Trieste Contemporanea 1998 september n.5
The 50th anniversary of a famous Institution
Studying Cinema: Lódz Film School

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To understand more properly the film production coming from Central and Eastern European countries, which still nowadays continues to be amazing since its debut works for the high level of professionality and quality of any format and genre (from feature to medium and short film, from animation to experimental films and videos) and the excellent work of the actors, we need to focus our attention to the great tradition of film didactics which characterizes this European area. If we take a look at the filmographies we soon realize that all film directors, actors, photographers and art directors have attended one of the serious film schools (mostly state film schools and at least one in each country, even in Albania), which have become important centres, attracting many students, even from foreign countries. FAMU, Prague; Balász Béla Stúdió, Budapest; Panstowa Wyzsza Szkola Filmowa, Telewizyjna i Teatralna di Lódz, l'Akademia Dramske Umjetnosti di Zagabria, l'Akademija za gledalisce, radio, film in televizijo di Lubiana, la Hochschule für Fernsehen, und Film, Munich; the Animation School of Zagreb; Pannonia Film Studio, Budapest; the Czech Animation School "A. Barrandov", just to remember the most famous ones, have formed important artists who then belonged to the international cinema heritage (Kieslowski, Munk, Wajda, Zanussi, Szabo, Jancsó, Papic, Gyöngyössy, Nemec, Kawalerowicz, Wenders, Kluge, Herzog, Reitz,...). "Trieste Contemporanea" will offer through its magazine some useful information concerning these didactics centres, starting from the Lódz Film School, celebrating this year its 50th anniversary of its important and continuous activity.

The National Film, Television and Theatre School of Lódz, celebrating this year its 50th anniversary- it was founded in 1948-, has been an important education centre for the greatest Polish film-makers and a pivotal cultural centre for the whole country. At the end of the Second World War Lódz was the only large Polish town that war had not destroyed, unlike Warsaw.The creation of the National Film School gave to the town a role of higher importance from the cultural point of view, which before the war had belonged exclusively to Warsaw and Krakow. The lyrical and prose theatres, the cabarets, the cinemas started up again, attracting once more the actors, performers and directors that the war had dispersed. Thus Lódz became the new centre of Polish film production, with its own studios and its own film school. At the beginning the school focussed its didactics into two distinct departments: film directing and cinematography. Initially the tuition programme was limited to small, simple group productions, but soon films made by individual students began to emerge, and they were always shot on the professional standard 35 mm format. Among the first students who attend the School were the directors Andrzej Munk, Andrzej Wajda, Janusz Morgenstern- who at the end of the Fifties became famous as one of the founders of the "Polish School" of cinematography, together with Jerzy Wójcik, Witold Sobocinski, Mieczyslaw Jahoda, Wieslaw Zdort and Adam Holender. Immediately after the war Jerzy Bossak, Wanda Jakubowska, Stanislaw Wohl, Antoni Bohdziewicz and Jerzy Toeplitz were the first teachers. Among the most talented students who attended the School in the Fifties Roman Polanski has to be mentioned. In 1958 he was awarded for his diploma film Two Men and a Wardrobe at the International Exhibition of Bruxelles. After the political changes in 1956 the Polish film production developed rapidly, thus influencing and giving new stimula to the Lódz Film School. An original teaching programme, developed by Jerzy Toeplitz - who became rector of the School in 1957 -, was put into practice. This new teaching programme stood out from other educational methods because it combined coherently the theoretical part and the practical aspect, trying to develop and underline the personality of each student. In 1958 the Film School and the Theatre School were unified , to become effectively one institution. Since then the Acting Department has become an integral part of the School. In those years the School had a central role in the Polish Avant Garde and its existence had a powerful impact on the cultural life all over the country. It was the Lódz Film School which gave a real boost to the development of jazz - a forbidden music! - in Poland, since one of the most famous film-makers, Jerzy Sobocinski, was also a well-known jazzman at that time. Also Jerzy Matuszkiewicz used to play the piano and the saxophone. They formed the first Polish jazzband. In the Sixties the School was attended by young students who then achieved a great success also on an international level, such as Krzysztof Zanussi, Jerzy Skolimowski, Edward Zebrowski, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Marcel Lozinski, and the operators Slawomir Idziak and Edward Klosinski. In 1968 professor Toeplitz, together with other colleagues, left the school. The School went through a difficult period, but it did not yield to political pressure. At the beginning of the Seventies Wojciech Has started teaching at the School and Jerzy Bossak and Wanda Jakubowska returned for a while. Also among the students of those years there were some men who later became famous: Andrzej Baranski, Ryszard Bugajski, Feliks Falk, Filip Bajon, Piotr Szulkin, Juliusz Machulski, Janusz Kijowski, Dorota Kedzierzawska, Jakub Kolski, Mariusz Grzegorzek, Jolanta Dylewska and many other directors who revitalized the Polish feature film industry. At the end of the Seventies the School developed wider international contacts and some students began to attend international film festivals, winning important awards in Cannes, Oberhausen, Mannheim, Munich, Tel-Aviv, Angers, Poitiers, Edinburgh and Krakow.


