Documentary film director and cameraman. Born in Zagórze Śląskie on November 3, 1950.
Documentary film director and cameraman. Born in Zagórze Śląskie on November 3, 1950...
Jacek Bławut is above all a documentary filmmaker, he also lectures at film schools in Berlin, Hannover, Toruń and works at the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Warsaw. Between 1992-1994 he co-published Film na Świecie magazine. Since 2003 he has been a member of the European Film Academy. He graduated from Cinematography at the National Film Television and Theatre School in Łódź in 1982. Before he began making films as a cinematographer and film director, as a child he starred in several feature films, debuting in 1960 as a ten-year-old boy in Marysia i krasnoludki (Mary and the Dwarfs), a film by Jerzy Szeski and Konrad Paradowski.
He has won a number of awards for his achievements in the field of cinematography and directing - among others, the Stanisław Wyspiański second class Award for Achievement in cinematography (1988), Laterna Magica Award for his cultural activity (1992), Paszport Polityki (Polityka's Passport Award) in Film category for the year of 1993 and the Wielki FeFe Award granted during FeFe Felliniada Film Festival in Warsaw (2006).
The director confessed in an interview with Tadeusz Szczepański:
All my colleagues chose to be involved in the film industry, they decide to be filmmakers, and in my case things happened the other way round, film simply chose me.
Refering to a link with films dating back in time as a child actor. Yet, Bławut didn't act, opting for cinematography instead. He graduated from the cinematography faculty and after some time he was known primarily as a cameraman for feature, educational and documentary films.
Since his 1984 Superciężki (Super Heavyweight), he has been the sole director of his documentary films. However, it was not until his famous feature-length film debut Nienormalni (The Abnormal) that audiences and film critics reviews earned him the reputation of a great filmmaker, with his own style and a character capable of narrating in his own unique way.
It is hard to affirm whether The Abnormal might be considered a documentary or a feature film, the director confessed in an interview with Jerzy Kapuściński, at the same time emphasising that he did not attach great importance to the genre aspect of the film (Kino 5/1991). The film was screened in cinemas and aroused relatively great interest for a non-fiction film – it was watched by over 800,000 people. Still, there is something in the director's nonchalance towards the genre aspect of the film. In an interview for World Film Bławut told Tadeusz Szczepański:
I'm not a documentary filmmaker. Because if I were a documentary filmmaker, then after ten minutes you'd wish you wouldn't have to watch it.
This remark is linked with his approach to the character. In the same interview, he confessed:
in American cinema, contrary to ours, film directors love their characters, and in Polish documentaries it almost always boils down to one thing: whom to critisise, ridicule or ignore.
In an interview with Irena Stanisławska, he stressed the fact that in his early films Cyrk Skalskiego (Skalski's Circus, 1986) and Byłem generałem Wehrmachtu (I was a General in Wermacht, 1988) he did not show the oppressors and the system itself as he was more interested in heroism and the fortitude of those whom he dedicated his films. And that only in Kostka cukru (Lump of Sugar) in which he narrates a story of the meaningless death of horses, '[that was] the one time that human beings became my purpose' (Film, 6/1997).
A similar, positive finding was for him the hero of Super Heavyweight, Adam Sandurski, weighing 140 , a giant wrestler of a dove heart. Łukasz Maciejewski wrote that Bławut was not attracted to evil, going on to say
He believes in good. Predominantly in the good which is not so obvious. He depicts characters who at first glance we tend to perceive as evil. The dipsomaniac turns into an exquisite story-teller, the criminal fulfills himself in community work with children, and a famous, seriously ill fighter again achieves his triumph after many long years of oblivion.
Asked by Tadeusz Szyma on why he searches for unusual characters whose very appearance may be 'associated with wrong stereotypes of present-day media', the director answered:
I don't mean preying on human sensibility that was successfully eradicated [...] by television [...]. What I mean is again seizing the viewer who once existed. This is the reason why I have been leading a private war against restrictions, documentary stereotypes, and struggling both with the natural straightjacket of the genre and deformations that were imposed on it by trends or quest for TV viewing figures.
