The filmmaker, inventor and composer Julian Antoniszczak made 36 films, including animated and experimental pieces. His works are characterised by the "non-camera films" technique, with which he explored transience and fallibility by doing away with the camera in favour of applying animations directly onto film
Julian Józef Antoniszczak on the set of Antonii Bohdziewicz's Dziewczyna z dobrego domu, photo by Krzysztof Malkiewicz / Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
Fascinated by kinetic toys, optical machines and the variety of effects attained by experimenting with film tape, Antonisz strove to uncover the roots of cinema and created his own devices for producing films using a non-camera technique. Many of his findings were published in his 1977 Artistic Non-Camera Manifesto. In formulating his vision for producing works directly on film tape, he surmised that "Only films made with the Non Camera technique can be called authentic works of visual, painting, graphic and musical art". Among his main priorities was the visual effects and authenticity of his practice, and above all its effect on the viewer, while reducing the time and machinery required.
After receiving a musical background as a high school student, he studied in the Painting and Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. After graduating he started making independent films that he directed and animated, composing his own music and engineering the sound - all using equipment of his own devising. He received awards and film at home and abroad.
In 1968 he cofounded the Kraków branch of the Studio of Film Miniatures, which six years later became the legendary Animated Film Studio. The themes of his films are full of thoughtful reflection and humour. The combination of raw animation and dynamic colours gave them an original aesthetic expression. Sun was the first film fully produced without a camera, applying drawings directly to film tape using the "pantograf-animograf". The motion effects of the device created the impression of pulsating rays of sunshine. At the premiere of the film, the artist presented his manifesto, which also encouraged other artists and non-artists to to create their own non-camera works and inventions.
Julian Józef Antoniszczak - he came to be known simply as Antonisz - was born in 1941 and died 1987. He was the older brother of animated film director and writer Ryszard Antonius Antoniszczak. After graduating from a music high school, he studied physics at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków for 2 years. In 1965 he studied painting and graphics in Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts. He attended the Drawing Film Studio under the direction of Kazimierz Urbański, the renowned director of animated films. In 1968, he, Urbański and several colleagues cofounded the Miniature Film Studio in Warsaw, re-named six years later the Animated Film Studio.
He made his debut as a director in 1967. From 1977 onwards, he solely made non-camera films. His films were awarded during national and international festivals, including the Golden Hobby-Horse in 1980 in Kraków for his film Ostry film zaangażowany / A Highly Committed Film and the Grand Prix Festival in Oberhausen in 1984 for Polish Non Camera Chronicle No. 6.
He is a creator of film animation who is difficult to confuse with any other filmmaker from the genre. Vibrating, pulsating, full of motion and the ineptitude of some plasticity that hides the fact that it is intended, his films teem with an ingenious, surprising, absurd, and illogical sense. They are grotesque and ripe with satirical commentary, full of rough sounds as the narrations are rough, read mostly by amateurs, full of mistakes and language screw-ups. Antonisz's films, more than 20 years since the director's death - and about the same period since the fall of the communist regime - still arouse great audience interest. It is an audience that includes young viewers who may never have heard of the filmmaker, who makes the realities of communist Poland seem like a fairy tale.
The popularity of Antonisz's art was indicated at the summer festival Era New Horizons in 2007, when a review dedicated to the art of the director enjoyed the highest viewer interest. This was not the first show which was warmly greeted by audiences. At the 3rd Etiuda International Film Festival in Kraków in 2006, profile retrospectives presented acclaimed filmmakers such as Marcel Łoziński and Jan Svankmayer, and it was Antonisz who received the most recognition. Jerzy Armata noted (Video Club 12/1996) during the screening there were whispers such as "This Antonisz is a cult artist, a pure buzz".
He belonged to the artists concentrated around Kazimierz Urbański - with his colleagues who made their debuts in the late 1960s and 70s, it was referred to as the Urbański School. Jan Janik, Ryszard Czekała, Jerzy Kucia, Krzysztof Raynoch, Andrzej Warchał and Krzysztof Kiwerski were among the group members, as was Ryszard Antoniszczak - Julian Antonisz's younger brother.
