Literature and film

Krakow is a thriving film centre, with wonderful interiors and well-equipped studios able to carry out every stage of film production. Due to the city’s role in Polish history, it seems quite natural that Andrzej Wajda decided to shoot Katyń here, and Steven Spielberg set Schindler’s List in Krakow. Petr Zelenka, who shot Karamazovi in the halls of the Nowa Huta conglomerate plant, was delighted with the cool industrial beauty of the factory, steel, and machines. Krakow “played a part” in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Double Life of Véronique and in a number of films about the Polish Pope. Krakow captured in the film frame has always interested Polish filmmakers as well – let us just mention Wojciech Has’ The Hour-Glass Sanatorium based on Bruno Schulz’s oneiric story, My City, and the famous Saragossa Manuscript.

Oscar winner Andrzej Wajda, connected with Krakow, is counted among the eminent representatives of the so-called Polish Film School. Many of Wajda’s works – also theatre works – were produced in Krakow. Z biegiem lat, z biegiem dni… (Over the Course of the Years, Over the Course of the Days…), a performance created on the basis of over a dozen texts of the national modernist literature, became a several hour long show portraying Krakow’s burghers of the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries. Wajda was also the first director in Poland to give the role of Hamlet to a woman (premiere at Teatr Stary on the 30th of June 1989). Both the stage production itself and the title role of Teresa Budzisz-Krzyżanowska went down in the history of world theatre.  The city also owes one of the most interesting of its museums – the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology to this outstanding film and theatre director, (along with his wife Krystyna Zachwatowicz, he donated the entire amount of the Kyoto Prize he received in Japan in recognition of his film and theatre works for this purpose).

For years, the greatest celebrities of the screen have visited Krakow, including: Márta Mészáros (who stayed in Krakow and lived here for a long time), Darren Aronofsky, Aki Kaurismäki, Nanni Moretti, Jerzy Skolimowski, Wim Wenders, and Andrzej Żuławski with Sophie Marceau. The Krakow film environment has also hosted Agnieszka Holland, Terry Jones was welcomed by the Krakow Monty Python team, and Bo Widerberg was taken for a horse-carriage ride around the town by Jerzy Stuhr. At the height of their artistic work, Marcel Łoziński, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mike Leigh, Werner Herzog, Claude Lelouch, and others presented their works in Krakow.

Cinematography fans may select freely from the rich calendar of film events, to mention but the most important ones: one of the oldest festivals in Europe dedicated to documentaries, animated films, and short feature films, i.e. the Krakow Film Festival (first organised in 1961), the Etiuda & Anima International Film Festival, the OFAFA Polish National Original Animated Film Festival, and the Silent Cinema Festival. The recently opened Krakow Screenplay School, combining film industry and literature also operates here.

The management of the film capital of the city and region was entrusted to the Krakow Festival Office, in the structures of which the Krakow Film Commission and the Regional Film Fund operate. The Office is also a co-organiser of the Off Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema and the organiser of the Film Music Festival in Krakow.

There are several dozen companies of a film production and post-production profile in the city and its vicinity, boasting a noticeable position on the international market. The most interesting ones are Gremi Film Production S.A. and Alvernia Studios – a modern complex near Krakow, equipped with means enabling them to complete even the most complex productions. More and more often, the city becomes the setting for international productions, such as: Aazaan (directed by Prashant Chadha), Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (directed by Shree Narayan Singh), and The Rhythm (directed by Vivek Kumar).

Many film adaptations of literature are also produced in Krakow, among them: Obława (Manhunt) (directed by Marcin Krzyształowicz, 2012), Uwikłanie (directed by Jacek Bromski, 2011) based on Zygmunt Miłoszewski’s novel, Mistyfikacja (directed by Jacek Koprowicz, 2010) based on Witkacy’s biography, Mała matura 1947 (The Rite of Passage) (directed by Janusz Majewski, 2010), and Anioł (Angel) directed by Wojciech Smarzowski, shot on the basis of Jerzy Pilch’s novel Pod Mocnym Aniołem (The Mighty Angel) (the premiere is planned for the beginning of 2014).

The Krakow Festival Office is also the producer of the documentary entitled Widok Krakowa (A View of Krakow) directed by Magdalena Piekorz with the participation of Adam Zagajewski. In the film, constituting an episode of the international “City (W)rites” series, the poet talks about his connections with the city. The Planeta Miłosz (The Miłosz Planet) film, directed by Katarzyna Gondek according to the screenplay by Andrzej Franaszek, author of the Nobel Prize winner’s monumental biography, talks about Czesław Miłosz. As part of the Krakow: the City of Literature project, also a library of interviews with outstanding creators of literature – “Writers in Motion” – is being created.