Tadeusz Szyma believes that as opposed to other documentary filmmakers who 'utilise the subject matter that became fashionable in recent years fairly superficially […] Bławut does it with such a degree of unaffectedness with such normality. Thus, the film does not arouse resistance or fear, the desire to escape or repulsion'.
In Szyma's view, 'there is no false sentimentalism or tiresome observation on a purely behavioral level in Bławut approach. There is no way to discern even a shadow of an inclination to shock with something outrageous, unusual, drastic, and brightly deviating from the standard norm'.
It all stems from the attitude he held toward his characters. Bławut is personally involved in the lives of his film heroes, he tries to experience their lives, lives on their problems and he wants to be perceived as one of them. In the aforementioned interview of Tadeusz Szyma he talked about the realization of a documentary series Ja alkoholik (I, the Alcoholic, 2003): 'For them I was Jacek who was with them and definitely not just a filmmaker. I don't just film, I'm with them – I care about their issues in the same way they care about mine [and those of] my whole family'.
After the character's death in Szczur w koronie (A Rat in a Crown, 2005) Bławut said: 'I couldn't believe that I had lost this battle. I asked myself how it is possible that one can help another human being? Oh, well, I still believe that I would have won and would have given him a helping hand if only he hadn't die then, if only I had more time'.
According to Tadeusz Sobolewski, viewers of the film are involved with the character's rescue. There are few films in which 'the media barrier would be that greatly leveled. He calls Szczur w koronie the film about a friendship between a filmmaker and a young alcoholic'.
One needs to devote a few sentences to the heroes of Bławut's most prominent films: Handicapped people: Special Olympic, 1996; The Abnormal, Paweł, 1998); dipsomaniacs: I, Alcoholic, A Rat in a Crown; criminals Born Dead, 2004), The Country of Birth (2002); and unemployed Polish teachers. In an interview with Tadeusz Szym he talks about the characters of his 2004 film Born Dead:
Whenever I meet similar people, I still discover something that enriches me greatly, something that gives me a variety of marvelous experiences, offers me so much wisdom that I wish to share it with others.
In a conversation devoted to The Abnormal, he employed similar arguments:
Yet people who sometimes appear to us as being devoid of thoughts and experiences but in fact, they have so much wit, feelings, warmth and love! All this is in every one of us, but has a far more pure and sincere dimension [...] within them. They are endowed with some nobility in feelings that they express in touch, in a hug and in sorrow.
Bławut even calls Born Dead – a film about the relationship between a recidivist and a sick boy – a film about touch: 'The way they touch each others lives and what it brings'.
There are films in Jacek Bławut's portfolio that have gained recognition among festival jurors and spectators alike. Alas there are also near misses. In the interview with Tadeusz Szczepański, Bławut said that he had filled every role in the film industry, but now he knew that he would never be an actor, cameraman assistant, documentary cameraman, or documentary film director:
There's some film on the horizon for me, but I don't know if it will be the last one, from which I'm escaping'.
In 2012 Bławut completed his next documentary film Wirtualna wojna (Men at War). The feature-length film made for Polish HBO depicts men fascinated by the history of World War II and passionate about duels fought on computer simulators. The equipment allows them to immerse in roles of fighter aircraft pilots from the WWII. For some of them the innocent hobby becomes an important part of life, and friends in the virtual world replace their real friends. The film features players from the United States, Poland, Germany and Russia. We enter their world to understand who they are, what they are looking for in life and the reasons of their interest in history. The documentary, filmed on a grand scale, received the Eagle award for the best Polish documentary in 2013.
In 2008, as already recognized camera man and documentary filmmaker, Jacek Bławut made his directorial feature debut. Jeszcze nie wieczór (Before Twilight) is a cheerful and warm story about the House of Veteran Actors pension house in Skolimów near Warsaw and the people living there – former theater and cinema stars. Jan Nowicki plays an old actor who is to enliven the inmates by participation in an entertaining venture, i.e. staging Goethe's Faust in the custody house in Toruń. Initially, Leon Niemczyk was to play the role, but he subsequently passed away. The film that was to bear the title of Lili depicts a story of love, passing time, and old age of great people.
