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Piotr Dumała

Piotr Dumała, photo: Filip Miller / East News

Animated film director and screenwriter, feature film set designer and writer.

Born 9.07.1956 in Warsaw.

Dumała studied art conservation (specializing in stone sculpture) as well as, for two years, animation at the Graphic Art Faculty under the well-known animated film director Daniel Szczechura, both at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. By the time he graduated in 1982, he had made his directing debut with the animated film Lykantropia / Lycantrophy. Presently Dumała teaches animation at the Łódź Film, Television and Theatre School as well as being a writer. He has his prose published in installments (the novel Ederly in the magazine Kino), and a collection of his short stories Gra w żyletki appeared in print in 2000.

Dumała boasts a number of animated film awards, including Stanisław Wyspiański Young Artists Award in 1986, Wielki FeFe Award for "doing his own thing in the cinema" at the 10th FEFE Film Festival in Warsaw in 2003 and Luna de Valencia Award for Life Achievement in 2003. He is also the winner of Grand Prix awards at the film festivals in Krakow, Mannheim, Łagów, Oberhausen and Huesca, and of prizes for his commercial work, such as title sequences for music programmes, including Gold Award of Broadcast Designers' Association in Olrlando for Charlatan, MTV logo, in 1994 and Gold Award at the 1996 Los Angeles Festival for Kafka meets Dostoevsky.

Magician of Animation

Dorota Szwarcman calls Dumała "almost a cult figure nowadays" (Wprost, 26 March 2000) and Jacek Dobrowolski (Kino 6/2002) hails him as "a magician of animated film for adults". Bożena Jędrzejczak (Film 35/1993), in turns, points to an unprecedented phenomenon in Polish cinema at large:

"It is not Kieślowski, Wajda or Pasikowski who are the most sought-after, loved and welcome of Polish filmmakers at almost all of the world's festivals. It is Piotr Dumała."

What is so special about Dumała? Many film critics and essayists have tried to answer this question, and Dumała has helped them through what he has said and written about animation in general and his own work in particular. He comes across as an artist who is aware of both his art and of the objectives he sets for himself. The only thing which is missing from that image of his are references to his predecessors, the earlier great Polish animated filmmakers whose successor and, whether he likes it or not, a continuator he is. This relationship acquired a symbolic significance when Dumała played a main part in Wyspa R.O., the last work by the classic of animation, Jan Lenica.

Real Cinema

As it happens, it was Lenica who, together with Walerian Borowczyk, had named the goals of animated films - that is the topics they can, and should, address. According to them, animation should leave behind the superficial fun of a cat running after a mouse to communicate serious, profound and sophisticated messages. In line with that, the older generation of animators addressed philosophical, satirical and social issues and focused on existential concerns and obsessions related to the civilization and atrocities of war, softening the effect with grotesque, absurd and black humour. Some, like Daniel Szczechura in his Fatamorgana, came close to surrealism.

Those goals - somewhat modified - are important for Dumała, too, who confided in interview about his film Franz Kafka to Tadeusz Sobolewski (Kino, 6/1992):

"Animation has traditionally used conventional figures, looking like Bolek and Lolek - flat men without shadows or space. And when someone starts - like I do - to use shadows (all of my 'drawn' lights and shadows were underlined with real lights or shadows), he is said to copy feature films. ... People generally think that animation is either flat kid cartoons or esoteric avant-garde. The truth is that animation does not copy 'the real cinema'. It is 'the real cinema'."

Dumała believes that, like features, animated films, too, reflect real life and re-create the internal narration that goes on in the minds, imaginations or dreams of their makers. His view is essential to understanding the success of his films - and of their public reception as films about real people and real problems, even though they do not have real actors.

