The theatre director, filmmaker, scriptwriter and set designer Andrzej Wajda is one of the most important artists of Polish cinema history. Born in March 1926 in Suwalki, Wajda studied at Crakow's Academy of Fine Arts. Throughout his career he has been mingling theatre with cinema. His frescos with epic notions in romantic atmospheres break with the spirit of social realist propaganda. In his works he tackles important historical events, denouncing hatred and political servility, while simultaneously glorifying self-denial and commitment to great humanist affairs. By defying censure, he remained one of the leading artists and moral instances of his nation, not only before the communist era, but also after. In 2000, he was awarded an honorary Oscar.
Andrzej Wajda’s theatre career took off in 1959, when he worked for the Theatre of Gdynia; he then joined Crakow’s Stary Theatre in 1963. Wajda also collaborated with several theatres outside Poland. From the 70s on, he was regarded as one of the leading theatre artists of his country. He was not afraid to tackle political issues, neither in his plays, nor in his films. His version of Sophocles’ Antigone (staged in 1984 at the Crakow’s Stary Theatre), for example, was performed when Poland was under siege. In 1989, he chose a female actress to interpret the role of “Hamlet” (Teresa Budzisz-Krzyzanowska) and a Japanese Kabuki expert (Tamasaburo Bando from Tokyo’s Benisan Theatre) to play Nastazja in the 1994 film with the same name.
Andrzej Wajda passes away on 9 October 2016 in Warsaw.