After the film's screening at the festival in Gdynia, Maria Malatyńska wrote:
Surprise, unconventionality and extraordinariness of experiences? It's all brought together in Jacek Bławut's daring film. A film about aged actors from Skolimów. [...] The story of how these extraordinary artists, the real people of the old theater (those who know what is acting, but have no idea that in our day it is defined as an amateur manduering of characters in TV series), prepare and stage ... 'Faust', that captivates with the warmth and wisdom. [...] 'Jeszcze nie wieczór' is a beautiful tribute to actors, art, tradition and memory, according to me the most original film of the festival.
The following feature film directed by Jacek Bławut is Orzeł. Ostatni patrol (Eagle. The Last Patrol). It tells a story of the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł which went missing while on patrol in the North Sea in first days of June 1940. Filming commences in 2016.
Features – as actor:
- 1960 - Marysia i krasnoludki, dir. Jerzy Szeski and Konrad Paradowski.
- 1962 - Nad rzeką, dir. Janusz Kubik.
- 1965 - Agnieszka 46, dir. Sylwester Chęciński.
- 1964 - Echo, dir. Stanisław Różewicz.
Also participated in film dubbing.
Features - cinematography:
- 1986 – Życie wewnętrzne (Inner Life), dir. Marek Koterski.
- 1987 – Łuk Erosa (Cupid's Bow), dir. Jerzy Domaradzki.
- 1988 – The Decalogue X, dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski.
- 1989 – Porno, dir. Marek Koterski.
- 1992 – Nocne ptaki (Night Birds), dir. Andrzej Domalik.
- 1996 – Kratka, dir. Paweł Łoziński.
- 1997 - Łóżko Wierszynina, dir. Andrzej Domalik.
- 2000 - Twarze i maski, dir. Feliks Falk, TV series.
- 2002 - Dzień świra (Day of the Wacko), dir. Marek Koterski.
Features - directing:
2008 – Jeszcze nie wieczór (Before Twilight), screenplay in cooperation with Stanisław Józefowicz and Jacek Piotr Bławut. Awards:Polish Film Festival, Gdynia - Silver Lion (Srebrne Lwy) Prize and a Golden Kangaroo (Złoty Kangur) Prize – an Australian distributors' award.
Documentaries - cinematography:
- 1977 - U progu przemian (On the verge of change), dir. Witold Żukowski, cinematography in cooperation with Witold Żuk-Żukowski.
- 1978 - Do artystów. Grupa Krakowska 1932-1937 (For artists. Kraków Group 1932-1937), dir. Kazimierz Mucha, cinematography in cooperation with Kazimierz Mucha.
- 1978 - Kossakowskie lata (Kossak's years), dir. Kazimierz Mucha, cinematography in cooperation with Kazimierz Mucha.
- 1979 - Plakat dla dziecka (Poster for a child), dir. Kazimierz Mucha, cinematography in cooperation with Kazimierz Mucha.
- 1980 - Niepokoje Wacława Kondka (Wacław Kondek's Concerns), dir. Kazimierz Mucha, cinematography in cooperation with Kazimierz Mucha.
- 1982 - Karlino, dir. Andrzej Niewiadomski.
- 1982 - Kościoły drewniane (Wooden churches), dir. Andrzej Niewiadomski.
- 1982 - Przyczyny narkomanii (The Causes of Drug Addiction), dir. Marek Koterski.
- 1984 - Bliskie spotkania (Close Encounters), dir. Stanisław Suchoń.
- 1984 - Nasz dom prawie rodzinny (Our Almost Familial House), dir. Zygmunt Skonieczny.
- 1984 - Oskar Kolberg, dir. Andrzej Niewiadomski.
