Film director, scriptwriter and actor. Winner of the Golden Lions award for the film Silent Night. Born on April 17, 1983.
Reminiscing the beginnings of his fascination with art, he told Agnieszka Wróbel in an interview for 'Elle':
When I was young, I told myself that I would like to change my profession every year: to work as a taxi driver for a year, a doctor for another and so on. And my mother said that there was just one way to do it: become an actor.
For a boy growing up in Łomża, a provincial town, and having a rather high-pitched voice, acting seemed quite a remote career. In order to work on his vocal technique, Domalewski started singing in a choir and attend classes at a local cultural centre. Soon he presented a monodrama prepared there and received the first acting awards in his life.
That's how Domalewski's adventure with acting began. After graduating from secondary school, he got admitted to the Aleksander Zelwerowicz Academy of Dramatic Art in Białystok and he began his studies at the puppetry department. After graduating, until 2009 he continued his education at the faculty of acting at the National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków.
As an actor he perfomed in the Wybrzeże Theatre. He worked with such directors as Anna Augustynowicz, Grzegorz Wiśniewski and Ewelina Marciniak. In 2010 he was awarded for the part of the son in the play On foot directed by Anna Augustynowicz. He received the Jan Świderski's Prize at the 16th National Competition for the Polish Contemporary Play Staging in Gdańsk. Four years later the jury of the 54th Kalisz Theatre Meetings rewarded him with the Jacek Woszczerowicz's Prize for the part of Ted Bundy in Rodrigo Garcia's play 'Versus' directed by Szymon Kaczmarek of the Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre in Kalisz.
In theatres he played the parts of both romeos and serial killers. He performed the part of Judas, but it was the role of a Nazi in the performance The Fall of the Gods by Grzegorz Wiśniewski in Wybrzeże Theatre that he considers his biggest challenge and an extreme experience.
When his acting career was starting to take off, Domalewski decided to try something new and apply to the Faculty of Radio and Television of the University of Silesia. He wanted to become a director.
Going back to that moment, he told Agnieszka Wróbel:
During the setting, an actor knows what the film will look like only in 30%. It was too little for me: I wanted to know the 100%. And only a director knows everything.
And so he started studying at the directing department, acting and directing at the same time. He nearly finished dreaming about the latter after the first year. His first student etude was rejected by the lecturers of the Katowice Film School and Domalewski got a conditional pass for the second year. It was then that he made the short film Stranger, an adaptation of Musil's The Man Without Qualities, set in the rural reality of Subcarpathia after the liquidation of the State Agricultural Farms. The etude about the fear of the unfamiliar was Domalewski's gateway to the Polish cinema: he received prizes at festivals in Warsaw, Konin, Kraków and Radom.
Stranger was followed by other short films. In 2014 Domalewski directed The Only Way, a comedy-drama about a boy who has stayed at his family house without leaving for years. A year later, in The Moment, he presented an untypical dinner and in Evil Deeds from 2015 he told a story of a 10 year-old-boy who was caught stealing by an elderly man. For this last film Domalewski received prizes at the festivals in Sofia, Klaipėda and Tehran.
In 2016 he realized his last short film, 60 Kilos of Nothing, a 30-minute story of a man who, during his first day at work, has to face challenges putting his moral compass to the test.
Domalewski referred to his student experiences after years, at a press conference during the 42nd Polish Film Festival in Gdynia:
In every short film I tested different mechanisms. In The Moment I learnt to present a family in an enclosed space, in Evil Deeds I practiced sharp jokes and in 60 Kilos of Nothing – realistic storytelling. That's how I gathered my munitions which I could make use of in my debut.
This debut was Silent Night, a big winner of the 42nd Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. In the film Domalewski presented a family spending a Christmas Eve somewhere in the Polish countryside. The protagonist comes back from his work abroad in order to spend Christmas at home.
In Silent Night Domalewski combines comedy and family drama. He created an image full of tenderness, showing the poorer areas of Poland without embellishing or caricaturing it. The film is about economic exclusion, emigration and disintegration of interpersonal relations that it causes. However, instead of passionate manifests and ideological tirades, the director proposed an intimate portrait of a Polish family.
In an interview given to the Polish Press Agency Domalewski said:
I wanted to deal with something that I know. I know this type of a family well, so I decided to present it. It would have been hard to build a story, at least at that moment of my career, about a Christmas Eve in artistic or aristocratic circles. I didn't want to invent anything. I think that I wouldn't have felt good in such confabulation. That's why I showed something that I know from my own experience.
In his debut film Domalewski reached for his family stories and memories and showed a world that he knows perfectly well. That is the source of the genuineness of the film and its emotional strength. The strength intensified by the parts of Dawid Ogrodnik, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Agnieszka Suchora, Tomasz Ziętek, Maria Dębska and Paweł Nowisz.
During the festival in Gdynia Silent Night won the hearts of the jury and journalists and received as many as seven awards, including the most important one: the Golden Lions award for the best film.
The debut film received many favourable reviews from the citics. Piotr Guszkowski wrote in 'Gazeta Wyborcza':
In his excellent debut film Piotr Domalewski showed the Christmas Eve and captured the essence of Polishness. He shows who we are, what we are afraid of and what we want to hide. However, he did it with such tenderness that even if looking in the mirror hurts, it does not leave the audience hopeless.
Janusz Wróblewski on the other hand wrote in 'Polityka':
The tension rises imperceptibly. Even though a catastrophe is inevitable, what attracts the audience's attention most is the fight for keeping the balance. Everything is based on private experiences, feelings and psychological truth. A big Domalewski's merit is that he managed to show this world without hatred.
The recognition at the festival was followed by an attendance success. Domalewski's debut film attracted 320,000 of viewers and became one of the most willingly watched Polish films of 2017 and a proof that even an ambitious, intelligent film can be appreciated by a broad audience.
Sources: 'Elle', 'Dziennik. Gazeta Prawna', 'Gazeta Wyborcza', 'Polityka', own materials.
Originally written in Polish by BS, translated by MW, Jan 2018.