Director, screenwriter and film producer. Born December 28, 1972 in Warsaw
A director, screenwriter and film producer.
Adamik is the daughter of directors Agnieszka Holland and Laco Adamik. When martial law was introduced in Poland she left the country together with her mother at the age of nine. Adamik was raised in Paris; she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris and the prestigious Institute St-Luc in Brussels.
Adamik says she spent her childhood on the set; nonetheless her first professional experience was that of her mother's personal assistant on the set of The Secret Garden (1993). She went on to work as a visual artist - a storyboard designer - for films made by her mother, such as Total Eclipse (1995), Washington Square 1997), The Third Miracle (1999) and Shot in the Heart (2001). She also worked on productions led by highly regarded directors, including Baz Luhrman - on Romeo + Juliet (1996), Jonathan Demme - Beloved (1998), Luis Mandoki - Angel Eyes (2001) and Scott Hicks - Hearts in Atlantis (2001).
After being asked in an interview for Viva! magazine about her advance in the professional hierarchy, Adamik said the following:
When I was seven I decided I would draw cartoons. Since I didn't make it in the world of comic books I turned to storyboards and film. I worked with many outstanding directors but I also met a lot of losers who knew much less about film than I did. This was frustrating. When I worked with them I would come up with ideas which they took as their own and ruined them. It made me angry, so when a chance appeared to make my own film - a sheer coincidence - I decided to give it a try. The offer was made at a party in Hollywood.
The film Bark! is a story about a young frustrated woman who one day finds herself barking and acting like a dog. While her intention is to show her discontentment with the surrounding world, her family and friends treat it as a charming folly. The film was well-received by critics and found itself in the main competition at the 2002 Sundance Festival. It was later presented at other events, including festivals in Moscow, Karlovy Vary and Munich. Adamik's name appeared on Variety's ten most promising young talents of the season and she also received a favourable review from The Hollywood Reporter.
In 2002, together with her mother Agnieszka Holland, Adamik started the production of Janosik: A True Story, an epic costume drama about the highland robber who stole from the rich and gave to the poor - a tale popular on both sides of the Tatra Mountains. It was planned as the biggest Polish-Czech-Slovak co-production in the history of the cinema industry in these countries. Unfortunately due to financial problems the project did not come to fruition. It was finally finished in 2009 and aroused a great deal of controversy. Genuine trial documents from 1713 formed the starting point for the film, which strayed considerably from the details of the romantic legend. Adamik strongly defended the ambiguity of her main character. As she told Duży Format:
The Harnaś robbers' embroidered pants and high hats in reality never existed in Janosik's times. They didn't use colourful threads either. Their sweaters looked like those from Zara - young people could wear them today, they're very cool. I like it when costumes in historical films do not become part of the period clichés. The clothes we wear are never entirely contemporary or trendy; just as you don't replace the furniture in your house every couple of years.
In the same interview, Adamik explained how her work on the film proved an exceptionally valuable experience:
I did the documentation, the castings myself. I'd made only one small film before in the United States. And here a huge production, space and storytelling with images. (…) It was a grand scale: helicopters, stuntmen. We used different improvised means; to lift the camera and to make tracking shots we would hang the cameraman on a rope… Yet at the same time there were the small-scale modes of narration: hand-held camera, close to the characters, in motion.
The narrative feel and the grand-scale production of Janosik: A True Story gives it the feel of a contemporary story. At the same time, as Bożena Janicka noted in Kino:
Jura Janosik has a particular trait: the issue he tries to hide the most is the feeling of belonging mixed with a feeling of alienation. He is the only one in his group who knows how to read; he mastered the classic rules of fencing and can show off in front of his peers, winning a duel with a regular officer. The girl he falls in love with and whom he wants to marry is not an ordinary highlander but the vicar's daughter. On the other hand Agnieszka Holland's - and Kasia Adamik's - main character knows he can be himself only among his own folk, even if they think differently. Janosik's divided loyalties are shared by many artists, too.
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While waiting to finish Janosik, Adamik took on producing a television series. She shot Ekipa (Prime Minister, 2007), possibly the first Polish political fiction series together with Agnieszka Holland and Agnieszka's sister, Magdalena Łazarkiewicz. The series showed the mechanisms of power in a mature democracy - in many respects a reflection of the contemporary Polish political scene.