- 1984 - Polski bohater współczesny (Polish Contemporary Hero), dir. Marek Koterski.
- 1985 - Kapliczki (The Wayside Shrines), dir. Andrzej Niewiadomski.
- 1986 - Pieśń wojenna (A Song of War), dir. Marek Koterski.
- 1987 - Teatr grecki (Greek Theater), dir. Andrzej Niewiadomski.
- 1991 - Le Corbusier, dir. Grzegorz Tomczak.
- 1992 - Aterkomster, dir. Joanna Helander, Bo Persson, cinematography in collaboration with Jacek Petrycki and Krzysztof Pakulski.
- 1992 - Teater Attonde Dagen (The Theatre of the Eight Day, dir. Joanna Helander, Bo Persson, cinematography in collaboration with Jacek Petrycki
- 1992 - Tvillingarna Fran Kraków
- 1997 - Japania, dir. Paweł Łoziński.
- 1998 - Karussel, Belgium.
- 1998 – Papież Jan Paweł II na Kubie (Jan Paul II in Cuba), also the producer, dir. Grzegorz Tomczak, cinematography in collaboration with Krzysztof Ciołkowski, Poland, France.
- 1999 - Directing: Yves Goulais, dir. Krzysztof Lang.
- 1999 - Twarzą w twarz z papieżem (Face to Face with the Pope), dir. Grzegorz Tomczak.
- 2000 - Jan Paweł II w Ziemi Świętej (John Paul II in the Holy Land), dir. Grzegorz Tomczak.
- 2001 - Droga, Prawda, Życie (The Road, the Truth, the Life), dir. Kinga Dębska, cinematography in cooperation with Krzysztof Kowalski.
- 2004 - Między drzwiami (Between the Doors, dir. Paweł Łoziński.
- 2006 - Wygnańcy (The Exiles), dir. Paweł Łoziński.
- 2007 - A gdyby tak się nie stało? dir. Marcel Łozińśki.
- 2011-2014 - Santo Subito, dir. Grzegorz Tomczak.
Documentaries - directing:
1984 - Superciężki (Super Heavyweight), screenplay and cinematography.Portrait of heavyweight wrestler Adam Sandurski. At first Marek Koterski was to direct the film, but resigned. Awards: 1984 - Sports Film Festival, Tarnów, SFP Youth Circle Award, Sztandar Młodych Editor's Award
1984 – Widok (A View), screenplay andcinematography. An environmental film about a mine recultivation in Belchatów, which forces to reflect on life continuity and the devastation of the environment by man. Awards: 1985 - 11 International Scientific Film Festival, Katowice, Grand Prix,3rd National Review of Nature Films of Włodzimierz Puchalski, Łódź, the main prize; 1987 – the 38th World ISFA Congress, Leningrad, honorary diploma.
1985 – Ślizgiem do nieba (Sliding to Heaven),screenplay, cinematographywith Jacek Śliwa and Janusz Czecz. Portrait of an athlete, Waldemar Marszałek.
1986 – Cyrk Skalskiego (Skaliski's circus), screenplay, cinematographywith Jacek Śliwka and Lech Szybiło. Portrait of Stanislaw Skalski, commander of the 303 Squadron during World War II, a famous fighter pilot.
1987 – Kostka cukru (Lump of Sugar), screenplay. Shocking fate of horses participating in the Wielka Pardubicka race. Awards: 1987 - The National Short Film Festival, Kraków, "Brązowy Lajkonik" Prize 1988 - International Short Film Festival, Kraków, Brązowy Lajkonik Prize (the prize for best documentary).
1986 – Monastyr (A Monastery),screenplay and cinematography. Eleventh-century monastery of Baczkowski in Bulgaria. Awards:1987 - The prize of the Chairman of Cinematography Committee in the documentary category.
1988 - Byłem generałem Wehrmachtu (I Was a General in the Wermacht),screenplay. A biographical film about Kazimierz Leśko.
1988 – Zaduma (Daydream) A beautiful mare Zaduma and her guardian Leon Chatizow, an officer at Gen. Kleberg's squadron.
