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Pawel Pawlikowski Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (11)  | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (3)

Born in Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland
Birth NamePawel Pawlikowski
Height 6' 1½" (1.87 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A literature and philosophy graduate, with extensive post-graduate work at Oxford on German literature, Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski started as a documentary filmmaker in British television.

His second feature, Last Resort (2000), earned him international critical acclaim at numerous festivals, including Toronto and Sundance, and won the 2001 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for "Most Promising Newcomer in British Film."

His next film, My Summer of Love (2004), won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards in 2005.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: CAA

Spouse (1)

Malgorzata Bela (2017 - present)

Trivia (11)

In 2004 became Creative Arts Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, following a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. Pawlikowski will spend three years at the University, undertaking research into the realist genres of contemporary film-making in Britain, and interacting with staff and students on the University's new degree in Film Studies.
His top ten films include (in alphabetical order): Ashes and Diamonds (1958), Loves of a Blonde (1965), Cul-De-Sac (1966), Days of Heaven (1978), La Dolce Vita (1960), Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (1981), The Mirror (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Some Like It Hot (1959), Taxi Driver (1976).
While studying at Oxford University, he met his professor's wife Halina Wolinska-Brus. He thought she was a very kind funny old lady. As it turned out though, that Polish immigrant had been after the war a brutal Stalinist prosecutor, who had been sentencing many innocent people with death penalty. Wolinska-Brus was later used by Pawlikowski as a prototype for the character of Bloody Wanda in his movie "Ida".
His paternal grandmother was Polish-Jewish and died in Auschwitz. Pawel learned about it from his father as a grown-up. This must have been a shocking news for him as he had been baptised and raised Catholic by his deeply religious mother.
His mother was Catholic and worked as an English teacher at the University of Warsaw. His father worked as a doctor and was a Polish-Jewish atheist and patriot who taught him respect for Polish history. Soon after the parents split up, his father was forced to leave his beloved Poland due to antisemitic cleansing of 1968. At first, he went to Austria, and then moved to Germany where he would later reunite with Pawel's mother. Meanwhile, in 1971 Pawel moved with his mother abroad. He lived briefly in Germany, Italy and France. However, he's spent most of his life (nearly 30 years) in England.
His wife was a Russian immigrant pianist who was diagnosed with severe cancer in 2006 while he was busy working on "The Restraint of Beasts". When Pawel learned about his wife's terminal illness, he abandoned the project and stayed with her until she died. He quit directing for 5 years to take care of their children until their graduation.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in 2015. The jury chose From Afar (2015) as the winner of the Golden Lion.
Head of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 59th BFI London Film Festival in 2015.
Chairman of the 'Official Competition' jury at the Reykjavik International Film Festival in 2005. The jury chose The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) as the winner.
His Ida (2013) was the first Polish movie to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Nominated for a 2019 Academy Award in the Best Director category for his work on Cold War (2018) but lost to Alfonso Cuarón for Roma (2018).

Personal Quotes (8)

I'm not a professional filmmaker, it's just a little part of my life and it's not how I define myself. It's not really important whether I make the film in Poland, England or wherever. The films are always the result of where I am, what I've discovered and what's in my head.
I don't see filmmaking as a career, in that I've never tried to "graduate" to big commercial movies. I always just made films about what interested me at the time - for better and worse, because sometimes that really didn't interest anybody else!
[on his process] The changes are part of my writing process. When I write, I imagine scenes. I write things down. I take photographs. I do some casting. I rewrite. It's a permanent making or remaking. I wanted to make the kind of film which is like a meditation more than a story, which has these kinds of faces that convey the mood of Poland at that moment, but is also a bigger parable about stuff. I wanted a film that was musical, not that it's got a lot of music in it, but that has a kind of musical shape to it, and that's not prosaically narrative but has its own rhythm. It's exactly the kind of film that I wanted to make but not in details. It's more like I know where I'm going.[2014]
[on his career] When I watch my early documentaries, they're very eclectic. They don't follow any particular [pattern]. I would have gotten thrown out of film school because I didn't [follow any pattern]. I was just putting them together somehow as the spirit moved me, following my nose, thinking I was brilliant. Now, I look at them and they're just so uneven. I like them all because they're about something and they're kind of original, but they're pretty uneven. From film to film, even documentaries, I was learning the medium and learning how to bring form into some kind of relationship with the content, how to work it, and above all, how to create some kind of order out of chaos. I'm a pretty chaotic person, but I'm also a perfectionist. (...) I never made films like kind of career moves, like making this film in order to make that film in order to end up in Hollywood. It was more like what's on my mind now. It was more like where is my brain now, or my heart, or whatever. They're all part of some kind of, for better or for worse, journey. Even the bad ones, or the less successful ones let's say, I know exactly why they happened like this and why they are like they are. I stayed an amateur who needed to live a bit in order to make films. I don't need to be on the set and just keep churning out films. I definitely don't want to shoot some scripts that are given me. For me, each film, each script is like a little journey in itself, and I'm reinventing the wheel. It's like how do I make this film. That's part of the pleasure and that's why I'm not a normal professional director.[2014]
[on future projects] Now I'm going to make three other films, but like I always do. I'll jump between them and wait for the moment where one of them will have these elements like three characters and landscape and some kind of gut feeling that this is worth spending a year and a half or two years of my life on. Just like when I was doing Ida, I was doing three different projects and waiting for this moment when the critical mass came together.[2014]
[on winning the 1st 'Best Foreign Language Film' Academy Award for Poland with Ida (2013)] It's really fantastic. We have a great tradition of films but no Oscars so this feels really great. I hope it encourages the world to look at Polish cinema again and other filmmakers to take risks and do something that's a bit original and brave. I hope this is [an] encouragement. For the film is about different versions of Polishness. But it's about all sorts of things. Faith, identity, sense of guilt, Stalinism too, lost ideals, and it's about jazz and rock 'n' roll. I didn't want to make a film for one reason.[2015]
[on his biography] I lived a pretty chaotic life. I went to England and I moved around, and there were a lot of things that I was interested in. I wrote poetry. I took photographs. I was a musician and all sorts of things. Nothing brilliant, but I did all these different things. Usually, when you say that you did all these different things, it's quite good when you can synthesize them in cinema, because cinema uses all these things. Also, it's also knowledge about photography, about human psychology, and other things. But, to be more specific, I never went to film school. I actually studied literature and philosophy. So, when I started making films, I didn't really know what I was doing, and I was too proud and arrogant to learn.[2014]
Let's be honest: Ida (2013) had no commercial prospects, even in festivals, because I know how hard it is for Polish films to break into Cannes, Venice and Berlin. When I said that I was doing the film in Poland - in Polish and in black and white - my friends decided that I was committing professional hara-kiri. [2015]

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