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Kieślowski's rebellious youth, part 2

27 December 2015

When the began studying at the film university he was 23 years of age.
He spent four years in the gloomy city of Lodz, but they where years filled with joy, craziness and sometimes dramatic.

Upon arrival in Lodz he rented an individual room on Kiliński St. He paid for it with funds he received from his university scholarship, he was awarded two: for room and board. Thanks to the latter he was able to eat at the school cafeteria six days a week. Every few months he rented a different apartment, he passed on the dorm room that was available to him.

Before he started working with a film camera during college, he took pictures with a “Druh” camera, and later with a twin-lens reflex “Start”. He captured urban florists and peddlers, anxious mothers with young children, indifferent man loitering in tenement gates, sports fans, children on the train tracks, the downcast elderly. With great pleasure he portrayed faces. Various. Photographed from afar and up close, in windows, behind the tram glass windows, bus, office counter. His photograph of a girl behind blurred glass appeared on the cover of a nationwide magazine “Kobieta I życie”.

He graduated his first year of study with good grades. In the second year with Piotr Studziński he started filming a short film about a „milk bar”, but never finished. He was captivated with Kazimierz Karabasz – a great documentary filmmaker and lecturer. Another influential figure in his life was documentary filmmaker Jerzy Bossak. The former was later the supervisor of his diploma film, the later of his thesis.

During his second year exams Kieślowski presented the short film „Tramway”, graded as average. Soon after he interned in the Warsaw Documentary Film Studio.

In the autumn of 1966 he met the 21 year old student of Lodz State School of Fine Arts – Maria Cautillo. They where married after just three months – on January 21st, 1967. Four months later he won the first film award of his career. His short film „The Office” (original title „Renta”) was honored at the Sixth Student Short Film Festival organized by the Lodz Film School.

In autumn of 1967 he began his last year of university. He completed the compulsory television presentation („Ataraks” by Andrzej Titkow) and theatrical („Żegnaj Judaszu” by Iredyński). In march of 1968, he was involved in the unfolding political events of the time and opposed the discrimination of Jews.

- It was a very important period for me and for everyone of my generation. Some of my friends and their parents emigrated. It was a harrowing experience for me to see their empty apartment. We helped them pack and watched them take a train to Vienna. It was like a funeral – he recalled in "Autobiography".

After the events of March '68 a new rector was appointed at the Lodz Film School. The atmosphere deteriorated. Student recruitment was put on hold for a year. It was in such an aura of negativity that Kieślowski prepared for his graduation. He was also looking for possibilities of work outside school. More and more he commuted from Lodz to Warsaw. He put his ideas forward to the WFD and made brave attempts at work in TV. The latter enabled him to realize the documentary movie “The Photograph”. Kieślowski finished it before his graduation.

During the summer and fall of 1968 he filmed his diploma film „From the City of Lodz”.

In the explication Kieślowski explained further:
… I want to look for truth not found in newspapers (…) oppose the daily newapaper reality with everyday life. Reality with its lack of punch lines, with its order and at the same time its mess – is the most modern and truest structure.
While in his diploma thesis entitled „Film i dramaturgia rzeczywistości” (Film and the drama of reality) he postulated:


“A documentary movie should seek to find action, drama and style in reality. It should create a new language derived from a more precise then ever before recording of reality. Life itself has to become both the pretext and content of the movie. It's about a movie void of artistic conventions – instead of talking about reality – using reality to tell a story. Instead of authorial commentary – a system of partnership: viewer – director...”

The diploma thesis contained a personal vision of cinema and his own place in the evolving field of film making. Kieślowski modified it, but remained true to many of the principals formulated in college.

He had not succeeded to find employment in Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych (Documentary Film Studio) right out of college as he had hoped. His first job was in Społeczna Wytwórnia Filmowa (Cooperative Film Studio) in Warsaw, where he was already living part time. He made short films – about clockmakers and tanners from Lublin, commercials for the student cooperative „Małgosia” from Toruń, WSK motorcycle, footwear made by the „Wisła” cooperative, and a few others. At the beginning of February 1970, he received the Master of Arts title. His schoolboy and student youth came to an end.


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