1989 - An Auschwitz love story, feature-lengthfilm, directed together with Michał Żarnecki, screenplay written in cooperation with Józef Czarnecki, Michal Żarnecki, also the film producer.
1990 – Nienormalni (The Abnormal), the screenplay and production; full-length drama documentary. The Centre for people with intellectual disabilities in Kozice Dolne. Handicapped children learn how to play musical instruments. Awards: 1990 – 15th Polish Film Festival, Gdynia, Special Award, 1991 – 21. Film Summer, Łagów, "Don Quixote" PF DKF prize; nomination for the European Film Award "Felix"; 26th Young Cinema Check, Frankfurt, the prize; 2nd Media Festival "Man in Danger", Łódź, Grand Prix, "Biała Kobra" (White Cobra); 40th International Film Festival in Mannheim, FIPRESCI Prize, Von Sternberg Prize; International Film Festival, San Sebastian, Special Jury Mention; Swiebodzin, A Prize of Fan-club "Samowar"; Film Festival, Tarnów, the prize for the best Polish Film and Audience Award, 1993 - International Catholic Film Festival, Niepokalanów, the first prize in the category of feature film; 2003 - European Integrating Film Festival "You and I", Kołobrzeg, the Chairman of Polish Television special Award; 2005 - "Vitae Valor" Film Festival, Tarnów, artistic award.
1991 - ...und Dann mussten wir Noch Watschwiren, full-length feature, including cinematography,FRG production.
1993 - Die Reise nach Tunesien, feature, cinematography by Jerzy Rudziński, FRG production. Schizophrenics on a trip to Tunisia.
1995 – Rogate dusze, feature-lenght, cinematography with Hans Jurgen Muller, Klaus Henrich and Jerzy Rudziński. A Pole, Foreign Legion soldier, now a cripple after serving in Sarajevo.
1996 – Miałem przyjaciela (I Had a Friend). Awards: 1996 – 7th Media Festival "Man in Danger", Łódź, the main prize; a Prize of The GDR League for friendship between nations – Special Mention of Nordrhein-Westfalen Ministry of Education and Sport, International Film Festival,Toronto, Grand Prix.
1996 – Olimpiada specjalna (Special Olympics), cinematography with Jerzy Rudziński, FRG production. Olympics including disabled people. Awards: 1996 - International Catholic Film Festival, Niepokalanów, Grand Prix, 2003 – The European Integrating Film Festival 'You and I', Kołobrzeg, the Chairman of Polish Television special Award.
1997 - Ein anderes Haus (Another Home), cinematography, FRG production. Three nursing homes –for millionaires, ordinary people and the poorest.
1998 - Paweł, screenplay and cinematography. Mentally disabled athlete and his life achievements. Awards: 2003 - The "You and I" European Integration Film Festival, Kołobrzeg, the Chairman of Polish Television special Award.
2000 – Kawaleria powietrzna (The Air Calvary), documentary series, directed by Wojciech Maciejewski, written with Jacek Indelak and Wojciech Maciejewski, cinematography by Marcin Figurski, Mirosław Kuba Brożkek and Piotr Szczepański, documentary series. 25th Air Cavalry Brigade, commonly known as Parachute Troops. Awards: 2000 - A prize of Polish TV Production NIPTEL in the documentary film category, along with Wojciech Maciejewski.
2001 - Dzień weselny. Sylwia i Grzegorz (Wedding day: Sylwia and Grzegorz), screenplay in cooperationwith Katarzyna Szałańska and Mikołaj Malinowski, cinematography in cooperation with Paweł Figurski, Jacek Piotr Bławut and Mikołaj Malinowski. The first of two films about a young couple and their wedding ceremony. AnOrthodox wedding of Sylwia and Grzegorz from Białystok.
2002 – Ach, jak przyjemnie! (Oh, How Wonderful!), documentary soap opera, written with Mateusz Dzieduszycki, cinematography in cooperation with Jerzy Rudziński, Jacek Szatański, Jacek Piotr Bławut.A group of young people on the sailing course.