Tadeusz Sobolewski wrote in Gazeta Wyborcza (September 12, 2007):
The cinematic attempts to engage in politics after 1989 have been either hesitant or failed. Ekipa breaks a taboo. It gets at the ruling class without looking from below or through allegories such as those used in the 1970s, but looks directly and from the inside. It seems as if it were us who had to take on the burden of power. Just as much as a film needs a proper main character politics need a leader who will prove a real man. He should not be a leader but a person who is trustworthy, who can be relied on.
Adamik became involved in other television productions. She worked on the third season of Pitbull (2008), a police series with cult status, as well as on Naznaczony (editor's translation: Marked, 2009), a ground-breaking series on the Polish market which was intended as an answer to the international hit The X-Files (2009).
Most importantly Adamik directed her second feature film, The Offsiders (2008). It tells a story taken from real life, based on regular world football championships organised by the homeless, in which the Polish team plays a significant role. Kasia Adamik's film creates a (fictional) story about the making of a football team made up of homeless people from Warsaw. The playing coach is a former football player whose career finished after an injury, while his inability to adapt to the changing reality dragged him into decline. Returning to the pitch and creating a football team gives him a chance to come back to society. As it turns out, despite his fears, it is an opportunity he does not waste. The film was shown at numerous festivals in Poland and abroad; it received audience awards in Chicago and Gdynia.
Agnieszka Jakimiak's review of the film in the Kino monthly goes:
Another story about the social underclass full of faith that the eye of the camera is the best tool for showing the nooks and crannies of the everyday humdrum. And again cinema is supposed to support the illusion of realism and objectivism; once again it is ostentatiously and explicitly engaged; and once again it claims its right to didacticism. By some miracle (or maybe because of her director's talent) Kasia Adamik steers clear of most of the traps and avoids falling into a naïve or moralising tenor.
Kasia Adamik continues to work in film and television production. She supervised the recording of such shows as Jan Klata's famous play Hamlet produced at the Teatr Wybrzeże in Gdańsk and staged at the Gdańsk Shipyard (2006). In addition, she has been collaborating on the production of promotional and music videos. Warsaw Pact, a production company in which Adamik is a shareholder, was the Polish co-producer of the film The Karamazovs (2008).
In 2010 Adamik debuted as a theatre director. Together with Olga Chajdas she staged Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia at Warsaw's Och-Teatr.
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Adamik (right) with mother Agnieszka Holland posing with the Silver Bear at the 67th edition of the annual Berlin International Film Festival. Photo: Carsten Koall / EPA / PAP
In the following years Adamik did some more TV productions: together with Magdalena Łazarkiewicz and Olga Chajda she realised two seasons of Głęboka woda (Deep Waters), narrating the story of social workers. She also directed several episodes of three productions of the channel Canal+: Without Secrets, Krew z Krwi (Own Flesh and Blood), and The Border.
In 2017 the film Spoor, co-directed by Adamik together with Agnieszka Holland, premiered. As a duo they were awarded at Gdynia Film Festival for directing, and the film itself was nominated for many awards, notably winning the Alfred Bauer Prize at Berlinale. Amok directed by Adamik was released in the same year. It is a Polish-German-Swiss crime film starring Mateusz Kościukiewicz and Łukasz Simlat in the main roles. Adamik was nominated for the Golden Lion at Gdynia Film Festival for this work.
In 2018 Netflix released its first Polish production, the counterfactual series 1983 that sparked intense emotions in the country. Adamik directed five episodes (1-4, 8).
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Filmography (director and producer):
- 2001 - Bark! (directing)
- 2002 - Julia wraca do domu / dz:Julie Walking Home (television, co-directing)
- 2005 - Copying Beethoven (co-directing)
- 2007 - Ekipa / Prime Minister (television series, directing of individual episodes);
- 2008 - Boisko bezdomnych / The Offsiders (including script idea); Audience Award at the 2008 Polish Film Festival in Chicago; Award for Directing and Best Professional Feature Film at Happy End 2009 Optimistic Film Festival in Rzeszów; Golden Angel for Best Polish Film at 2009 MFF TofiFest in Toruń;
- 2008 - Karamazovi / The Karamazovs (co-production);
- 2008 - Pittbull (television series, directing of individual episodes);
- 2009 - Janosik. Prawdziwa historia / Janosik: A True Story (co-directing with Agnieszka Holland);
- 2009 - Naznaczony / Marked (television series, directing of individual episodes);
- 2011 - Hidden (second unit director)
Originally written in Polish by Konrad J. Zarębski, February 2010; updated: Feb 2019. Translated by: Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer, NS