Paweł Kędzierski is a film director and documentary filmmaker, born in 1946 in Warsaw.
Film director and documentary filmmaker born in 1946 in Warsaw.
He studied Polish philology at the University of Warsaw and directing at the Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film in Łódź, graduating in 1971 with two works: Zmiana (editor’s translation: A Shift) and Widziane z Dołu (Seen From Underneath), two parts of the same project created together with Marcel Łoziński. These were not his first films realized for TV. During his studies he shot, together with Radosław Piwowarski, Bezdroże (Wasteland) and Puste Krzesła (Empty Chairs). Kędzierski obtained his diploma with the short film Na Smyczy (On a Leash). His first film after graduating was Happy End, which he completed in collaboration with Marcel Łoziński.
Paweł Kędzierski was a member of Andrzej Wajda’s Zespół X, where he shot a few feature films. The director was for many years associated with Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych (the Documentary and Feature Film Production Company), where the greatest part of his documentary films were created. In 1990 he co-established Studio Filmowe Kronik. Since 1990 he has also worked in Polska Kronika Filmowa realizing monothematic chronicles. A long-time chairman of Stowarzyszenie Filmowców Polskich, he was awarded the Grand Prix at the festival in Oberhausen for Dzień Dziecka (Children’s Day) in 1981 and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage prize for Wybór Polski (Poland’s Choice) in 1990.
Małgorzata Hendrykowska (Kronika Kinematografii Polskiej 1895-1997, Warsaw 1999) wrote about the generational shift within the group of Polish documentarists that occurred in 1971, and about the rebellion of documentarists that sprang up at the festival in Kraków. She describes the ‘scepticism towards the official, superficial life which was inconsistent with individual experiences’. According to her, one of the most important characteristics of the new documentaries was showing the contradiction between ‘the official and the private spheres of life’. In 1971 Mirosław Przylipiak referred to the issue in a similar manner by saying that the filmmakers of the generation turned toward describing social reality instead of focusing on the represented world. The main features of the group, or (using Tadeusz Lubelski’s words) of Łoziński’s group are creation, inscenization, and artistic provocation. Wojciech Wiszniewski and Marcel Łoziński were among the most determined artists in applying this method. Kędzierski has applied some elements of the widely understood creation too, partially in the films he made with Łoziński.
The power of young directors debuting at the turn of the 1960s and the 1970s based on the ability to record reality in a way that enabled them to denounce facades and show the hidden second reality. A classic example of this mechanism is Autoportret (Self-portrait), about which Bożena Janicka wrote in Film (26/1981):
A group of filmmakers comes to a small place (a village, a city?) with the aim of shooting a film about it. The local authorities gather and ‘propose the film’s subject area’, announcing at the end that they are going to choose from among themselves a commission to ‘specify film frames’. They obviously want to show off their works.
A similar description would be appropriate for Dzień Dziecka, though the latter is no longer about mocking newspeak and the reality under Gierek’s rule but to show a day of a child whose life is not covered with the colourful paint usually added by parents. Oskar Sobański wrote about the film when commenting on the short-film festival in Kraków in the following manner (‘Film’,14/1982):
The public has silently chosen its favourite: Paweł Kędzierski’s Dzień Dziecka. I also believe that it is the best Polish film of the festival.
Despite such a positive reception, the film did not win any prizes. Sobański suggested that the reason for the lack of prizes was the fact that the film had been recently awarded at the festival in Obernhausen.
Paweł Kędzierski, like other filmmakers of his generation, walked away from strictly recording reality in favour of creation and provocation as in the case of Happy End or in favour of satire and the grotesque as in Wszyscy dla Wszystkich (Everyone for Everyone). However, he believed in recording reality and facts more than other filmmakers, including Łoziński. Sometimes, his works were artistically close to the films of his master Kazimierz Karabasz, like for instance Cisza i Ciemność (Silence and Darkness) from the 1990s. A closer look at reality exposed hidden meanings and attached values to the protagonists’ efforts. At the same time, after the memorable 1989 election, Kędzierski became interested in the general picture of Poland and Poles, in capturing social consciousness and showing the changes that took place in the new sociopolitical reality rather than being still focused on parts of reality and individual cases, even if they can be transmitted to universal metaphors. Jaka Polska (What Kind of Poland), Wybór Polski (Poland’s Choice), Wybory 1989 – Koniec Komunizmu (The 1989 Election – The End of Communism), and Dar Wolności (The Gift of Freedom) follow the ambitious aim of evaluating Poles as a nation and taking a closer look at how they handle democracy and freedom, particularly freedom of speech. Kędzierski is here closer to another of his masters – Jerzy Bossak. The choice for such a form is definitely affected by his work in the PKF, which has recorded the Polish reality for more than fifty years.
Zdzisław Pietrasik wrote in the 1990s (Polityka 23/1992):
Documentary film was a phenomenon in the previous Poland. Around the world the short form was most of the time used by debuting directors who after becoming proficient in it usually moved to feature films. Here (…) we could meet lifelong documentarists who did not think of switching their chosen scope of activity. Using the popular terminology of the present day we would say that documentary film had its own ethos and was proud of it.
Kędzierski declared his faithfulness towards the ‘cinema of facts’ both with the cameral Cisza i Ciemność and the panoramic Nasza Polska (Our Poland). Marta Sztokfisz wrote about the latter (Fakty, 28/1997):
A grotesque and depressing image of democratic Poland emerges from the film.