2002 - Dzień weselny. Kasia i Wojtek (Wedding day:Kasia and Wojtek), screenplay in cooperation with Katarzyna Szałańska and Mikołaj Malinowski, cinematography with Piotr Figurski, Mikołaj Malinowski and Jacek Piotr Bławut. The second of the films depicting the wedding customs. This time it's the highland wedding.
2002 - Kraj urodzenia... (The Country of Birth) (part of the 'Our general census' film cycle), also editing, screenplay and cinematography. Including editing, screenplay, cinematography. One of the series of four films realized during the National Census in Poland in 2002. In order to earn money for a much-needed renovation at home, Radek, an unemployed census representative, asks questions to ordinary people who just like him struggle with life problems and material needs.
Awards: 2003 - Felix Nomination for Best Documentary Film, the European Film Award, Kraków International Film Festival, National Competition, Kraków, Grand Prix Złoty Lajkonik Prize, Kodak Award, International Short Film Festival, Kraków, Prix UIP Award Kraków.
2003 – Ja alkoholik (I, Alcoholic), also screenplay and film production, documentary series. The problem of alcoholism and the process of overcoming alcohol addiction.
2004 - Born Dead, feature-length film, screenplay, and production, photographyin cooperation with Bartosz Cichoński and Tomasz Wolski. The story of a prisoner working with handicapped children. Changes that take place within him through hiscontact with the sick and helpless. Awards: 2004 - International Documentary Film Festival, Kanton, special prize, European Integrating Film Festival You and I, Grand Prix for the best documentary, Kraków Film Festival, National Competition, Kraków, Brązowy Lajkonik special prize, Federation of Film Discussion Clubs FICC special prize; Media Festival Man in Danger, Łódź, prize of Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Łódź, International Film, Music and Art Festival "The Summer with Muses".
2005 - Eres z Ałtaju (Eres from Altai), also film production and co-directing with Jacek Piotr Bławut. The story of a 11-year-old Eres living in a lost village in the Altai Krai.
2005 – Kamienie (Stones), also film production, cinematography in cooperation with Jacek Piotr Bławut. The Passion of Christ performed by the homeless from St. Albert's Shelter, the disabled and people with alcohol dependence.
2005 – Szczur w koronie (A Rat in a Crown), editing and production, feature-length film. The story of an alcoholic Michał and his unsuccessful struggle with addiction.
Awards: 2005 - Kraków Film Festival - National Competition, Kraków, Award by the President of the Association of Polish Filmmakers, Film Summer, Łagów, Grono an award of Polish-German Co-operation Foundation for the best Polish non-feature film.
2007 – 38 tysięcy stóp nad ziemią (38,000 Feet Above Ground), also screenplay.
2007 - Niezwykły lot Boeinga 737 (Extraordinary flight of Boeing 737) (its working title was Lot005) - a film about passion for aviation and flying.
2007 - Wojownik (Warrior) feature, the screenplay, cinematography, editing. The success, rise and fall of the famous kick-boxer Marek Piotrowski. Awards: 2007 - Kraków Film Festival – feature-length documentary contest, Kraków, Honourable diploma and Audience Award.
2010 - Ostatni raz kawaler (End of Bachelor Days) screenplay and cinematography, a film about wedding where influences of the traditional province ocollide with urban modernity.
2012 - Wirtualna Wojna (Man at War) (screenplay, cinematography, production, editing) a story about men fascinated by World War II and pursuing their passion using the latest technology.
2012 - Samotność dźwięku (The Solitude of Sound) (also cinematography and artistic direction) a film about a composer Tomasz Sikorski.
Jacek Bławutwas also the cinematographer for the Television Theatre performance Oscar and Mrs. Rose by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, directed by Marek Piwowski (2005), as well as the producer of several documentaries.
Author: Jan Strękowski, April 2006; Translated by Roberto Galea, updated May 2016, GS