They're sensitive, talented and hardworking. Present on theatre stages and the small and big screen in recent years, they take on roles that range from uncompromising rebels to artistic daydreamers to pragmatists. They're Poland's most promising actors of the young generation.
Marcin Kowalczyk in Leszek Dawid's "You Are God", photo: Katarzyna Kural/KinoŚwiat
This revolutionary with great personal charm approaches each role with complete dedication. To bring back to life Magik, the late rapper from Paktofonika, one of Poland's pioneer hip-hop collectives, he prepared for Leszek Dawid's You Are God by entering the world of hip-hop for a whole year: composing songs with his cast colleagues in order to achieve a greater understanding of the characters of the story.
Kowalczyk makes no mistakes in choosing only the most challenging roles. At only 26 he won Best Debut at the Gdynia Film Festival (for his role in You Are God) and the Zbyszek Cybulski Award for actors under 35 distinguished by a remarkable individuality. The award is named for the Polish star famed for leads in films including Andrzej Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds (1958), and has been given to young actors since 1969.
In 2013 we can see Kowalczyk in Martin Rath's Arena and in 2014 we'll have his performance in Krzysztof Skonieczny's experimental Hardkor Disco.
Still from Slawomir Fabicki's "A Man Thing", photo: Kino Świat
This 30-year-old can pull off playing a bad boy, a caring boyfriend and a corporate sleazeball. He's starred in 21 movies and is highly sought after. He made his breakthrough in Sławomir Fabicki's story of a 19-year-old who goes into debt retrieval called Z odzysku / Retrieval. His award cabinet showcases trophies from festivals in Bratislava, Saloniki and Koszalin. He was nominated to the Zbigniew Cybulski Award for his 2007 debut performance and his role as Robert in Maciej Pieprzyca's Splinters.
He has also played in the lens of Andrzej Wajda in Katyń and Michał Kwieciński in Tomorrow We Are Going to the Movies. Pawlicki graces silver screens across Poland in November 2013, in Joanna and Krzysztof Krauze's Papusza. In the docudrama based on the life of Bronisława Wajs, the first Roma poet to publish her poems, he plays Jerzy Ficowski who, after recognizing her great talent, encouraged her to write down her work then translated it into Polish.
Dawid Ogrodnik in Paweł Pawlikowski's "Ida", photo: Gdynia Film Festival
He was part of the Paktofonika team with Marcin Kowalczyk (see above), playing Rahim in Leszek Dawid's You Are God and received Best Supporting Actor 2012. But Dawid Ogrodnik's most memorable performance is in Maciej Pieprzyca's Life Feels Good where he plays out the true story of Mateusz, diagnosed in his early childhood with cerebral palsy, considered mentally disabled and kept in isolation. Following the festival premiere of Life Feels Good, acclaimed cinematographer Sławomir Idziak stated that if Pieprzyca’s film was American, Ogrodnik would be a sure candidate for the Oscar for Best Actor. Indeed, Ogrodnik’s role is already being compared to Daniel Day-Lewis’ Academy Award-winning work in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot.
Despite his young age he has already worked with renowned theatre directors Krystian Lupa, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Paweł Miśkiewicz and Maja Kleczewska. He gives another big-screen performance in Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida in October 2013.
Tomasz Schuchardt in Małgośka Szumowska's "In the Name Of", photo: press materials
The charismatic, mysterious Schuchardt is the last of the Paktofonika trio in Leszek Dawid's You Are God. The movie brought in over 1 million viewers and propelled Schuchardt, Kowalczyk and Ogrodnik to fame. Along with Ogrodnik, he received the Best Supporting Role Award at the 2012 Gdynia Film Festival. Two years earlier he was awarded Best Role at the same festival for his part in Marcin Wrona's The Christening.
Schuchardt also acts in theatre, working at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łodz. He has collected awards for his parts in Paweł Miśkiewicz's Dobry człowiek z Seczuanu, Natalia Sołtysik's Mewa and Małgorzata Bogajewska's Bramy raju. On the silver screen he has played in Piotr Mularuk's Polish neo-Western Yuma, Małgośka Szumowska's In the Name Of and the forthcoming City 44 by Jan Komasa and Karbali by Krzysztof Łukaszewicz.
Piotr Głowacki in Waldemar Krzystek's "80 Million", photo: KinoŚwiat
Behind his next-door neighbour looks he hides a lot of energy and manliness. He was first noticed in Waldemar Krzystek's 80 Million, the Polish 2013 Oscar Foreign Language Film candidate. where he plays one of the bad guys, Secret Service Captain Sobczak. The role brought him a nomination to the Zbigniew Cybulski Award and the Golden Duck 2012 award, the oldest Polish cinema prize, assigned by Film magazine.
He's been in 32 films so far: Agnieszka Holland's In Darkness, Jan Komasa's Suicide Room, Wojtek Smarzowski's Traffic Deparment and Bodo Kox's Girl From the Closet. And there is more to come, in particular Łukasz Barczyk's Hiszpanka.
