Film, theatre and television director and screenwriter, born March 25, 1973 in Tarnów, died 19 September 2015, in Gdynia.
A film, theatre and television director and screenwriter.
Son of a famous bioenergotherapist, Stefan Wrona. He attended Film Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. After he completing his studies in 1999, he attended the Film Directing program at the Radio and Television Department of the University of Silesia. He graduated in 2002. Wrona continued his studies taking additional academic courses at the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing (2003) and Binger Film Institute in Amsterdam (2006). Currently, he lectures at the Radio and Television Department of the University of Silesia.
Marcin Wrona's film étude, Człowiek magnes / The Magnet Man (2001), drew critics and film lovers attention. The film, his final graduation project, was aimed to be a documentary on his father. However, the film changed into a painful vivisection of father-son relationship. Wrona used a wide range of filming techniques. Scenes were supplemented by pictures from home and TV archives, as well as animations and performances by famous actors, Ewa Kasprzyk and Zdzisław Wardejn. The film surprises with a unique sense of cinema and a dynamic montage, which skilfully erases differences between three different carriers (film tape, digital material and time lapse animation). It shows an accurate picture of the coming-of-age story, which has become a recurring theme in Marcin Wrona's works. The Magnet Man has been presented at nearly a hundred film festivals. Winning many prominent awards, including a distinction won at the prestigious Student Études Competition at the Camerimage and the Best Student Film Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Telefono (2004), a short film by Wrona made at Andrzej Wajda Film School, was included in the Spanish edition of Pedro Almodovar's film collection. The film is a witty extortion on Pedro Almodóvar, writing an ending to his story Patty Diphusa which was adapted into a stage monolog in Poland by Ewa Kasprzyk.
While waiting for a possibility to produce his full-length debut, Marcin Wrona focused on television theatre performances. He made his debut with the play Pasożyt / Parasite (2003), Skaza / Flaw (2005) by Marzena Broda. The story of siblings who form an incestuous relationship in order to escape from their parents abuse, this won Wrona another film directing award at the Sopot Festival. His next two theatre performances were the controversial Kolekcja / Collection (2006) by Harold Pinter and Doktor Halina / Doctor Halina (2007) based on a screenplay written jointly with Grażyna Trela gained recognition for acting in Sopot. In 2004, Marcin Wrona made his debut as a theatre director with Enda Walsh's Uwięzieni / Bedbound, about the insight into the soul of a murderer-psychopath.
Wrona's cooperation with Grażyna Trela resulted in a creation of another screenplay entitled Tamagotchi, which won the Polish edition of the Hartley Merrill International Screenplay Competition in 2007 and the third prize at its international finale. After further editing under the supervision of Sundance Institute specialists, the competition organizers, the screenplay served as a basis for his filmmaking debut Moja krew / My Blood (2009). The film was one of the major events at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia and in "The Young and Cinema" Debut Films Festival in Koszalin. At the latter festival, the film received the Screenplay Award and Journalists' Award.
My Blood tells a unique story about entering into adulthood. The main character is a boxer (played by Eryk Lubos received the Zbyszek Cybulski Award in 2009 for his role) who is forced to discontinue his career after being defeated in the ring. The sustained injury is so serious that he must give up practicing sport all together. The young man anticipates death approaching and wishes to leave a legacy after himself. He decides to have a family, in particular, a son. The boxer chooses a young illegal immigrant from Vietnam. She agrees to marry him but is already pregnant with other man's child. The boxer gives up his dream of having a son of his own but decides to support the young woman and her child's future. He asks his friend to fulfil his last will.
The film wins the viewers over with internal dynamics, fast montage, exceptionally acting, and great authenticity. The story is a reflection of reality and offers an insight into the Vietnamese community which is considered as "walled-in". The most important elements in My Blood are true emotions experienced during the metamorphosis of an eternal boy into a real man.