The teaching programme has always consisted of a theoretical, a technical and a practical part, consisting of exercises made by both directing and camera students. The practical aspect has always been considered to be the most important one. The teaching is designed to be a meaningful and co-operative experience between lecturers and students. The lecturers try to help the students to find artistic and technical solutions for their works. At the same time the students are free to choose the subject, the locations, the editing, the sound. The teachers start following the students' films from the script stage to the production and the editing of the film. The Cinematography Department lecturers teach film lighting technology, film exposure and photography. Most teachers work as professionals also in the "real" world of the television and film industry. Theoretical subjects include Film History, History of Art, Film Theory, Film Music and Copyright. Technological subjects include seminars and practical exercises with the students of the Acting department, Art Direction, Sound Technology, Film Editing and Screenplay Writing. All students works, including camera exercises, are done on film. Television works are done at a separate TV studio equipped with studio cameras. Television recordings are made on the U-Matic High Band System, while for the documentary films S-VHS cameras and editing facilities are used. The School has its own equipment, which includes 35mm cameras, lighting equipment, editing rooms with 35mm editing tables and a sound studio equipped with Niagra recorders, mixing tables and film projectors. In addition the School has two screening rooms for 35mm and 16mm format and a video multi-system screening room. There are also an Archive with a large collection of all the past student films and the films used for the practical exercises; a Library with one of the largest collections of film books in Poland, enriched by a collection of CD's. Besides the School has a Student Hostel and a Canteen.


The National Film School has several departments: Television and Film Directing, Cinematography (including Animation Cinema) and the Acting Department. The courses last four years and students graduate with an M.A. Degree. There is also a two-year course in Film and Television Production Managing, a three-year course for professionals who are already working in television; a two-year course in Photography and a two-year course in Screenplay Writing. There are 131 students studying Directing and many of them come from foreign countries such as denmark, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, Venezuela, Switzerland, U.S.A., Germany and others. The Acting Department is attended by 78 students. The Lódz Film School is the only school of this kind in Poland. It is financed by the State and is directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Art and Culture and by the National Education Ministry. Polish students do not have to pay for their enrolment, while foreign students have to pay a fee. The School organizes several screenings in Poland and abroad, as well as symposiums and meetings. For years the School has been organizing a Film Festival and since 1994 it has been organizing the International Student Film Festival, "MEDIASCHOOL", which attracts many students from foreign countries. The School is a full member of CILECT - "Centre International de Liaisons des Ecoles de Cinéma", the world organization of film schools. Henryk Kluba, the Rector of the Lódz Film School, has been working there for 45 years. "At first I was a student - he explains - then a tutor and after my first film, Skinny and the Others, in 1966, I was literally forced to become actively involved in the courses and the activities of the School, even if I did not need much convincing", beacuse he was "always one for theories". Kluba thinks that the School has changed a lot in these last years and also the teaching methods have been transformed. In the past film directing was not given special treatment . The School was not mature enough at the time to offer separate courses on the subject. Today the teaching is based on three core elements. The first is production and editing, the second is a course on screenplay and the third is acting. The most important course is film directing, but a student is also expected to prepare a TV show or a theatre play. Kluba says that the young directors and operators should continue to draw their inspiration from the rich tradition of the past of the Film School, but at the same time using the new technologies and the new forms of artistic expression they produce, such as music videoclips, TV spots, and so on..

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

Panstowa Wyzsza Szkola Filmova Telewizyjna i Teatralna
ul. Targowa 61/63 90-323 Lódz- PL
tel.: ++48 42 6743943/6748088 fax.: ++48 42 6748139
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