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Krzysztof Zanussi - Biography

Krzysztof Zanussi is a renowned Polish filmmaker. Krzysztof was born in 1939 in Warsaw, Poland. He is a professor at the Silesian University (Katówice), and professor of European Film at the European Graduate School EGS. Krzysztof Zanussi runs the TOR Film Studios based in Poland.

Krzysztof Zanussi was educated in Poland at several of the most prestigious Polish universities; he studied philosophy at Jagiellonian University (Katówice), physics at Warsaw University, and took his degree in film direction at the Lodz Film School. He directed his first feature film, The Structure of Crystal, in 1969. Since then, he has directed many feature films, documentaries, and television features.

One of Krzysztof Zanussi's early successes was the film Illuminacja (1973). In this work, Krzysztof Zanussi integrated his knowledge of physics and philosophy into a story of the struggle to find meaning in a world which has become increasingly abstract and numerical, and in which the subject has become progressively alienated from her/his world. The film tells the story of Franciszek, who is split between the cold, analytical worldview of physical science and a more intimate relation to the world through a love affair with a young lady, Agnieszka. When Franciszek falls in love with Agnieszka, and the two decide to marry after it is discovered that she is pregnant, the tension between his two worlds threatens to pull him apart. The title of the film refers to the moment when the brain is able to see directly into the truth at a particular moment, an indication of the Enlightenment philosophy underlying the modern view of truth.

Krzysztof Zanussi's films have appeared internationally, and he has received many awards: the OCIC Award at the Berlin International Film Festival; the Jury Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival; the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival; the David di Donatello Award; the FIPRESCI Prize and the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival; and the Golden St. George Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Strictly Film School’s website writes of the work of Krzysztof:

Krzysztof Zanussi presents a compassionate, insightful, and provocative examination of the moral issues that present themselves in everyday life. Using variations of a recurring opening shot through a view from a window, Zanussi sets a tone of personal reflection as the protagonists in each episode attempt to reconcile with their own human frailty: vengeance and forgiveness (A Woman's Business), greed (Deceptive Charm), absence of spirituality (Little Faith), obsession and jealousy (The Dilatory Line), compassion (The Soul Sings), sense of fairness (Unwritten Law), narcissism and emotional abandonment (The Last Circle), humility and service (The Hidden Treasure). Throughout each episode, Zanussi provides a compelling portrait of contemporary Poland, from the vestigial scars of life under shifting communist policies, to an increasingly impersonal and materialistic urban society. Inevitably, Weekend Stories proves to be a compelling and universally relevant glimpse into the quiet celebration and travails of modern existence.

Krzysztof Zanussi has directed the following feature films: Struktura krysztalu / The Structure of Crystal (1969), Illuminacja (1973), Pittsville – Ein Safe voll Blut (1974), Bilans kwartalny (1975), Brigitte Horney (1977), Barwy ochronne (1977), Spirala (1978), Constans (1980), From a Far Country (1981), Imperativ (1982), Rok spokojnego slonca (1984), Paradigma (1985), Wygasle czasy (1987), Wherever You Are... (1988), Stan posiadania (1989), Zycie za zycie (1991), Lyuk (1991), Dotkniecie reki (1992), Cwal (1996), Our God's Brother (1997), Zycie jako smiertelna choroba przenoszona droga plciowa / Life As a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease (2000), Suplement (2002), Persona non grata (2005), Il sole nero (2007), Serce na dloni (2008), and Rewizyta (2009).

Krysztof Zanussi said in a lecture at Hunter College on February 20, 2009.

Some of you have seen the film of my good colleague Roman Polansky the pianist. I knew the character.The secret of his survival was that he was absolutely fixing men. He did not perceive what was happening around. That's why he survived. It is not more present in the field. It is more present in his writing because in the field you see what is surrounding him. But had he been more open to the world, he would have died. He would have committed suicide seeing what happened to his family, to other Jews, to other people in his city. Fortunately, he had this very narrow vision that some musicians and mathematicians sometimes have. So his own perception of his own life was very inadequate and that is why he survived. And of course actor who is acting had the very same challenge. He had to react in a very limited way and not in a way that probably most of you have reacted ... so it is not really necessary to have this experience but to have imagination, to have fantasy. And if your fantasy is strong and it leads you, you may be inspired actor and play even extra-terrestrial in convincing way. None of us have experience at being extra-terrestrial unless I don't recognize you.

Krzysztof Zanussi was a professor of European film at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducted an Intensive Summer Workshop.

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