Film director. Born on March 15, 1932 in Kraków.
In 1940 Jerzy Hoffman was deported to Siberia, he returned to Poland after the war. In 1955 he graduated in directing from Moscow's Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. In the same year he debuted as a director, completing two documentary films along with Edward Skórzewski.
Hoffman made his début in 1954, co-directing a documentary, Czy jesteś wśród nich? (Are You One of Them?) with Edward Skórzewski. This was the start of a collaboration which spanned a decade. By 1965, the two had already completed twenty-seven documentaries and three feature films. Both writers have made a significant contribution in the golden era of Polish documentary filmmaking, which coincided with the end of the 1950s and early 1960s. It was called as the 'Polish school of documentaries'. During this period the director described his own work thus:
For us, documentary film has become a school of Polish reality, and of course a workshop of life [...] documentary experience has taught us to pay attention to the realities, to pay attention to the details [...] to take care of everything which arouses the viewer's belief in the authenticity of the events shown to him.
- Film, 1975 No. 15.
The documentaries by Skórzewski and Hoffman won numerous awards including some in Oberhausen, Kraków, Venice, Moscow and Mannheim.
The team's feature film début was a satirical comedy called Gangsterzy i filantropi / Gangsters and Philantropists. After completing two more films, the two filmmakers parted ways after working together for over a decade.
Hoffman's first independent picture was made for the Ojciec TV station. His next film, Pan Wołodyjowski / Colonel Wołodyjowski, marked the beginning of a new era for the director – that of great film productions. The film was released in 1969. Janusz Zaremba wrote:
Hoffman has demonstrated a new side of his talent as a director of great adventure and historic- spectacle.
In his following films (Potop / The Deluge, Trędowata / Leper, Znachor / The Quack and others) Hoffman demonstrated his fondness for popular cinema, addressed to the widest demographic, but which often went beyond entertainment.
For years, Hoffman struggled to get funding for the film Ogiem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword, an adaptation of the third part of Henryk Sienkiewicz's Trilogy (the first published book). Filming began on October 13, 1997, based on the ninth version of the script. The film was released in 1999, gaining a widespread audience of millions in Poland and abroad. In 2003, Hoffman made the film Stara Baśń / An Ancient Tale based on a prose by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski.
I wanted the audience to appreciate the momentum, richness and clarity of vision of the film. I was particularly fascinated by the story, the director said about his work in an interview with Krzysztof Demidowicz.
- Film, 2000 No. 3.
In 2004, Hoffman started a (very modest) four-episode documentary Ukraine – the birth of the nation. Hoffman was among the first directors who decided to present such a wide-ranging historical scope. "'Ukraine' which I am working on", said Hoffman, "is a fascinating topic: the birth, development of a nation – from nativity to this day." ("Rzeczpospolita" 2006 No. 44). The director hoped that the film would be widely distributed especially in schools and universities, because for him this documentary was something of a history textbook.
Battle of Warsaw 1920
In 2011, Hoffman returned to filming once again, to create a spectacular tribute to an episode in Polish history. Battle of Warsaw 1920 (Bitwa warszawska 1920) is a story about the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920, filmed in the spirit of a war melodrama. It shows a story of a lancer (Borys Szyc) and a beautiful singer (Natasza Urbańska), who abandons the stage in order to defend the country. Battle of Warsaw 1920 is the first Polish film produced with the use of 3D technology. The cinematography in this film was created by Sławomir Idziak.
Awards and Distinctions
In 1959, he received the Gold Cross of Merit. In 1982, he received a diploma for his contribution in promoting Polish culture abroad (in 1981) by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1983 he was awarded the Officer's Cross of Polonia Restituta. From 1987 to 1989, he was a member of the Cinematography Committee. In 1988 he was given the honorary title of 'With Merit to the Polish Culture' by the State Council.
In 1999, at the 29th International Film Festival "Youth" in Kiev, he received an honorary award for his contribution to the development of world cinema. In the same year he was nominated for the Polish Film Award for lifetime achievement. Also in 1999 he was nominated for the Niptel 99 Media Award for the film Ogiem i mieczem. In the same year, he was awarded the Grand Cross of Polonia Restituta for outstanding contribution to Polish culture – for achievements in creativity and art. On February 12, 2004, Hoffman's star was unveiled on the Walk of Fame on ul. Piotrkowska in Łódź. In 2000 he received the Super Wiktor 99 for lifetime achievement.
