Łukasz Barczyk studied law and administration at the University of Warsaw and later graduated from the Polish National Film, Television and Theater School in Łódź. He became known for producing theatre plays for Polish television and gained recognition for his debut feature film I'm Watching you, Maria.
His debut feature was a big artistic event which gained recognition at Gdynia and Mannheim film festivals. Barczyk told the story of a young couple in crisis. She desires stability, marriage and children, while he's afraid of change. Tension that raises between them makes them feel lost and unsure.
Telling the story of a relationship in crisis, Barczyk adjusted the style to substance. Karina Kleszczewska's camera simulates amateur footage, constantly following the protagonists. Barczyk portrays them in close-ups, to show their emotions and dissects them out of their surroundings. In 2000 he received the Best Newcomer award at the Gdynia Film Festival, while Maja Ostaszewska was named best leading actress.
He made his second film in 2003. Changes is a story taking place in a secluded manor, where a mother, her three daughters, her son in law and granddaughter live. One day the fiance of another daughter comes, and the innocent meeting reveals the truth about complicated relationships of the family members, bringing to light secret passions, jelousy and dislike.
Intimate and intense, Changes were honoured at Gdynia and Turin festivals, and Maja Ostaszewska won the Orzeł Polish Film Award for her role. In the same year Barczyk directed an impressive version of Hamlet for the TV Theatre, shot in the Wieliczka salt mine, as well as two plays by Ingmar Villqist - 51 minutes and Phantom. In 2006 he put Haruki Murakami's South of the Border on the TV screen.
In 2008 he realised another feature film. The plot of The Unmoved Mover takes place in a small town and most images are born in the protagonists' immagination. The man (Jan Frycz) is chair of a factory, and the woman (Marieta Żukowska), his former employee, awakens his wildest instincts.
We live in a time when we have to apologize for everything, especially when we make movies (...) When I make a film such as the Mover, I am aware that it will piss of a huge group of people. But when they are pissed, they act according to my intentions. The louder they scream, the more they say about themselves, not about me - the director told Karolina Sulej in an interview.
The Unmoved Mover resulted controversial among both the audience and critics. Janusz Wróblewski wrote in Polityka:
In The Unmoved Mover, Łukasz Barczyk (...) made the mistake of using Lynch's tricks without entering the protagonists' subconscious. As a result, instead of a mystery play of suffering, complexes and fears, of disturbing visions revealing human souls, he created an emotionally indifferent props room, trying to make the plot as weird as possible.
But Artur Cichmiński wrote for Stopklatka:
With his third feature Łukasz Barczyk not only proves that he is a talented director, but also that he is a corageous and uncompromising one. (...) he realized an agressive, vivid, provocative, even immoral film, according to chosen aesthetic and ethic criteria. There's a certain something in this movie. Something intriguing, something disturbing. He slaps the viewer, sometimes even knocks him out, but instead of wanting to give tit for tat, one wants to ask him: why?
Barczyk's following film resulted just as controversial. The director invited theatre director Krzysztof Warlikowski and actors from Nowy Theatre - Jacek Poniedziałek and Renate Jett - to join him in creating Italiani. The film is "a journey to the intimate world of a man (Warlikowski), his relationships with his family and loved ones (Renate Jett, Jacek Poniedziałek), to images and feelings so intimate, that paradoxically they become universal".
In Italiani Barczyk went on a search for a film language able to express basic feelings and emotions, trespassing conventional psychological cinema. Anna Serdiukow wrote in Stopklatka:
Italiani is an important artistic event. The film is corageous, uncompromising, experimental. It plays with aesthetics, at the same time questioning the mere idea of narrative, asking more questions that in answers. It's great that Łukasz Barczyk stopped getting offended and decided to d what he wants - he proved that a film can be made in Poland outside of the official financing system, outside of mainstream and with no trivial casting.
In 2015 another Barczyk's film hit the screens. Influence is his most surprising project up to date. The director, until then known for intimate, modest cinema, decided do direct a big production set in the times of Greater Poland Uprising.
In Influence Łukasz Barczyk brings the uprising out of collective oblivion, but he talks about it in his particular way. He is not interested in facts nor in a crib about reasons, course and results. We won't see batalistic scenes nor adventures of brave soldiers. Barczyk invites the audience into the world of his immagination, showing the uprising as a duel between two thought-readers - the malicious doctor Abuse hired by the Prussian army and a group of Polish patriots who face him. They fight for the mind and soul of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a Polish pianist and politician, who comes to Poland from the US on an important mission.
1999 - I'm Watching you, Maria
2003 - Changes
2008 - The Unmoved Mover
2010 - Italiani
2014 - Influence
- 2001 - For I'm Watching you, Maria - Debut Award at the 25th Annual Festival of Polish Feature Films, Gdynia 2000; Main Award at the Tarnowski Feature Film Festival, 2001; Award for the most individualism at the 5th European Union Film Festival, Wroclaw 2000; Special Distinction Juror as well as Special Distinction FIPRESCI at the International Film Festival in Mannheim-Heidelbern, 2001;
- 2003 - For Changes - Cinemavenire Award at the Turin Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award and Special Jury Prize;
- 2004 - For 51 minutes - Performance Arts REMI Award at the Houston Film Festival;
- 2004 - For Hamlet - Award for Best TV Play at the Kazimierz Dolny Summer of Cinema Festival (Lato Filmów)
Updated by NMR, July 2016.