Paweł Kędzierski has for many years mostly created documentaries, but is also the author of interesting feature films. In the 1970s he used documentary and feature interchangeably. Na Smyczy, CDN (To Be Continued), Trochę Wielkiej Miłości (A Bit of Great Love) and Zdjęcia Próbne (Film Tests), made together with Agnieszka Holland and Jerzy Domaradzki, all fit among the raising ‘cinema of moral anxiety’. These films are characterised by freshness of film perspective, psychological accuracy and a lack of the obtrusive moralizing that was the weakness of films from the period. The additional advantage of the listed films is the documentary realism of observations already visible in CDN. Kędzierski claimed that he shares with Zbigniew Kamiński, the author of the second part (Lekcja Miłości / Lesson of Love) of the film, ‘a belief that contemporary cinema is not based on literature but on life’. A similar envoy is visible in Zdjęcia Próbne, where authentic materials from film tests are used. Another film worth noting is Trochę Wielkiej Miłości, which has another interesting characteristic that makes the film still interesting to watch. As distinct from most of the cinema of moral anxiety’s films, Trochę Wielkiej Miłości had a sense of humour and a distance to the story told.
Kędzierski has never walked away from documentaries like his friends did: Krzysztof Kieślowski, Jerzy Domaradzki, Agnieszka Holland, and Radosław Piwowarski. Speaking about Jaka Polska in 1997 the director declared:
(…) reality, when compared to the world of fiction, is more interesting and has more meanings. With the use of documentaries I can show things that are real. And I will stay with it. (‘Film’, 9/1997)
- 1969 – Bezdroże (editor’s translation: Wasteland). Written and directed together with Radosław Piwowarski.
- 1970 – Puste Krzesła (Empty Chairs). Written and directed together with Radosław Piwowarski.
- 1971 – Zmiana (A Shift). Written and directed together with Marcel Łoziński.
- 1971 – Widziane z Dołu (Seen From the Underneath). Written and directed together with Marcel Łoziński.
- 1971 – Robotnicy '71 - Nic o Nas bez Nas (Workers ’71 – Nothing About Us Without Us). Script written by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Tomasz Zygadło, directed together with Krzysztof Kieślowski, Tomasz Zygadło, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Tadeusz Walendowski).
- 1973 – Happy End. Written and directed together with Marcel Łoziński
- 1975 – Ogłoszenie Drobne (A Short Announcement)
- 1976 – Wszyscy dla Wszystkich (Everyone for Everyone)
- 1977 – Białe Tango (White Tango)
- 1977 – Naprawdę na Niby (Really Unreal)
- 1978 – Autoportret (Self-portrait)
- 1979 – Rozkład Pożycia (A Rotting Sex Life)
- 1981 – Dzień Dziecka (Children’s Day)
- 1983 – Biuro Usług (Service Office)
- 1985 – Dzień Dziecka na Wsi (Children’s Day in the Country)
- 1987 – Dzień jak Rok (A Day Like a Year)
- 1988 – Dokąd (Where to)
- 1989 – 1989 - Koniec Komunizmu (The 1989 Election – The End of Communism)
- 1990 – Wybór Polski (Poland’s Choice). Written and directed together with Andrzej Piekutowski.
- 1990 – Cud nad Wisłą (A Miracle Over Wisła River)
- 1990 – Marsz na Polskę (March on Poland)
- 1990 – Trzy Grudnie (Three Decembers)
- 1991 – Dni Dzieci (Children’s Days)
- 1991 – Przewodnik po Polsce (A Guide to Poland)
- 1991 – Uliczka Wolność (The ‘Freedom’ Street)
- 1992 – Z Wilna (From Vilnius)
- 1992 – Był Bal (There Was a Prom)
- 1994 – Uniesieni Szałem (Lifted with Madness)
- 1996 – Jaka Polska (What Kind of Poland) Written and directed together with Andrzej Piekutowski.
- 1998 – Pan Tadeusz, Czyli Matecznik (Pan Tadeusz, or a Den). Script written together with Anna Górna and Lubomir Zając, directed together with Anna Górna.
- 1999 – Cisza i Ciemność (Silence and Darkness)
- 2001 – Dar Wolności (The Gift of Freedom). Written and directed together with Andrzej Piekutowski.
- 2004 – Powstanie Zwykłych Ludzi (Common People’s Uprising)
- 2006 – Teraz Wtedy (Now Then)
- 2007 – Film znaleziony w Sieci (A Film Found in the Internet)
- 2007 – Telewizyjny Opis Obyczajów (A Television Description of Customs)
- 2008 – My Cichociemni. Głosy Żyjących (We the Silent Unseen, Voices of the Living)
- 1975 – Na Smyczy (On a Leash)
- 1976 – Trochę Wielkiej Miłości (A Bit of Great Love)
- 1976 – Zdjęcia Próbne (Film Tests). Written together with Agnieszka Holland, Jerzy Domaradzki and Feliks Falk; directed together with Agnieszka Holland and Jerzy Domaradzki.
- 1969 – Ktoś Kiedyś Powiedział (Somebody Once Said)
- 1969 – Późne Wstawanie (Late Rising)
- 1969 – Studium (A Study)
Paweł Kędzierski colaborated with Marcel Łoziński at the realization of Koło Fortuny (Wheel of Fortune) and took care of the artistic side of Piotr Najsztub’s Żywioł Haręza (Haręza’s Element) and Grzegorz Skurski’s Klub Pod Bazarem (A Club Under the Market).
He also realised a few theatrical plays for TV, including Pio Baroja’s Spectre. He is the author and director of Nitonisio, a play for children staged in Teatr Grudziądz.
For the cycle The First Document he was responsible for the artistic side of Joanna Kramarczyk’s Gośka Gola! (2007) and Paweł Sobczyk’s Tak Trzeba Żyć (This is the Way to Live)(2007).
Author: Jan Strękowski, January 2004; updated December 2008; translated by Antoni Wiśniewski, April 2016