Some of Dumała's films are works of a lesser weight. Made on the foundations laid by his predecessors, they include Lykantropia, his debut, and Czarny Kapturek / Little Black Riding Hood, a black humour fairy tale for grownups (although Dumała called it a 'psychological film' when interviewed by Krzysztof Biedrzycki, Kino 16/1986). Here belong also his sketches from the series Nerwowe życie, the film Latające włosy / Flying Hair and the grotesque Wolność nogi / Freedom of the Leg, whose atmosphere is evocative of Gorejące palce by Dumała's teacher, Daniel Szczechura. Yet Dumała's masterpieces - his most talked about, admired and valued animations - are, surprisingly, his psychological films which move away from the Polish animated filmmaking tradition. These include more or less faithful adaptations of literary classics as well as psychological portraits of the authors, such as Łagodna / The Gentle One after a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka about the author of The Trial, The Castle and The Metamorphosis, based largely on Kafka's Diaries, and a half-an-hour-plus long adaptation of Dostoevsky' most famous novel, Crime and Punishment.

"After all, feature films are man-made, too. The people, the objects, the light and the time are invented .... Even documentaries are sometimes invented," says Dumała in an interview given to the documentary filmmaker Maciej Drygas (Kwartalnik Filmowy 19-20/1997).

Indeed, Dumała's characters are not only filmed as real actors - the play and behave as real people. This is what Barbara Kosecka wrote about the film Franz Kafka (Kwartalnik Filmowy 19-20/1997): "The figures move with an indescribable fluidity and flexibility " ... [The expressiveness] of "animated images is so great that even a motionless face expresses a sensual, vibrant living".

Crime and Punishment


No wonder, than, that Dumała's Zbrodnia i kara / Crime and Punishment goes as far as presenting highly complex relationships between its many characters and develops a number of themes. The inspiration came from the films of the Russian director Yuri Norstein:

"In animation you can show reactions which are impossible in reality, for instance a man standing in a fire and laughing. Yet is it much more fascinating to show that the beings created by myself respond like living people, they think and observe," says Dumała (Kino 9/1990).

Dumała's deliberate references to feature films started from Łagodna / The Gentle One, in which, as observed by Krzysztof Biedrzycki (Kino 10/1986), "he adopted the 'big cinema' effects of camera movement, fast editing cuts, contrasting shots". In Franz Kafka and Zbrodnia i kara / Crime and Punishment Dumała has used fast editing cuts, multiple foregrounds and backgrounds and three-dimensionality to create an impression of a photography-like perspective.

Dumała is, however, closer to the silent cinema, that is to the films which are more conventionalized than sound movies but, because of that, the messages they convey are purer. Like in the silent cinema, Dumała's animations have no dialogues - not even his thirty-four minutes' long Zbrodnia i kara. A compensation for the character's internal life is offered by the sound whose powerful realism also opens up alternative meanings and interpretations while maintaining purity of the form. For Dumała never forgets that it is animations he makes - such as when he applies ideas which are only possible in animation alongside the ones borrowed from features. Take Łagodna, Dumała's animation in which a table turns into a bed and a clock becomes a square, and a huge spider is growing under the table as a symbol of the mounting threat of an emotional disaster for the film's two characters, the young woman and her much older husband. Or take Franz Kafka, whose protagonist transforms himself several times, finally becoming a dog.

Two Kinds of Animations

Dumała's animations have provoked a variety of critical insights, the early ones emphasizing the diversity of his pursuits (Krzysztof Biedrzycki, Kino 10/1986). In contrast, nowadays critics tend to stress the coherence of his work - though they divide it into two main currents. The first one, started from Dumała's debut Lykantropia, includes also Czarny Kapturek, Nerwowe życie kosmosu, Latające włosy, Wolność nogi, Nerwowe życie and Ściany / Walls (while conveying a different message, Ściany share the first current's characteristics of having no express hero). The other current includes Dumała's adaptations, that is Łagodna, Franz Kafka and Zbrodnia i kara.

Dumała himself points to the consistency of his animations and writing, the link provided by the logic of dreams and references to his own mind with its obsessions, anxieties and sensations. He says he experiences things with his characters and identifies himself with them, be they literary figures or not. He compares animated films to dreams, implying that dreams are works which are ready to be written down or produced (Kino 1/2003). Critics, too, point to the logic of dreams in Dumała's writing and filmmaking (for instance Marcin Giżycki, Nie tylko Disney: rzecz o filmie animowanym, Warsaw 2000). The difference between his lesser-weight and heavier-weight animations is that the former, akin to surrealism, are fully governed by the logic of dreams (a man wakes up, puts his feet on the floor and drowns, the floor turning to be a lake), while the latter may resemble a continuum of nightmares, yet their bits and pieces make realistic and psychologically true tales, such as in the story of Kafka's life (Franz Kafka) or the tale of Raskolnikov the murderer of the usurer (Zbrodnia i kara).

