Cezary Łazarewicz – our guest on reportage
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28. 02. 2024.

The journalist, reporter and writer met students of directing and production. He talked about the arduous work of a reporter, the relationship between the written word and film and the power of film.

“In his most important books, Cezary Łazarewicz deals with topics that seem, in the language of reporters, “well-trodden” - we think we know everything about the topic. However, it turns out that this is not the case. As far as they are concerned, we have a very tedious documentation process behind us, discussions, collecting many pieces that ultimately give us the truth,” said Jacek Snopkiewicz, organizer of the meeting and lecturer at the Film Art Organization Department.

Why reportage? Cezary Łazarewicz told the students about the beginnings of his professional career. “For me, these were stories about life - but true, not made up; everything can be verified in them. I grew up in the 1980s, where everything was hypocritical. Man has a natural need to seek the truth, I found it in journalistic texts,” said our guest.

“Later, Gazeta Wyborcza started being published. There were such great texts in Gazeta - long, and interesting to read. They talked about life, about the most important issues, but through some person, some event. This brought me, the Reader, closer to these events. It seemed to me then that the highest level in journalism was writing reportages - this was the Himalayas of journalism.”

Łazarewicz has written many award-winning reportage books: "Kafka z Mrożkiem. Reportaże pomorskie" (2012), "Sześć pięter luksusu. Przerwana historia domu braci Jabłkowskich" (2013), "Elegancki morderca" (2015), "Żeby nie było śladów. Sprawa Grzegorza Przemyka" (2016), "Tu mówi Polska. Reportaże z Pomorza" (2017), "Koronkowa robota. Sprawa Gorgonowej" (2018), "1968. Czasy nadchodzą nowe" (2018, wraz z Ewą Winnicką) and "Nic osobistego. Sprawa Janusza Walusia" (2019).

For the book "Leave No Traces" he received the Nike Literary Award, as well as the Oskar Halecki Award for the best popular science book devoted to the history of Poland in the 20th century and the MediaTory Award in the Observer category. The book also received the title “The Book of 2016” in the Radio Kraków plebiscite and was nominated for the Śląski Wawrzyn Literacki Award and the Kazimierz Moczarski Historical Award. It was among the finalists for the Ryszard Kapuściński Award.

“I wanted to see how this lie would change over time,” said Łazarewicz about the story of Grzegorz Przemyk. “How it was possible that the boy was unable to leave the police station on his own, and in the end, the accusations regarding the causes of his death fell on the paramedics who had taken him to the hospital. I wanted to verify it, but not from the point of view of the victim, but from the entire industry of lies that operated at that time.

The film LEAVE NO TRACES, based on the book by Cezary Łazarewicz, premiered in 2021. The film was directed by Jan P. Matuszyński, the author of the screenplay was Kaja Krawczyk-Wnuk.

The students and the author of the book talked about the relationship between the written word and film material.

“What are the benefits of non-fiction? It gives you a ready-made story. I think this is a big advantage. I told Janek Matuszyński that he could do whatever he wanted with this story - as long as he stuck to the truth,” recalled Cezary Łazarewicz, explaining what he believed the relationship between the author of the reportage and the director of the film, based on it was like.

“The author of the film gets a ready-made story, he gets documentation - very well done - the text is based on documents. Anyone could have written this story - document the topic, conduct interviews, find documents. Sit down and start writing. I think this saves about 2 years of work. I don't think I know much about film. I’m not an expert. However, I know that the impact of a film is 1000 times greater than that of a book, an image speaks 1000 times more than the written word. The film producer pays for the right to use the book. If he wants to hire a screenwriter, he does it, it’s fine by me. He works with whomever he chooses. Film is a team effort and writing is a personal ordeal.”

The meeting with Cezary Łazarewicz was a valuable lesson in reportage, a lesson in dealing with problems which arise on the author's path; a lesson in humility and hard work in finding the truth. Thank you for it!

The meeting with Cezary Łazarewicz was organized by Jacek Snopkiewicz, lecturer at the Faculty of Film Art Organization, who conducts classes on the subject "Production of TV reportage") and Prof. Andrzej Sapija, PhD, lecturer at the Faculty of Film and Television Directing, teacher of the subject "Documentary film - on the project".

ed. JK
photos: Anna Kazimierczak