Jakub Gierszał in Jacek Borcuch's "Lasting", photo: Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe
The Eastern European James Dean has an "unparalleled ability to draw you into a story", an awards jury said upon presenting the young actor with the Angela Award at the European Film Festival Subtitle in Kilkenny, Ireland. (The award honours breakthrough performances in Europe.) His lead performance in Jan Komasa's Internet sensation Suicide Room has also been lauded in Poland, where he received the Zbigniew Cybulski Award. He made his screen debut in 2009 as Kazik in Jacek Borcuch’s film All That I Love. Gierszał then appeared in Piotr Mularuk’s Yuma as Zyga, disillusioned after the fall of communism when the promised land never comes to his hometown, in another Borcuch movie, Lasting (Poland's Sundance representative), and in the play City of Dreams by Krystian Lupa.
The Polish Film Academy awarded Gierszał the Golden Eagle for Best Polish Actor in 2011, and he received a Golden Duck, the oldest Polish cinema prize, assigned by Film magazine. To top it off, the European Film Promotion organisation named him one of Europe’s Best Young Actors 2012, with the title Shooting Star 2012. "From the moment you see him, it is clear that Gierszał was born to be on the big screen", the jury commented. "Revealing a kaleidoscope of emotions, his ability to draw you into a story is unparalleled. He is touching, believable, sensitive - a pure and unique talent."
Coming soon to a Polish cinema near you, Gierszal will be in Maciej Sobieszczański and Łukasz Ronduda's Performer and in Łukasz Barczyk's Hiszpanka, as well as Frauke Finsterwalder's Finsterworld and John Jencks The Fold.
Still from Tomasz Wasilewski's "Floating Skyscrapers", photo: AnnaTomczyńska
He got noticed for his role of a promising young athlete who reluctantly discovers latent homosexual feelings in Tomasz Wasilewski's Floating Skyscrapers.
He graduated from the Warsaw Theatre Academy in 2011 and has already been awarded for theatre roles including his part in Bożena Suchocka's Stracone zachody miłości and Adam Sajnuk's Zaklęte rewiry.
Wojciech Zieliński in Marcin Wrona's "The Christening", photo: Best Film
Known and valued for his bad-boy roles, this promising actor received the Golden Lion award for Best Actor at the 2010 Gdynia Film Festival for his role in Marcin Wrona's The Christening.
He also performed in Tomasz Lewskowicz's Huśtawka, Ewa Stankiewicz's Don't Leave Me, Maciej Żak's Supermarket and Tadeusz Król's Last Floor.
Marcin Hycnar in Maciej Pieprzyca's "Splinters", photo: press materials
Swiftly moving from promising actor to first-time director after joining the National Theatre in Warsaw, in 2012 Hycnar directed Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House at Kraków's Juliusz Słowacki Theatre. His feature film debut came with a supporting role in Maciej Wojtyszek's Luiza's Garden.
He received a nomination to the Golden Duck Award for his role in Maciej Pieprzyca's comedy Splinters, "Do you love me?" the question in the trailer asks: "No", "No?" "Yea that's right". "So you do?" "No".
For those who don't recognise Hycnar's face yet (although his role in Andrzej Wajda's Wałęsa. Man of Hope may be of great help), you might already know his voice from the 42 films he dubbed.
Mateusz Kościukiewicz in Kordian Piwowarski's ""Baczyński", photo: www.armandurbaniak.pl/Artrama
Since taking on the lead in Jacek Borcuch's All That I Love, a film where he sings as the leader of a punk band, he can't seem to shake off the hooligan rebel roles. While Gierszal was already the Polish James Dean, Kościukiewicz has been dubbed the Polish Leonardo DiCaprio and the new Zbigniew Cybulski. He received the award named for the late actor, and Best Actor at the Karlovy Vary festival for his 2010 performance in Pawła Sala's Mother Theresa of Cats.
Before his big break on the big screen, Kościukiewicz played supporting parts in TV series and feature films (Andrzej Wajda's Sweet Rush, among others). His latest achievment is the role of Lukasz, a young man who falls in love with a priest in Małgośka Szumowska's In the Name Of. In an interview with Łukasz Maciejewski (Film No. 9/2010), he revealed his view on acting, fame and money,
I do not want to waste my life for sweet farting in the spotlights or a social self-love. I feel hungry for cinema but I am not under pressure to gain fame or money. I prefer crashing at my friends' place and go by bike rather than blacken my name right away in "Dancing with the Pussies". I am familiar with this process. First, it is all about an apartment, then a car. Costs you almost nothing. I will dance, sing (...) Two years pass - you appear in a TV series every day and discredit yourself as an actor. You do not develop yourself, do not invest in your professional career. Finally, you get used to it. That's it. Money loosens you up. I do not want to be loosened up, I want to fight - for reason.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, translated and edited by MJ 21.10.2013