One cannot but trust Dumała's claim that both kinds of his animations are very personal, a characteristic which is seen as another strength by viewers who find in them depth and authenticity which they often miss in feature films. Here they can watch a world populated by flesh and blood people and at the same time they can touch mystery - including the mystery of existence. "We are moving towards the metaphysical cinema," says Dumała (Kino 10/1989), who reaches out for Dostoevsky and Kafka, that is literature which, as was pointed out by Małgorzata Karbowiak (Film 34/1988), is hardly translatable "into pictures". According to Karbowiak, the more "unsuitable a topic is for a film, the more interesting is the production". Dumała himself says he wants his films "to be marked by simplicity, yet to contain a mystery," something even he sometimes fails to understand (Machina 12/1998).


Plaster Panel Technique

Viewers of most of Dumała's films are able recognize his work after they have seen the first shots - a thing which does not happen in the case of most filmmakers and which is a result of animation on plaster panels, an innovative technique which Dumała invented based on his experience as a student of stone sculpture conservation at the Fine Arts Academy. Writes Marcin Giżycki (Kwartalnik Filmowy 19-20/1997):

"It would seem that there is nothing that has not been animated since the first screening by the brothers Lumière. There have been reliefs in thick pain layers and collages from old drawings, sand castles and drawings made directly on the film, pin screens and computer-generated pictures. Piotr Dumała is one of the few contemporary artists to have been able to add something new to this ... list of techniques. ... Painting and re-painting, scratching and scrubbing a picture he achieves beautiful, soft transitions between sequences and a surprisingly rich texture which brings to mind a painter's canvass."

It seems perfectly valid to say that Dumała would be different - interesting, but one of many - had he not started to use the plaster panel technique. Indeed, some of his films may not have been made, and it would have been difficult for him to make his drawn characters look alive, realistic and able to experience emotions as well as - and this is particularly evident in Zbrodnia i kara - to make them unique and expressive and seem to have their own internal lives and individual, distinguishing traits. This was pointed out by Małgorzata Karbowiak when she wrote about Łagodna, Dumała's second film made with the use of engraving on plaster, hailed by the critics his first masterpiece to have demonstrated the full strengths of this unique technique of his.

"An astonishingly difficult task has been accomplished: that of showing two people who, while living side by side, cannot establish mutual contact, and at the same time of giving it a universal appeal - the task of making a philosophical as well as psychological film", wrote Karbowiak. "Philosophy is much easier to achieve in animated cinema; psychology comes much harder."

This is what Dumała, who according to Karbowiak has found 'a technique which perfectly serves the purpose', said in an interview with Krzysztof Biedrzycki (Film 16/1986):

"I wanted to try to make an animated psychological film. Animated films are supposed to be either fun or sublime artistic visions. I wanted to enter the human mind, to prove that animation is suitable for presenting the most central human issues."

Marcin Giżycki, in turn, wrote (Nie tylko Disney...):

"The full potential of plaster boards was demonstrated ... by the two films after Dostoevsky, Łagodna and Zbrodnia i kara. Today these works are hard to imagine made using some other technique. The thick drawing and texture and the extraordinary fluidity of animation achieved through the transformation of a starting picture instead of replacing it with another the way classical cartoons do can only be compared with the effects obtained by Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker with the use of another unique technique, the pinscreen. ... The plaster technique has proven particularly suitable for bringing to daylight the huge spiders and other phantoms from the characters' souls."

Old Masters

Watching Dumała's films we seem to commune with the great masters of European painting, a feeling which is confirmed by him when interviewed by Krzysztof Biedrzycki (Film 16/1986):

"Latające włosy and Łagodna were made, besides myself, by Munch, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Redon, Daumier."