Marcin Giżycki, in his book (Not Just Disney. The thing about animated film, Warsaw 2000), believes that the most important phenomenon in the Polish animated film around 1970 was the emergence of a group of young filmmakers associated with the Kraków branch of the Warsaw Miniature Film Studio, founded in 1968 and later the independent Animated Film Studio. Giżycki writes,
Their films, characterised by easily recognisable visual features, allowing to categorise the work almost at first glance, if not to a particular author, then at least to the studio in which it arose.
Kazimierz Urbański rejected traditional techniques and materials, mixing and combining with photo-cutting and drawings of actors, as well as the effects obtained by filming a chemical reaction. However, the most consistent person in the use of these techniques was Julian Antonisz. Starting with his debut film, Fobia / Phobia (1967), created in part without the use of a camera. He said about the technique he used in his debut, "I scratched the film, painted it, even burned it"(in conversation with Bogdan Zagroba, Film 32/1977).
He used this technique in parallel with many others (actors, drawing, paper-cutting) in subsequent films - including Jak to się dzieje (1970), Jak nauka wyszła z lasu (1970), Jak działa jamniczek (1971) - then began making films without the use of a camera from 1977. Using diverse, elaborate methods, beginning with scratching the film - in some films, Antonisz also scratched out sound, such as Ludzie więdną jak liście (1978) and Co widzimy po zamknięciu oczu i zatkaniu sobie uszu (1978) - to techniques including lubricating film using shoe polish, making stamps using graphical methods, painting, writing with a marker, ink and burning. This was all done in his home studio, using equipment that was at hand (a sewing machine, the coffee grinder) to come up with his own ideas, according to a formula known during the communist era as "do it yourself".
Several dozen films were composed this way, including 12 installments of the Polish Non-Camera Chronicle (1981-86), films that will remain permanently in the heritage of Polish animation.
Andrzej Urbański (Polish Film Animation 1945-1974, Warsaw 1977) wrote about the work of Kazimierz Urbański,
The starting point is the material, technique and workshop; the dramatic content and the topic is only matched to specific formal means.
This cannot be said about the work of Antonisz, who considered the formal and thematic layers of film equal. That which appears to be for formal fun or a prank always carries a goal, due not only to the nature of the film material but also to the matter of reality of which he speaks in his work. In an interview with Bogdan Zagroba, he said,
Technique, to me is a kind of art. It gives me an almost aesthetic experience. [...] Man is the most advanced machine, an example of both mechanics and technology.
As Armata wrote (Video Club 12/96):
Non-camera for Antonisz was not a goal in itself, but rather a means to achieve other important objectives. It's not fun in the cinema, an experiment, but real cinema, trying to provide, with just this extremely difficult method, specific, often complex and important content.
Giżycki wrote similarly,
Antonisz learned to take interest in unusual materials and experiments from Urbański [...] but created his own world populated with characters spilling over, pulsating shapes, moving among the real cogs, screws and other waste from the technical "garbage" [...] There is as much reminiscence of pop art in these films, as the comic distance towards it (Office Art Movie, 1975).
And he summarised,
Activities of the prematurely deceased, extremely versatile artist, not only an artist and filmmaker, but also musician and the inventor, demonstrated (which previously probably only Witold Giersz had done) that the traditional divisions of movies for adults, children and experimentation (in other words, according to popular opinion, for no one) do not need to apply.
Jerzy Armata (Film 25/1988) separated Józef Antonisz films into three groups. The first group included educational films for children: Jak to sie dzieje (1970), Jak działa jamniczek (1971) and Bajeczka międzyplanetarna / The Interplanetary Tale (1976). Films from this group, as quoted by Armata
served with a large dose of humour (...) they stimulate children's imagination, sensitivity and intelligence, proposing a new form of animated film for the youngest.