A few months following the premiere of My Blood, Wrona presented another feature film Chrzest / The Christening (2010). It is a winner of numerous awards, including Silver Lions for Best Male Lead and Best Editing at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia 2010. In 2010, the film competed in the Zabaltegi - New Directors competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the Reykjavik Film Festival and the Warsaw Film Festival. In Reykjavik, it received an honourable mention for a "brilliantly made film, which captures the heart with a story of sacrifice and confrontation, misery and hope, illustrating the innocence of children against the faults of their elders".
The script is loosely based on the real story of a man from the Polish provinces who, after operating as a criminal in his home town, finds himself in Warsaw. He hopes to change his luck and escape from the criminal past he left behind. Michael has everything he could possibly dream of, a beautiful wife, Magda, a newborn son and a good job. Unfortunately, there is a mafia vendetta against him and Michal desperately tries to find a way to save his family. Several days before the christening of his child he invites his old friend to be the godfather.
There are glaring similarities between The Christening and the director's debut film. As Wrona explains the similarities were intentional for he is interested in "the subject of maturity, attaining adulthood. The films have a similar structure, but are different stories. In 'The Christening', we contemplate the initiation into evil, we show how difficult it is to run away from it" (Gazeta Wyborcza, August 5, 2009).
The Christening is a proof of Wrona's brilliant directing skills. The film gives rise to controversies, the moral dilemmas are hidden under a thick coat of anger and violence (My Blood is also filled with violence). The world presented on the screen is a man's world where a woman is regarded as not even the role of a "warrior's rest" but simply an object. The question arises whether Wrona is a male chauvinist who creates a vision of a world without women? By no means, in a quoted interview for "Kino" he announces:
I would like to use the motif of one person replacing the other once more in order to see this phenomenon from the female perspective. Then, it would make a sort of trilogy. I even have several ideas for the cast. In 'My Blood' Eryk Lubos played a boxer who is aware of his death approaching. The role of a friend who is to take care of his girlfriend and child is played by Wojciech Zieliński. While in 'The Christening' Zieliński plays the character who anticipates death and Tomasz Schuchardt is to replace him. Probably, the latter one will play in the next film. I have not decided on an actress who will play the leading part yet.
We will have to wait for the final part of the trilogy. For now, Marcin Wrona finished filming Ratownicy / Rescuers (2010), a TV series on the professional and private lives of rescuers from the Mountain Volunteer Rescue Service.
In 2015, Demon – Wrona's last film was released. It was a game with the horror and comedy film conventions. The inspiration behind the film was Piotr Rowicki's play Przylgnięcie (Clinging), which enjoyed a big success on theatre stages. Wrona treated that text as a starting point for a story about dybbuk which possesses the body of a groom during a wedding reception (a great performance by Itay Tiran). Wrona combined classic horror film gimmicks with a comic panache, which made it resemble an amalgamation of a dark romantic horror with Wojtek Smarzowski's Wesele (The Wedding).
Wrona's film was, however, something more than just a juggling show of the artist's directing skills. The story about a spirit of a Jewish woman, who is released years after the war, became a non-orthodox tale about Holocaust, the covered up Polish faults, and collective disremembrance. When, in the final scene Andrzej Grabowski, playing the father of the bride, bids farewell to the wedding guests, asking them to forget about the wedding, the groom, and the last night's events, to start believing that they had never partaken in that drama, no doubt can be raised that Wrona is not alluding to the Polish attitude towards the difficult relationship between Poles and Jews from the past. In Demon, Wrona does not just offer an example of phenomenal cinema, in which humour mixes with horror, but also gives an account for the Polish harm done to the Jews and tells a story about an uncomfortable truth, which we would be most like to wipe out of memory.
In 2015, was one of the best received film at the Toronto Film Festival. It was also mentioned as one of the leading candidates for the main awards at the Gdynia Film Festival.
The director died on 19th September, 2015 in Gdynia.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski, September 2010, update: BS, September 2015.