And this is another strength of Dumała's animations made using plaster boards - that is of most of his works. He approaches them the way the old masters did, covering the boards with a layer of paint to provide the background. Baroque inspirations are particularly noticeable (Latające włosy, Łagodna), shades of brown, white and black dominating and other colours seldom used (Zbrodnia i kara). When writing about Łagodna (Kino 10/1986), Krzysztof Biedrzycki is right to observe that the blacks and browns "create an atmosphere of hopelessness, of the two characters being trapped", while the red wine in a glass and the red of the woman's dress are like a scream. And there is a real scream in Łagodna: at one point the woman's face becomes shaped like the face from Edvard Munch's famous painting, which is a strikingly literal device.

There are more such references to works by and quotations from old masters in Dumała's animations, and they provide extra meanings as well as introducing clear cultural signs, a trick which attracts the viewers' attention, a sophisticated post-modernist game which the artist fully controls. Jacek Dobrowolski has called Dumała "a spiritual cousin of the Quay Brothers (...) the magicians of the avant-garde animated filmmaking". Like they, he too

"traverses the stormy waters of liberated imagination which were earlier sailed across by other visionary symbolists: Goya and Max Ernst, Odilon Redon, Daniel Mróz, Edward Gorey, Jonathan Swift, Kafka, Borges and Edgar Allan Poe".

The world he creates, however, is his very own:

"It is a kingdom of night and darkness, dreams and shadows, where silhouettes emerge from the dark and stay in semi-darkness, never appearing in bright daylight (...) It is the world of a child amazed with the beauty and cruelty of the World" (Kino 6/2002).

This is what Dumała says about it in an interview with Małgorzata Pawłowska-Tomaszek (Kwartalnik Filmowy 19-20/1997):

"What interests me in filmmaking is the penetration of the 'ultimate mystery', that is of what we do not understand, what has got no name. It is God for some, fate for some, and for others it is the reason for the existence of the world or the question who we are and why we exist, or what drives what we do. We live to approach this mystery - everyone in their own way."

Dumała's engraving on plaster technique, which has been successful also in his commercial assignments, and the superior artistic effect achieved in Zbrodnia i kara have been a challenge to which he has since responded with Las and John D., an animation on John Doe, a sixteenth-century English magician and scholar. Both films use a combined acting-and-drawing technique.

His first feature was Las / The Forest, which combined the technique of animation with cinematography by Adam Sikora. The main roles of father and son were played by Stanisław Brudny and Mariusz Bonaszewski. In 2009 it was shown in the main competition of the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, were it was awarded with a special prize for artistic merit, as well as in the competition of the Era New Horizons film festival in Wrocław. It was also nominated for four Orzeł awards. 

I've watched The Forest. It is a perfect, pure, fulfilled film. Something very rare. An organic piece of art, which stands on its own. Simple, minimalistic, hypnotizing. Mysterious as a dream (...) This film is filled with something long forgotten in Polish cinema, something characteristic of Has's films. Cinema is truly personal not when it gives us the director's intimate experience, but when it says something important about me as a viewer, something, that makes me ask: "how did he know that?" - wrote Tadeusz Sobolewski ("Gazeta Wyborcza", 15.09.2009). 

Dumała is the protagonist of Joanna Dylewska's documentary Świat według Piotra D. / The World According to Piotr D. (2001). The first Polish screening of his latest feature, Ederly, will take place at the T-Mobile New Horizons film festival in July 2016. 


Film etudes:

  • 1976 - Przemiana / The Metamporphosis
  • 1977 - Śmierć Hindenburga / Hindenburgh's Death
  • 1980 - Scenka rodzajowa / A Genre Scene

Animated films:

