Cinematographer, screenwriter and film director, author of Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth to, Declaration of Immortality and Red Spider. Born in 1970 in Kraków.
Cinematographer, screenwriter and documentary film director, including 2010's Declaration of Immortality..
His very controversial debut Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth to, made in 1999, instantly brought him to the forefront of young Polish filmmaking. In spite of heavy-handed blows from both critics and colleagues – Koszałka continues to make painfully sincere pictures.
He studied at various departments, e.g. biology, sociology, and various universities, among others the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Eventually, he graduated as cameraman from the Faculty of Radio and Television of the University of Silesia in Katowice. He is the cinematographer for numerous documentaries, television dramas and feature films, among them Magdalena Piekorz's Pręgi / The Welts, Borys Lankosz’s Reverse (2009) and Jacek Bromski’s criminal thriller Entanglement (2011).
He is also a screenwriter and a documentary film director. Koszałka's award-winning film Declaration of Immortality (2010) is a portrait of 'Crazy' Piotr Korczak, one of Poland's most accomplished climbers, who came up with many new techniques for climbing mountains. He was among the first in Poland to regard climbing as a sport. The film catches up with Korczak just as age forces his career into a slow decline, and examines how life changes for a man who once knew no bounds, but whose body becomes an impediment to his desire for immortality.
Marcin Koszałka asks him questions about the inevitable end of his career, the impact of age, and finally about death and trying to cope with the awareness of the ultimate end. Since its premiere at the 2010 Kraków Film Festival, where the film received the Audience Award and the Award of the President of the Polish Filmmakers Association, the film has garnered several awards at major international events, including the prestigious Silver Hugo Award for Best Documentary Film in the U.S., as well as the Silver Gentian at the 59th Trento Film Festival in Italy and a mention at the Tampere festival in Finland. Agnieszka Le Nart wrote on Biweekly.com:
His protagonists are people seeking to cheat death, denying the inevitable onset of illness, aging and death. But what makes this chase all the more disturbing is that many of these people are close friends and relatives of the director. Koszałka sacrifices his privacy and theirs to create incredibly intimate portraits of dysfunction, exhibitionism, manipulation and sabotage. It may be awkward, ugly, even cruel, but Koszalka’s films are irrevocably tinged with a heavy dose of truth – albeit an uncomfortable, inconvenient truth. The result is a self-incriminating psychoanalysis in which the subject is stripped bare – a technique critics have likened to emotional pornography. Convictions, intentions and ambitions are mocked, set against the undeniable irony that death cannot be escaped, that immortality is impossible. Ultimately, the pain of existence boils down to the knowledge that once one has attained the highest peaks, fulfilled one’s greatest ambitions, there is nowhere else to go but down. Degradation and decline are inevitable, whether one is a successful businesswoman, a champion mountain climber... or an award-winning filmmaker.
Koszałka’s fear of death drives him to use film as an uncompromising tool used to try to understand it, to come to terms with mortality, to mitigate this fear – and in the process, perhaps, understand life and its injustices. He once said: 'my obsession with death is a result of the neurosis I acquired at home, where there were conflicts and a lot of pressure. I don’t have time to treat it because I’m too busy. Besides, I’m afraid that if I was cured of my neurosis, then I wouldn’t have as many ideas. I think film is a better therapy'. And it's to his family that he dedicated his widely acclaimed, controversial trilogy, consisting of Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth to (1999), It will be allright (2004) and Let's run away from her (2010).
The latter, which constitutes the third part of his autobiographical trilogy is a story dedicated to his dead parents. The main protagonist is Małgorzata, the director's older sister, a successful businesswoman who only wants to see the 'bright side of life' and to whom he shows recordings from the palliative hospital ward in Kraków. 'What you showed me only gives me power, only reinforces my belief that death doesn't exist' - she says.
You'll be a Legend, Man (2012) was a radical change of subject: it's a film about the backstage of Euro 2012. The story about Damien Perquis and Marcin Wasilewski, two Polish football players, is a film about loneliness, the weight of family traumas about how difficult it is to carry someone else's dreams and hopes on one's shoulders. About old regrets, unhealed wouns, the sense of frustration and failure.
A few days after the cinema release of You'll be a Legend, Man, another Koszałka's film had its television premiere. The Lust Killer is a documentary about passion, perversion and hidden desires. It's the story of a meeting between Joachim Knychała - a serial killer of women, known as 'the Vampire from Bytom' or 'Frankenstein' - with Edward Kozak, a former TV journalist, who became famous in the 1980s thanks to his book Pamiętnik wampira - szczera rozmowa ze śląskim wampirem (editor's translation: 'The Vampire Diary - an Honest Conversation with the Silesia Vampire').
The subject kept fascinating Koszałka when he started working on his feature debut. Red Spider (2015). It tells the story of a serial killer who filled Kraków with horror in the 1960s. His inspiration was the life of the so-called ‘Vampire from Kraków’, one of the youngest serial killers in the world. The film was widely acclaimed both in Poland and internationally - among other things, it won prizes at festivals in Arras and Cairo.
- 1999 Takiego pięknego syna urodziłam / Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth to
- 2003 Imieniny / Name-day
- 2003 Made in Poland
- 2004 Jakoś to będzie / It'll Be allright
- 2006 Cały dzień razem / Whole Day Together
- 2006 Śmierć z ludzką twarzą / Death with Human Face
- 2010 Deklaracja nieśmiertelności / Declaration of Immortality
- 2010 Ucieknijmy od niej / Let's run away from Her
- 2012 Będziesz legendą, człowieku / You'll be a Legend, Man
- 2012 Zabójca z pożądania / The Lust Killer
- 2015 Czerwony Pająk / Red Spider
Source: Young Polish Cinema. Edited by Agnieszka Le Nart March 2012, updated by NMR, January 2016.