In 2003, at the 28th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, the director was awarded an additional jury award for persistence and determination in creating great works of history. In 2005, he received the annual award of the Minister of Culture in the film category. Also in 2005 he was awarded the "Gloria Artis" Medal for Merit to Culture. In 2006 he received a special "Złote Spinki" at that year's "Telekamery" award ceremony. Also in 2006 he got the Polish Eagle Film Award in the Life Achievement category for 2005. In 2009 at the 34th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, he received the "Platinum Lions" for lifetime achievement.
For 17 years, Jerzy Hoffmann was the artistic director of the Zodiak film studio, and since 1997 he has been co-running his own company Zodiak Jerzy Hoffman Production.
In 1999 he published a book Hoffman: Chuligana żywot własny ( Hoffman: a Hooligan's Life of its Own) edited by Stanisław Zawiślański, Joanna Piątek and Waldemar Piątek.
- 1962 - Gangsterzy i filantropi / Gangsters and Philantropists, co-directed and co-written with Edward Skórzewski.Two comedic short stories. The protagonists of the first of these are gangsters who are planning to attack a vehicle on its daily trip to the local bank. In the second part, an unemployed lab technician is mistaken for a health inspector at a restaurant. The comedy was based on situational jokes and double entendres, clearly related to the realities of Polish reality of the early 1960s. Awards: 1963 – Award of the Minister of Culture and Art III degree for the direction and photography.
- 1964 - Prawo i pięść / The Law and the Fist, co-directed with Edward Skórzewski; based on a novel by Józef Hen; screenplay by Józef Hen. A fragment of the post-war reality in the western territories of Poland. The film was made in the convention of an American western.
- 1965 - Trzy kroki po ziemi (co-directed with Edward Skórzewski; based on news reports and interviews by weekly "Polityka" – short story I and II – Jerzy Janicki, III – co-written with Józef Kuśmierki and Edward Skórzewski). Three short stories about contemporary moral issues. Awards: 1965 – Second degree award from the Minister of Culture and the Arts.
- 1967 - Ojciec / The father, TV film; screenplay co-written with Ryszard Pietruski. An intimate story about a boy, who brings a cabman instead of his father to a parent-teacher meeting at school. A satire about parents who have no time for their children. Awards: 1967 – Grade III Award from the Minister of Culture and Arts, 1968 – "Golden Screen" (awarded by the magazine "Ekran").
- 1969 - Pan Wołodyjowski / Colonel Wołodyjowski, based on a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, screenplay co-written with Jerzy Lutowski. Based in the second half of the 17th century, this romantic tale with a backdrop of wars and dramatic events in the eastern borderlands of Poland. This high-budget production carefully conveyed the realities and climate of the novel. Awards: 1969 - Award of the Minister of Culture and Art, 1970 – "Golden Duck" (awarded by the magazine "Film") for best Polish film of 1969
- 1974 - Potop / The deluge, based on a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, screenplay co-written with Adam Kersten and Wojciech Żukrowski. The story of the the love between army man Andrzej Kmicic, and Olenka Billewiczówna during the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655-1660). The film is one of the largest productions in the history of Polish cinema. Awards: 1974 – Grand Prix at the Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk, 1975 – Award of the Minister of Culture and Art, Nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1974.
- 1976 - Trędowata / Leper, based on a novel by Helena Mniszkówna. A tale of the tragic romance between Waldemar Michorowski and Stefania Rudecka.
- 1978 - Do krwi ostatniej / To the Last Drop of Blood, screenplay by Zbigniew Safjan. A drama about the events of WWII (the creation of the Polish army, the battle of Lenino), which were essential for the thousands of Poles living in the East. Great politics and diplomacy were intertwined with the fate of ordinary people. The film consists of two parts. Awards: 1978 – First degree Award of the Minister of National Defence, 1979 – Special Jury Prize at the Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk.
- 1979 - Do krwi ostatniej – TV series.
- 1982 - Znachor / The Quack, based on a novel by Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz; screenplay co-written with Jacek Fuksiewicz. Part 1 – Antoni Kosiba; Part II – Maria Jolanta Wilczur. A story about an eminent surgeon, who has lost his memory and started practicing natural medicine in the countryside. The second adaptation of a popular pre-war prose by Dołęga-Mostowicz (the first was in 1937).
- 1983 - Wedle wyroków twoich / After Your Decrees, based on the works by Paul Hengge, Art Bernd, Bogdan Wojdowski; screenplay co-written with Jan Purzycki. War drama depicting the tragic fate of the thirteen Jewish women fighting for their life against the Nazi genocide machine.