  • 1981 - Lykantropia / Lycantrophy; combined technique; black humour. A story of werewolves who prove to be people turned into beasts. Based on a grotesque idea: a pack of hungry wolves is waiting for a tasty morsel - a man. Suddenly one of them drops the wolf's skin, revealing he is a man. This is his undoing - he is eaten by his companions. Other wolves do the same one by one and each one meets the same fate" (Krzysztof Biedrzycki, Kino 10/1986). Awards: 1986 - Stanisław Wyspiański Award at the Lubuskie Lato Filmowe in Łagów, together with Łagodna and Latające włosy.
  • 1983 - Czarny Kapturek/ Little Black Riding Hood; cartoon. Black humour. An alternative version of the popular fairytale. The Black Riding Hood boy is a black character who devours the wolf. The wolf then eats up the hunter who, however, gets out from its stomach. The end is less bloody and fantastic and more human. The wolf discovers a naked woman in bed and throws himself on her, demonstrating his 'male organ' to the audience. "The success of the film is built on the way it was drawn. Dumała contrasts his 'black' version of the fairytale with extremely simple, almost childlike drawing. This clash between the pictures and the content is the key source of humour" (Marcin Giżycki, Nie tylko Disney: rzecz o filmie animowanym, Warsaw 2000). Awards: 1983 - 2nd Award in the 5 to 10 minute category at the 3rd International Animated Film Festival in Varna; 1984 - honorary mention at the 12th International Huesca Film Festival.
  • 1984 - Latające włosy / Flying Hair. A poetic, impressionistic work about a girl and a boy in love with each other who go out for a walk. Suddenly a storm breaks out. The girl's hair turns into sharp needles which fly around attacking and destroying everything. Only the couple are safe. Dumała's first film using his own technique of engraving in plaster to produce fascinating artistic effects and flowing movements. "It is a symbolic film. All of it is a symbol. It acts on the subconscious" (Film 16/1986, Krzysztof Biedrzycki's interview). "It is not a perverse fairytale, it is a poetic tale of the redeeming power of love" (Krzysztof Biedrzycki, Kino 10/1986). Awards: 1984 - Artistic Merit Award at 24th National Short Film Festival in Cracow; 1986 - Stanisław Wyspiański Award at the Lubuskie Lato Filmowe in Łagów, together with Łagodna and Lykantropia.
  • 1985 - Łagodna / The Gentle One. A free adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's short story by the same title. A study of jealousy, love, hatred and alienation of two people, a young woman and an older man. Dumała's first psychological film in which his plaster board technique proved highly successful. Janusz Zaremba wrote (Ekran 25/1985) that Dumała achieved "a very evocative artistic equivalent for Dostoyevsky's short story". "His 'Łagodna' ... is made of chiaroscuro, dark sepia images with a single source of light, producing the impression that Rembrandt's etchings have come alive" (Jacek Dobrowolski, Kino 6/2002). Zygmunt Konieczny's moving music accompanies the characters' retrospections. "Łagodna is one of the most interesting achievements of Polish animation. It is a gripping film - and a wise one, too" (Krzysztof Biedrzycki, Kino 10/1986). Awards: 1985 - Cinematography President Animated Film Award for photography; Brązowy Lajkonik at 5th National Short Film Festival in Cracow; Golden Dragon Grand Prix Award at 12th International Short Film Festival in Cracow, 1st Prize at 3rd National Animated Film Competition in Cracow; Golden Ducat at 34th International Film Festival in Mannheim; Best Animated Film Award at International Short Film Festival in Tours; Silver Dancer Animated Film Award at 13th International Short Film Festival in Huesca; 1986 - Special Prize in the 5 to 15 minute category at International Animated Film Festival in Hamilton, Canada; 1st Prize at the Lubuskie Lato Filmowe in Łagów; Stanisław Wyspiański Young Artist Award, together with Latające włosy and Lykantropia; 1987 - Award of 2nd ANIMAFILM Animated Film Festival in Zamość.
  • 1986 - Nerwowe życie kosmosu. Black humour. A strange world, populated by characters from frightening fairytales, somewhere in the universe. Awards: 1987 - Honorary Diploma at 24th International Short Film Festival, Cracow.
  • 1986 - Academy Leader Variations (dir. David Ehrlich), sequence of an American film made collectively by artists from Poland, USA, China and Switzerland. Awards: 1987 - Animation Award at 40th Cannes International Film Festival.