The second group included works with films using various techniques, saturated with absurd spoof humour of species, genres, or fashions prevailing film in the film industry. Educational spoof films usually administered in the form of pseudo-scholarly lectures: ...Te wspaniałe bąbelki w tych pulsujących limfocytach / Marvellous Bubbles In the Throbbing Lymphocytes (1973), or Kilka praktycznych sposobów na przedłużenie sobie życia / Practical Advice on how to Prolong Your Life (1974). Films about art include Film o sztuce biurowej / Office Art Movie (1976) and Dokument animowany non-camera czyli reżyser Krzysztof Gradowski o sobie / Non camera animated documentary, thus, director Krzysztof Gradowski about himself (1980). Horror films include Horror Film (1976), erotic films include W szponach seksu (1969) and the film chronicles are Polish Non Camera Chronicles 1-12.
This last series is at the same time, according to Armata, the third group, most likely the most important group of films made by Antonisz. He calls them his "ownly" animated documents. In addition to the series chronicles, he mentioned here Ludzie więdną jak liście / People Wither Like Leaves (1978), Dziadowski blues non camera, czyli nogami do przodu / Beggar's Blues Non Camera or the Bucket Kicked (1978), Ostry film zaangażowany (1979). It may be worth adding Dodatkowe wole trawienne magistra Kizioła / Additional Digestive Goitre of Magister Kizioł (1983), Czyżby wolny rynek w organizmie biologicznym / Would It Be Free Trade in a Biological Organism? (1984) or Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, czyli non-camerowy reportaż po Republice Federalnej Niemiec / Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, a non camera report on the Federal Republic of Germany (1985). It is in this group of films primarily, that the image of a paranoid communist world appears, a world in which the artist lived.
One more group could be added. Movies about the insignificance of human life, such as Słońce - film bez kamery / The Sun - A Non-Camera Film (1977), Katastrofa / Catatrophy (1977), Ludzie więdną jak liście (1978) or one of his last films Światło w tunelu / Light at the End of the Tunnel (1986), which added drama before the death of the filmmaker.
Antonisz was aware of what are non camera produced in his seemingly messy, irregular, lopsided, and often quite unsightly films. To better reflect the rough reality of the communist regime, the narration in his films was read by a grandmother named Jaskólska, a cleaning lady at the Animation Film Studio, its director, Andrzej Olszański, or, as in the movie Jak działa jamniczek, by a 90-year-old nursing home resident. The image played a similar role in his films. Jerzy Armata wrote (Film, 25/1988) that Antonisz said, "A non camera pulsating land is the only antidote to the paranoid reality existing alongside".
He passed away on the 31st of January 1987 in Lubien near Myślenice.
- 1967 - Fobia combination film, done without the use of the camera, then the material was transferred to film. A grotesque story of a painter who wants to paint something but everything seems to interfere. A typical artist, who, by all means is looking for inspiration - "I am a painter, everything bores me, unless I make a scandal!".
- 1969 - W szponach seksu / In the Grips of Sex (including music) combined, actor-animated. Upon notice of a women looking for a partner, who wants to fall in a colourful love, many amateurs respond. She rejects all of them and chooses the well-known singer Mieczyslaw Święcicki. (Awards: 1969 - 2 Nationwide Polish Film Festival for Children, Tours).
- 1970 - Jak nauka wyszła z lasu / Out of the Woods including music combined cut-out, acting, in part non camera. For children. A humorous story about the origin of a book. Awards: 1971 - 2 National Film Festival for Children, Poznan, Golden Goats.
- 1970 - Jak to się dzieje... / As It Happens... including music combined partly with the use of non camera technology. For children. An entertaining lecture on how a television works. On the basis of his own text, How is it, asks Agnisia that on screen we see a teddy bear.