- 1992 - Piękna nieznajoma / A Beautiful Stranger, based on a story by Aleksei Tolstoy; screenplay co-written with Yevgeni Zheleznyakov. The film is set in 1916, on a train from St. Petersburg to Stockholm. Lieutenant Obozów meets charming Ludmila. Each of them has to complete a secret mission.
- 1999 - Ogniem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword, based on a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. A screen adaptation of the first part of Sienkiewicz's Trilogy. The story is based in the seventeenth century during the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, wars and Khmelnytsky Uprising. A love triangle between a Polish knight Skrzetuski and a Cossack otaman Bohun, who fall in love with the same woman, is the central narrative point of the film. The was one of the most expensive film production sin Polish history. Awards: 1999 - Jury Award at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia; Diamond Ticket award by the “Kina Polskie” association for the film, which attracted the most viewers to the cinemas, an audience award at the Chicago Film festival; Award of the President of the Board at the Polish Television, 2000 "Golden Duck" (awarded by the magazine "Film") for best Polish film in 1999, First Prize at the International Slavic and Orthodox Film Festival in Moscow.
- 2000 - Ogniem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword – TV series.
- 2003 – Stara Baśń - kiedy słońce było bogiem / An Ancient Tale, based on a novel by Józef I. Kraszewski, screenplay co-written with Józef Hen) A story set in pagan times, during the formation of the first foundations of Polish statehood. The director described it as, "a film full of human passions: love, jealousy [and] power struggles."
- 2004 - Stara Baśń – TV series.
- 2011 - Bitwa Warszawska 1920 / Battle of Warsaw, 1920, director and screenwriter – in production. The fate of a young married couple – a theatre actress and a uhlan fall in love while the war of 1920. When the soldier goes to the front, the woman remains in Warsaw – they will be both witnesses and participants in history: he as a participant in the battle, which for 20 years decided the fate of Europe, and she will survive the most difficult days of the city, which is seeing an enemy army approaching. This is first Polish film made in 3D.
- 1954 - Czy jesteś wśród nich?
- 1955 - Uwaga chuligani!
- 1956 - Dzieci oskarżają; Jaś i Malgosia
- 1957 - Na drogach Armenii; Sopot 1957
- 1958 - Karuzela Łowicka; Pamiątka z Kalwarii; TOR
- 1959 - Gaudeamus; Typy na dziś
- 1960 - Dwa oblicza Boga; Dwa preludia; Pocztówki z Zakopanego; Reportaż prosto z patelni
- 1961 - Aby kwitło zycie
- 1962 - Hawana 61; Patria o muerte; Spotkali się w Hawanie
- 1963 - Visitez Zakopane
- 1964 - 1956-57 (11) w Chwila wspomnień
- 1966 - Jarmark Cudów
- 1970 - A najmilsze jest Mazowsze
- 2007 - Ukraina - narodziny narodu. Produced in Ukraine, this film is inspired by a book by former President Leonid Kuchma, “Ukraine is not Russia”. Work on the production (which started in 2004) took several years. The resulting four 50-minute episodes were translated in six languages.
TV Theatre (selection of works.):
- 1966 - Nasze nowe życie (written by: Jan Paweł Gawlik)
- 1966 - Szkoła miłości (written by: Pierre Marivaux)
- 1967 - Portret (written by: Jan Paweł Gawlik)
- 1967 - Starsza siostra (written by: Aleksander Wołodin)
- 1968 - Ojcowie (written by: Wadim Sobko)
- 1969 - Dług (written by: Jan Paweł Gawlik)
- 1970 - Śmierć Gubernatora (written by: Leon Kruczkowski)
In addition, Jerzy Hoffman wrote the screenplay for the documentary film "Kryptonim Oktan" / "Codename Oktan".
He also acted in feature films: Gangsterzy i filantropi (1963), Szczur (1995) and Stara Baśń (2003, as a teacher), and documentary films: Basia (1993, produced by Luiza Jesipowicz; a film about the daughter of Barbara Brylska), 2000 - Prawda przeciw prawdzie (produced by Janusz Kieszkiewicz; documentary about the film Ogniem i mieczem).
Written by: Halina Olczak-Moraczewska, August 2004, updated in September 2009, Filmography: October, 2010. Update: Anna Micińska, February 2014