  • 1987 - Ściany / Walls. A story of a man locked in a room without an exit and failing to find a way out. Someone drops in a coin through a hole and switches off the bulb. A study of claustrophobia and a gloomy parable interpreted as an allusion to the situation of Poles living within the confines of a communist country. A metaphor of a society living in a totalitarian system. With evocative music by Przemysław Gintrowski. Awards: 1988 - 5 to 10 Minutes Best Film Award at Espinho International Animated Film Festival; mention at Oberhausen International Short Film Festival; 2nd Prize at Mottawa International Animated Film Festival; Spanish Federation of Film Debating Clubs and Silver Dancer for the Best Animated Film at Huesca International Short Film Festival; Golden Dragon Grand Prix at the Cracow 25th International Short Film Festival; Grand Prix at 2nd Animated Film Festival in Zamość; Special Prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival; 1989 - Grand Prix for a 5+ Minute Film for Adults at Animated Film Biennial Fazy '89.
  • 1988 - Wolność nogi / Freedom of the Leg. A dream-like story of a sleeping man whose body parts live their own lives at night to return to him in the morning - all except one leg which has chosen freedom. Its owner as well as a crowd of homeless men chase the leg, but it grows feathers and flies away as a bird. A grotesque tale with a poetic ending and with interesting music by Janusz Hajdun. Awards: 1989 - Grand Prix at 1st Animated Film Biennial FAZY'89 in Bielsko-Biała; Brązowy Lajkonik at 19th National Short Film Festival in Cracow; Professional Prize at the Kiev KROK Festival; 1990 - 1st Prize for a 5 to12 Minute Film at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films.
  • 1988 - Declaration Of Human Rights, sequence of a film made for Amnesty International, USA.
  • 1990 - Horse - made for MTV.
  • 1991 - Franz Kafka. A film about a few years from Kafka's life, based mostly on his Diaries. "Their language, more chaotic and direct, differs from that of the novels - it is expressive, vivid, often crude, but more than anything very detailed and good at conveying the sensuality of the world. It is Kafka whom we do not know from his short stories or aphorisms - one who loves immersing himself in corporality, in people's physiognomies and smells, in the pathological details of their bodies and dress, and in his own, grotesquely enlarged thinness and his body's proneness to illness ... Here is not the author of well-known novels, but, first of all, a man" (Barbara Kosecka, "Kwartalnik Filmowy", 19-20/1997). Barbara Kosecka's praise for the film: " Franz Kafka, a sixteen-minute masterpiece of animation" (Kino 2/2002). Awards: 1992 - Polish Filmmakers Association Award for the Best 1990-1991 Animation; Bronze Dragon for Animated Film and International Federation of Film Clubs (FICC) Don Kichote Award at 39th Cracow ISFF; Grand Prix at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films; Grand Prix at IAFF in Espinho, Portugal; First Prize for the Best Animated Film and the title of Europe's Best 1991-1992 Animated Film at IFF in Madrid; 1st Prize in the 15-30 minute film category at 4th Animated IFF in Hiroshima; Special Mention at IAFF in Stuttgart; The Young Award for Best Animated Film at ISFF at Oberhausen; Best Drawn Animation Award at International Animation Festival in Ottawa; 1993 - 3rd Prize for the Most Original Film at 10th Odensee IFF; 1st Film Poster Prize at the Annecy IFF.
  • 1993 - Nerwowe życie I. A series of twenty-one fifteen-second-long cartoon jokes made for the Łódź Television Centre and including Śniadanie, Mucha, Fryzjer, Ikar, Palec, Ketchup, Zeppelin, Sąsiadki, Papieros, Odwiedziny, Cień, Kapturek and others.
  • 1993 - Charlatan - made for MTV. Awards: 1994 - Golden Statuette of the Broadcast Design Festival in Orlando, Florida; finalist of 36th New York Festival.
  • 1993 - MTV is everywhere - made for MTV. Awards: 1994 - Silver Statuette of the Broadcast Design Festival in Orlando, Florida.
  • 1994 - Nerwowe życie II - three-part animated TV series. Awards: 1994 - Premio Mister Linea at the Treviso Festival.
  • 1994 - Stop Aids - three-part series, 10 seconds each. Awards: 1994 - joint first prize in Slovenia.
  • 1995 - Wieje piaskiem od strony wojny - video-clip for the group Maanam.
  • 1995 - Kafka meets Dostoyevski. Awards: 1996 - Broadcast Design International, Los Angeles, Gold Award.
  • 1996 - Absolut Panushka - 10-second sequence for the US film. Awards: 1996 - Best Animated Campaign at the Holland Animation Film Festival, Utrecht; 1997 - Best Animation Produced for Internet at the World Animation Celebration in Pasadena, California.
  • 1997 - 14 Bajek z królestwa Lailonii - trailer of the series. After a book by Leszek Kołakowski. Each film was made by a different director.
