader. Korespondent z Polszy (Jacek Hugo-Bader. A Correspondent Form Poland). Documentary Cycle covering a journey to Ukraine by Jacek Hugo-Bader – a well-known Polish journalist and traveller.
  • 2008, Kici, kici. The story of four women feeding homeless cats.
  • 2009 Chemia (Chemo). A collective portrait of a group of oncology patients. The director films a few hours of their life spent on a drip. 
  • 2010 Inwentaryzacja (Inventory). A metaphorical tale about memory, searching for one's identity and exploring the past. The director films the inventory works done with the goal of recreating a lost village. 
  • 2013 Ojciec i syn (Father and Son). They share the name, and the beloved profession, but they have a difficult relationship, full of resentiment and secrecy. Two great documentalists, Marcel Łoziński and Paweł Łoziński go on a trip around Europe. For the father it's a return to his birthplace, for the son - a way to understand their shared past. They both try to film this difficult dialogue. 
  • 2014 WerkaWhere does  human sacrifice come from? Where are its limits? The protagonist's life isn't easy: she's busy from dusk till dawn, spending only few hours in the match factory. The woman wants to fix past mistakes. With her husband, she decides to take care of disabled Weronika. The real, everyday fight which requires real sacrifice, takes place silently, far away from any big words. 
  • 2016 Nawet nie wiesz, jak bardzo cię kocham (You Have No Idea How Much I Love You). The film shows the difficult process of healing the relationship between a mother and a daughter during therapy sessions conducted by professor Bogdan de Barbaro.  

Feature Films:

  • 1996 Kratka (Grate)  a feature film. It is a simple, terse story of characters excluded from the pursuit of success, a boy and an old man. It is a story about solitude, helplessness, searching for a soul mate. However it bases on trivial scheme of coincidental encounter of two people and their conflict which turns into friendship, it carries a huge load of emotions.

Trivia

  • Paweł Łoziński assisted works on Trzy kolory. Biały  (Three Colours: White by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
  • Simultaneously, alongside his father, he works on Kinematograf (Nickelodeon), which is an response for growing popularity of reality shows.
  • Paweł Łoziński won numerous awards on major documentary film festivals, such as being rewarded for his début Kratka (Grate) at the Gdynia Film Festival (1996), Golden Lajkonik for films Taka historia (A Just so Story) and Siostry (Sisters) at the Polish Film Festival in Kraków (1999) and a Grand Prix at the DOK Leipzig Film Festival (1999)

Author: Jan Strękowski, September 2004; Updated: NMR, October 2016, Translated by W.O.

Culture.pl's picture
Culture.pl
2014/02/27
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Paweł Łoziński

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Paweł Łoziński

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