- 1971 - Jak działa jamniczek / How a Sausage Dog Works including music combined partly in non camera technique. Entertaining lecture on the construction of a living dachshund, showing other organisms, the superiority of the most technically advanced mechanisms. A pseudo-parody of the lecture method. "We do not destroy dachshund, let's not destroy the Elektrokapuściochy", urges the artist. Awards: 1972 - 21th International Film Festival, Mannheim, award of the International Ecumenical Film Centre, the International Evangelical Prize; 12th Nationwide Polish Short Film Festival, Kraków, Brown Hobby-Horse, 1. OPF Man and His Environment, Katowice, Silver Phoenix.
- 1972 - Tysiąc jeden drobiazgów / Thousand and One Trifles including music, cut-out. About an artist unsuccessfully seeking support for his art in the surrounding reality.
- 1973 - Strachy na lachy / Polish Frights, combined puppet. Humorous origins of the Slavic nations.
- 1973 - ... Te wspaniałe bąbelki w tych pulsujących limfocytach / ... The Marvellous Bubbles In the Throbbing Lymphocytes including music combined actor - animated, with elements of non camera art, thermo-chemical action on the film. Satirical warning against the dire consequences of smoking tobacco in the form of a pseudo-lecture by singer Mieczysław Świecicki.
- 1974 - Kilka praktycznych sposobów na przedłużenie sobie życia / Practical Advice on How to Prolong Your Life including music, combined actor-animated. A humorous parable about aging and methods to delay it. Antonisz with A. Kossakowski said, "This is a movie for adults, explaining in a scientific and silly manner the question bothering humanity for generations: why does time pass slowly for a baby, and when man becomes an old, it goes buy quickly, and before you know it, evening has already fallen? With the participation of Kazimierz Opaliński and Grzegorz Kwinta.
- 1975 - Bajeczka międzyplanetarna / The Interplanetary Tale including music. For children. A humorous and educational story about the adventures of a little girl in the universe, surrounded by planets such as Planet of the Matołków Goats.
- 1975 - Film o sztuce... (biurowej) / (Office) Art Movie including music combined an actor-animated, partly in the non camera convention. A surreal burlesque on bureaucracy in the form of a pseudo-scientific lecture.
- 1976 - Film grozy / Horror Film including music combined partly with non camera technique. Spoof of horror films, where we listen to a lecture about the fear of involving vampires, werewolves and a witch, and learn about unconventional methods of the dentist Zenk's work.
- 1977 - Słońce - film bez kamery / The Sun: A Non-Camera Film including music. Antonisz's first complete non camera film using woodcut technique implemented immediately on the film. A story about human life in the face of the infinite eternal universe.
- 1977 - Katastrofa / Catastrophe including music. A non camera film. Awaiting a catastrophe.
- 1978 - Co widzimy po zamknięciu oczu i zatkaniu sobie uszu. film noncamerowy / What We Can See with Our Eyes and Ears Shut. A non camera film including music. The non camera film also has a layer of sound. One moment in the life of the heroine.
- 1978 - Dziadowski blues non camera, czyli nogami do przodu / A Beggar's Blues Non Camera or the Bucket Kicked including music. Beggar's ballad commenting the images of the world, which symbolically represent a man sawing a branch on which he sits. Awards: 1980 - 11. PF of Art Zakopane, the prize Silver Pegasus.
- 1978 - Ludzie więdną jak liście / People Wither Like Leaves including music. A non camera film, scratched with music on the soundtrack. Human life transcends with smoking factory chimneys in the background.
- 1979 - Ostry film zaangażowany non camera / Sharp Involved Film non camera including music. A film about the collapse of cultural life caused by the elimination of glued posters informing about cultural events on kiosks. Awards: 1980 - 17th International Short Film Festival, Kraków, Bronze Dragon for the script, commentary and music; 20 Polish Nationwide Short Film Festival, Kraków, Grand Prix Golden Hobby-Horse.
- 1980 - Incydent: Dokument animowany non camera, czyli reżyser Krzysztof Gradowski o sobie / The Incident: An animated non camera document, director Krzysztof Gradowski about himself including music. Antonisz's amusing answer to Krzysztof Gradowski Non camera (1980) film, dedicated to his person. This time it is Gradowski who talks about himself.