  • 2000 - Zbrodnia i kara / Crime and Punishment. Adaptation of the homonymous novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Thirty-four minutes' long, no dialogues, with music by Janusz Hajdun. "My film is a kind of a dream. It is as if someone has read 'Crime and Punishment' and then had a dream about it" (Gazeta Wyborcza, 29 August 2997, interview by Katarzyna Bielas). Jacek Dobrowolski (Kino 6/2002) wrote: " Crime and Punishment is Piotr Dumała's opus magnum. His mastery in conveying the truth about the human mind is worthy of Bergman's. Although not a single word is said, the perfect narration makes the plot, the states of the killer's mind and St Petersburg's scenery into a unity, and the simplest objects, such as a watch or an axe, speak for themselves as well as for Raskolnikov. The result is an accurate account of the states of the killer's mind and a psychological portrait as penetrating as the one which Dostoevsky made with words." Awards: 2000 - Złota Kreska at National Animated Film Festival in Cracow; 2001 - Korona Króla Kazimierza Animated Film Audience Award at Lato Filmowe in Kazimierz Dolny; Grand Prix at 2nd Biesiada z Filmem Krótkiego Metrażu DAF in Szczecin.
  •  2009 - Walka, miłość i praca / Fight, love and work. First work by Dumała in the public space, outside of cinema and gallery. The inspiration was a piece by a Romanian composer Alexander Balanescu, entitled Lullaby Dream. 
  • 2009 - Las / The Forest. A black and white experimental film. It takes place in two space-time continnums. An elderly man leads his son through the woods, and at the same time he lies in his death bed. The film tries to capture the liminal stage between life and death. It explores the difficult relationship between father and son. Animation is connected on an equal level with scenes played by actors.  The formal idea consists in a smooth editing of these two interwining worlds, so that the viewer doesn't really notice the change, but sees the homogenous language of the story (...)  The subject of both stories is the relationship between a very old man and a middle-aged one. It is a correlation where domination, collaboration, love and death come into play. The story about two men in the woods is a reference to the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.
  • 2010 - Dr Charakter Przedstawia / Dr Charakter Presents. A pastiche of old scientific TV shows and an ironic commentary about the domination of different peculiarities in television. The title character in his show presents original scientistc, inventors and a gallery of curiosities. Legendary Polish film critic Jerzy Płażewski is the voice of Dr Charakter. 
  • 2012 - Kołysanka / Lullaby. Animated short. A dream-like flight above surreal landsacpes to the tune of Krzysztof Komeda's famous lullaby. 
  • 2012 - Dr Charakter Przedstawia 2/ Dr Charakter Presents II
  • 2014 - Hipopotamy / Hippos. Seven young, naked women take a bath with their children in a river flowing through a forest. It's idyllic. A group of five naked men wathces them, hidden in the bushes. They are excited. One of them decides to act, but the woman turns him down. The male falls into the water, raising laughter among his friends. Angry, he stands up and tries to take her by force. 
  • 2016 - Ederly (in production). Ederly is a city outside of time, on the border between reality and dream. It might seem that it exists only for the main protagonist - Slow - to come there. When he arrives, new identities are forced upon him. The film might be described as a surreal comedy with a hint of crime or as a philosophical essay on life. The magical plot is accompanied by a realist visual side and black-and-white cinematography is a reference to silent cinema. Main roles are played by Mariusz Bonaszewski and Gabriela Muskała.

Author: Jan Strękowski, July 2004, updated by NMR, June 2016.'s picture
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Piotr Dumała


As Piotr Dumała's first feature film, it maintains a style which is typical of his animated films: the philosophical musings, the black-and-white frames and the metaphors... Read more about: The Forest - Piotr Dumała

Piotr Dumała


Piotr Dumała



On 9th March, the Polish Institute in Vilnius in collaboration with the Vilnius Art Academy will launch the project Once Upon a Time: the Art of Polish Animation. It features screenings of the best animations by Polish artists, lectures and an exhibition of posters, graphics, drawings, sculptures and installations by Polish animators. Read more about: Once Upon a Time: the Art of Polish Animation in Vilnius

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