Artists and art theoreticians who found themselves in Lodz after the Second World War decided that professional artistic cinema in Poland needed a place where filmmakers would be educated.
They founded the film school in 1948.
Rectorate Building in the 1950s:
photo. E. Haneman
The first professors were Jerzy Bossak, Jerzy Toeplitz, Wanda Jakubowska, Stanislaw Wohl and Antoni Bohdziewicz. The directing students - future directors started their studies at that time. These included Andrzej Munk, Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski, Janusz Morgenstern, Kazimierz Kutz and Kazimierz Karabasz and cinematographers Jerzy Wojcik, Witold Sobocinski, Mieczyslaw Jahoda and Wieslaw Zdort. At the same time, a higher drama school in Lodz was opened and run by Kazimierz Dejmek. Amongst its first graduates were Jadwiga Baranska and Jan Machulski.
The political thaw of 1956 flourished with teaching programmes covering world film art achievements. The screening room in the Rectorate building became a cult place. Thanks to the personal contacts of the professors, American and western European films unavailable in official distribution were screened here. The film school became the centre of Polish film life and to study in Lodz the dream of future artists. The school was famous for its liberal lifestyle and openness and an atmosphere of intellectual ferment and nonchalance towards conventions in art and ways of living. The fashion for jazz resulted in the forming of a band in which cinematographers Witold Sobocinski and Jerzy Matuszkiewicz were the leaders. Roman Polanski won a prize at the film festival during the world exposition Expo 1958 for the film ‘Two Men and a Wardrobe’. The school steps leading to the screening room, which have become a legend over the years, were the place of meetings and discussion and student jokes.
Henryk Kluba and Roman Polański,
source: Lodz Film School archive
In 1958, the film school and drama school united. In the 1960s, the students of the directing department were Jerzy Skolimowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Edward Zebrowski, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Marek Piwowski, Witold Leszczynski, Grzegorz Krolikiewicz, Wojciech Marczewski and Marcel Lozinski. In the cinematography department were Adam Holender, Slawomir Idziak, Andrzej Jaroszewicz and Edward Klosinski. This new generation of artists created a trend known as the ‘Cinema of Moral Anxiety’. In contrast to the earlier ‘Polish School of Film’, it focused on contemporary times and deepened the psychological portraits of the protagonists. Polanski, Skolimowski and Holender chose emigration and careers in the west. The acting department is proud of its graduates such as Janusz Gajos, Zygmund Malanowicz and Barbara Brylska.
The year 1968
Screening Room in Rectorate Buildings
source: Lodz Film School archive cast a gloomy shadow over the school – due to political persecution Jerzy Toeplitz left the post of Rector of the school followed by many pedagogues. In the 70s, Wojciech Jerzy Has became a professor and later Rector and his artistic authority secured the school’s sense of independence. The school educated a new generation of students including Ryszard Bugajski, Feliks Falk, Filip Bajon, Piotr Szulkin, Wojciech Wiszniewski, Krzysztof Krauze, Juliusz Machulski, Janusz Kijowski, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Krzysztof Ptak, Bronislaw Wroclawski, Mariusz Benoit and Krzysztof Stroinski. The school started to participate in significant film festivals in the world. The student films were appreciated by festival juries in Cannes, Munich, New York, Oberhausen, Mannheim and Poitiers.
Władysław Pasikowski and Paweł Edelman
photo. J. Marczewski
In the 70s and 80s, among the students were: Robert Glinski, Piotr Sobocinski, Jan Jakub Kolski, Jacek Blawut, Dorota Kedzierzawska, Wladyslaw Pasikowski, Adam Sikora, Jolanta Dylewska, Mariusz Grzegorzek and Pawel Edelman.
The political change of 1989. allowed the film school to spread its wings – the school campus started to expand and a great deal of film equipment was bought. The new times and new media also resulted in changes in the acting department where actors were prepared to work in theatre, film and television. In those years, students who finished acting studies at the Lodz Film School included Zbigniew Zamachowski, Cezary Pazura, Wojciech Malajkat, Edyta Olszowka and Gabriela Muskala. Next to film direction, cinematography, acting and film production management new faculties were set up: film editing, screen-writing, photography, animation
and special-effects. Amongst the graduates of the last 2 decades are: Wojciech Smarzowski, Piotr Trzaskalski, Artur Reinhart, Xawery Zulawski, Arkadiusz Tomiak, Wojciech Staron, Lukasz Barczyk, Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert, Slawomir Fabicki, Maria Sadowska, Leszek Dawid, Greg Zglinski, Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa, Radoslaw Ladczuk and Borys Lankosz.
Direction Students during Prof. Krzysztof Hejke’s class
photo: K. Hejke