- 1980 - Pan Tadeusz. Księga 1. gospodarstwo / Pan Tadeusz. Book One. The Estate including music. A non camera adaptation of the Book One Pan Tadeusz written by Adam Mickiewicz. Awards: 1981 - Award of the Minister of Culture and Art.
- 1981 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 1 including music. Modelled on the Polish Film Chronicle, a devoted and humorous non camera chronicle explaining the situation in space. Awards: 1982 - XXII OFFK Kraków, Bronze Hobby-Horse.
- 1981 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 2 including music. Devoted to the incorrect ways of smoking.
- 1982 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 3 including music. Devoted to beer.
- 1982 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 4. issue B. The chronicle contains, "Interview with an interesting individual".
- 1983 - Dodatkowe wole trawienne magistra Kizioła" / "The Additional Digestive Goitre of Magister Kizioł. Done in the convention of a non camera chronicle. A funny story about a man who in times of crisis has developed an additional crop that even an entertainment program broadcast on TV digests.
- 1983 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 5. Issue A 1983 including music. One of the chronicle topics is to reflect on what we see after getting it in the face.
- 1983 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 6. Issue B 1983. Chronicle on communism, dealing with absurdities, such as advising how to make your own shoes and shirt. Awards: 1984 - International Short Film Festival Oberhausen XXX, the main award and FIPRESCI award.
- 1984 - Czyżby wolny rynek w organizmie biologicznym? / Would It Be Free Trade in a Biological Organism?. A non camera movie-style chronicle of the discovery of green cells in human blood.
- 1984 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 7. Colour Export Issue 1984. Includes the report of the defence of a dissertation on kobzia.
- 1985 - Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, Hamburg, czyli non-camerowy reportaż po Republice Federalnej Niemiec / Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, Hamburg, a non camera coverage report on the Federal Republic of Germany including music. A non camera film. The effect of a trip to Germany, which Antonisz held in 1984 as the winner of a film festival in Oberhausen. The author focuses on the prices and flavours of beer in the visited cities, and compares the reality of the West and the communist era. The film was presented at the opening of the festival in Oberhausen.
- 1985 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 8. Issue A 1985. Among the chronicle topics is the doping scandal at the Chopin Competition.
- 1985 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 9. Issue B 1985. The report on amongst others, the giant Zakopane Ironworks on Giewont, an allusion to the communist Katowice Ironworks.
- 1985 - Polish Non Camera Chronicle no 10. Issue B 1985 including music. The chronicle explains the methods of retiree regeneration, how create a fully-fledged employee out of a few disabled people.
- 1986 - Polish Chronicle of Non Camera Cartoon Animation No. 11 Issue A, 1986. The chronicle discusses the ornithological sensation.
- 1986 - Światło w tunelu / Light at the End of the Tunnel, funny and amusing music, at the same time, a worrisome story about life after life. The soul of the hero sees two lights in the tunnel, which turn out to be a great car lights, run by death. Awards: 1986 - Head of Cinema Award, posthumously, along with the film Polish Chronicle of Non Camera Cartoon Animation No. 12 ed. B 1986, International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen Film Clubs Award FICC.
- 1986 - Polish Chronicle of Non Camera Cartoon Animation No. 12 Issue B 1986. The last chronicle and the last film by Antonisz. One of the information contained therein relates to the film's success Light at the End of the Tunnel at the festival in Oberhausen. Awards: 1986 - Head of Cinematography Award in the field of animated film for the pictures, posthumously, along with the film Light at the End of the Tunnel.
Julian Józef Antonisz is also the author of the non-camera brand logo for the Film Group Silesia. In 1980, Krzysztof Gradowski made an animated film dedicated to Julian Józef Antonisz, titled Non Camera.
Author: Jan Strękowski, September 2007. Updated by Agnieszka Le Nart, March 2013