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Tadeusz Konwicki

Prose writer, screenwriter and film director. Founder of the 'cinema d'auteur' in Poland and author of 20 books. Born in 1926 in Nowa Wilejka, near Vilnius (today Naujoji Vilnia, Lithuania), died on January 7th in Warsaw at 88 years old.

The Polish retrospective will feature Tadeusz Konwicki: an outstanding writer, screenwriter, film director and director of the "Kadr" Film Studio, who has recently passed away. We will show his masterpieces, such as a debut psychological drama The Last Day of Summer starring Jan Machulski and Irena Laskowska, the cult Salto and unconventional literary adaptations The Issa Valley (based on a novel by Czesław Miłosz) and A Tale of Adam Mickiewicz's 'Forefathers' Eve', as well as some slightly forgotten gems of the Polish cinema: All Souls' Day and How Far Away, How Near. The retrospective was prepared in partnership with the Polish National Audiovisual Institute.

A teenager during World War II, Konwicki joined the Polish resistance movement, fighting first the occupying Nazi army and then the Soviets. When his native province was awarded to Lithuania after the war, he and many other ethnic Poles were “repatriated” to Poland.

Konwicki was educated at the Universities of Cracow and Warsaw and began writing for newspapers and periodicals. He served on the editorial boards of leading literary magazines and followed the official Communist Party line. His first work, Przy budowie (1950; “At the Construction Site”), won the State Prize for Literature. He began a career as a filmmaker and scriptwriter in 1956; his film Ostatni dzień lata (“The Last Day of Summer”) won the Venice Film Festival Grand Prix in 1958. By the late 1960s he had quit the Communist Party, lost his job in the official film industry, and become active in the opposition movement.

Konwicki’s work is suffused with guilt and anxiety, coloured by his wartime experiences and a sense of helplessness in confronting a corrupt and repressive society. Chief among his novels are Rojsty (1956; “The Marshes”) and Sennik wspóczesny (1963; A Dreambook for Our Time), a book that writer and critic Czesław Miłosz called “one of the most terrifying novels of postwar Polish literature.” His other works of that period are Wniebowstpienie (1967; “Ascension”) and Zwierzoczłekoupiór (1969; The Anthropos-Spectre-Beast). His later books—including Kompleks polski (1977; The Polish Complex), the bitterly mocking Mała apokalipsa (1979; A Minor Apocalypse), and the lyrical Bohiń (1987; Bohin Manor)—confront Poland’s social cataclysms of the late 1970s and the ’80s. The autobiographical Wschody i zachody ksiżyca (1981; Moonrise, Moonset) recounts some of Konwicki’s experiences during the period of martial law in Poland.

Filmography:

1958 Ostatni dzień lata / The Last Day of Summer

1961 Zaduszki / All Souls' Day

1965 Matura (nowela w produkcji niemiecko–francusko–polskiej Augenblick des Friedens) / Abitur (a story in Augenblick Des Friedens)

1965 Salto 

1971 Jak daleko stąd, jak blisko / How Far from Here, How Close

1982 Dolina Issy / The Issa Valley

1989 Lawa / Lava. The Story of Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady