Andrzej Wajda was a film and theatre director, a screenwriter and a scenographer. He was one of the most distinguished and renowned filmmakers in the history of the world cinema and an Honorary Oscar winner. He was born on 6 March 1926 in Suwałki. During his childhood and the first years of adulthood he lived in Suwałki, and then – after his father’s, a professional Polish Army officer, transfer – in Radom, where he spent the war years, attended underground courses and studied in a private painting school for a short period of time. At the same time he worked as a storeman, porter, cooper, locksmith and draftsman in a railway office. He studied painting at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (1946–1950) and then directing at the National Film School in Łódź.
Between 1972 and 1983 he ran the X Film Studio. Between 1978 and 1983 he was the president (later the honorary president) of the Polish Filmmakers Association and between 1978 and 1981 – the president of the Polish Federation for Discussion Film Clubs (the honorary president after 1981). Since 1977 he was an honorary member of the Polish Stage Artists’ Association (ZPAP) and since 1989 – a member of the Cinema of Poland Committee. He was the founder of Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing and Wajda Studio that have been operating in Warsaw since 2002. As a theatre director he was closely connected with the National Stary Theatre in Karków. Between 1989 and 1990 he ran the Powszechny Theatre. He was the initiator and founder (for the Kyoto Award he received in 1987) of the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Kraków, opened in 1994 r. In 1988 he became a member of the Solidarity Citizen’s Committee where he was responsible for chairing the culture and mass media board. Between 1989 and 1991 he was a senator in the Senate of the Republic of Poland.
In 2011 Andrzej Wajda was awarded with the Order of the White Eagle “for his outstanding merits for the Polish culture, his achievements in the artistic field and promoting Polish filmmaking in the world”. He was also awarded with the National Order of the Legion of Honour (Grand Cross and Commander) as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He was the co-founder, president and lecturer at the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing and Wajda Studio in Warsaw. He is an honorary member of the British Academy of Film and Theatre Arts (BAFTA), a member of the Institut de France in Paris and a member of the European Film Academy. He also holds honorary degrees from the universities in Bologna, Lyon, Brussels, Moscow and Washington. He is the laureate of the Outstanding Pole 2014 competition.
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Photo CC: Andrzej Wajda in 1974 on the set of “The Promised Land”.