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Kieślowski's rebellious youth, part 1

09 December 2015

Rebellious youth, part 1

In October of 1957 Krzysztof Kieślowski left Sokołowsko. He went to continue his education – at first in Warsaw, and later in 1964 in Lodz. This was a leap into the unknown – an escape from provincial, small town apathy and lack of prospects, into the metropolitan hustle and bustle filled with possibilities.

In October of 1957 he found a foothold in the State Theater High School (Państwowe Liceum Technik Teatralnych), the deputy director was a distant cousin of his mother, Kazimierz Pręczkowski, painter and scenographer. Thanks to his influence Kieślowski was enrolled in this unique institution. They trained decorators, tailors, wigmakers, makeup artists, prop masters, costume designers, carpenters, furniture makers and lighting specialists for work in the theaters.

The first year in the high school was a selection year. Only half of the students graduated further – of 48 only 24 remained on average.

Krzysztof Kieślowski was assigned to the decorative painting department. While studying at the high school was free, Krzysztof asked his parents for money in almost every letter he sent home. He needed the money for a school uniform, school workshops, bus fair, and various other expenses he had not anticipated. Something bad continuously happened: he tore his jacket, broke the zipper, wore out his shirt, made holes in his pants, broke his glasses....

During the first months of his stay in the capitol he lived with his aunt Domańska, in the Mokotów district. Later he was granted a sholarship and a room in Dziekanka – the art school dormitory on Krakowskie Przedmieście street. However he boarded in downtown “milk bars”, because he didn't enjoy the dorm meals.

Studying in a theater focused school made him a frequent visitor in Warsaw theaters, most often the Dramatyczny, Współczesny, Ateneum and National. He attended magnificently staged performances, observed great actors at work. After performances he waged fierce discussions. In his penultimate year of high school, with some of his friends, he is employed as an extra on the set of “Samson” directed by Andrzej Wajda. For the first time he had the opportunity to see the day-to-day of film production. He was sorely disappointed.

From the second year of high school he had a sweetheart – Bożenna Skwara, that attended the costume department. For three years they where inseparable and the life of the school. They spent holidays together.

Kieślowski's parents still resided in Sokołowsko and their sons visits where becoming less frequent – two, three time a year. On March 3rd, 1960 in Sokołowsko, Krzysztof's father died at age 49. Krzysztof was then in his third year of high school, he was just 19 years old.

In his fourth year he bought a used motorcycle for a pittance – an avo sport. For fear of theft he kept it in his dorm room. This resulted in him being kicked out of the dormitory one year before graduation. He moved to Otrębusy (20 km from Warsaw), where his mother rented a room after leaving Sokołowsko.

His high school education took five years. In June 1962 Kieślowski graduated and received a theater technician diploma. In July 1962 he made his first attempt at getting accepted into Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna I Filmowa in Lodz. He reached the third and final round of selection, but was not accepted into the school.

In September, he enrolled at the Warsaw Studium Nauczycielskie (teachers college) on 78 Saska St. in the art education department. He treated the school as a means to survive, and above all avoid compulsory military service. While he rarely attended classes at the college, he moonlighted as a dresser at Warsaw's Contemporary Theater (Teatr Współczesny).
In June of 1963 he made his second attempt at film school, once again reaching the final round of examinations. For a while he remained jobless. In the end, he got a job at the Dzielnicowa Radza Narodowa Warszawa - Żoliborz (National District Council Warsaw – Żoliborz), as an official for the cultural and educational sector. He worked there less than six months.

In July of 1964 on his third attempt he is accepted into Lodz Film School (PWSTiF).


Stanisław Zawiśliński
Więcej informacji i szczegółów w biografii reżysera :
S.Zawiśliński : Kieślowski- ważne,żeby iść“ (wyd.Skorpion ,2005; II wydanie, 2011).

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Financed with subsidy of The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland