Are you a young artist? Read about the famous National Film School in Łódź!
The Film School in Łódź is one of the oldest film academies in the world and one of the best in Europe! It educated legendary Polish artists such as Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polański and Andrzej Munk. In the 1950s and 1960s, Polish films were made that are appreciated all over the world, and their authors were the graduates of the Film School in Łódź.
Film School in Łódź
The official name of the school is currently the Leon Schiller National Film School. However, it is commonly referred to as the Film School in Łódź and everyone knows this name. The Film School in Łódź is famous in the country and abroad – many Polish and foreign students come to Łódź especially to study at this university, because of its illustrious history and talented graduates over so many years. The reputation of the school is emphasised by numerous successes of the directors and actors who graduated from it.
A short history of the Film School in Łódź
The Film School in Łódź was established in 1958 as a result of a merger of two other units – the Film School, which had already been operating for ten years, and the State Higher School of Acting, established in 1949. Why were the post-war film institutes and universities established in Łódź? The conditions in Warsaw were not suitable, because it was still in the reconstruction phase after the destruction of World War II.
The Film School in Łódź has been a pioneering concept from the very beginning, because before the war there was no film school in Poland that would educate directors, actors or other experts in the field of theatre and film at the university level. Leon Schiller, who is now the school’s patron, was the first rector of the acting school, which was later merged with the directing school. In turn, in the first years of the directing school, before it was merged with the acting university, its reputation developed, because there were such future legends of Polish cinema as Andrzej Wajda, Kazimierz Kutz, Andrzej Munk and Janusz Morgenstern – the creators of the so-called Polish Film School. In 1954 Roman Polański started attending the school.
After the merger of the two universities in 1958, perhaps the most famous period of its activity began, and the school was a kind of laboratory for modern art, where not only film and theatre activities developed, but also music, painting and literature. The vivid discussions about artistic and world-view issues held in the breaks between classes are shrouded in legend. Many students revolved around the charismatic Roman Polański – a group of actors, cinematographers and musicians was created, and the participants developed their careers abroad.
Film School in Łódź today
Currently, the Film School strongly focuses on practical classes. It educates directors, screenwriters, editors, operators, film production managers, animators, photographers and actors. The students learn the theory and history of culture and art in order to develop in a comprehensive manner. They have the latest generation equipment at their disposal, such as digital cameras and sound and lighting equipment, and they also learn the profession while practising on real film sets.
Polish films from the 1950s and 1960s you simply have to watch
The history of Polish filmography – where to start? We recommend some of the most famous films in Poland from the 1950s and 1960s shot by the graduates of the Film School in Łódź. For students from Łódź, these films are a must-know canon!
- Kanał [Sewer] by Andrzej Wajda. A war film from 1956. It is about the Warsaw Uprising, and the script is based on the story of the same title by Jerzy Stefan Stawiński. The film shows the final moments of the uprising – lieutenant “Zadra” tries to evacuate his unit to Śródmieście through underground sewers.
- Popiół i diament [Ashes and Diamonds] by Andrzej Wajda. A film drama from 1958 based on the novel by Jerzy Andrzejewski of the same title. The action takes place in 1945, right after the war. The protagonist is a former soldier of the Home Army, who works in the anti-communist underground and receives an order to liquidate the local party secretary. However, he has doubts about obeying the order.
- Pociąg [Night Train] by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. The film from 1959 tells the story of the passengers of a night train travelling from Warsaw to Hel, focusing on a meteorologist and a surgeon travelling in the same compartment. At the same time, the police are looking for an escaped killer on a train who has a reserved ticket in the same compartment as the main protagonists. The film won a technical award at the Venice Film Festival, and Lucyna Winnicka was also awarded for the leading role.
- Cień [Shadow] by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. A sensational war film from 1956, based on a short story by Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski. It tells the story of a couple who, when travelling by car, notice a man jumping out of a train. Despite being resuscitated, the man dies in hospital, and meeting different people becomes the basis for remembering the tragic war years and the period right after the war.
- Eroica by Andrzej Munk. The 1957 film, which premiered at the beginning of 1958, consists of two separate 40-minute stories – Scherzo alla polacca and Ostinato lugubre. The first story tells about the fate of a liaison officer from the time of the Warsaw Uprising who mediates between Polish and Hungarian forces after Poles detained Hungarians near Warsaw. The second part of the film shows the fate of Polish officers in the German oflag.
- Pasażerka [The Passenger] by Andrzej Munk. The 1963 film is Munk’s last unfinished work before his premature death in a car accident in 1961. It was edited by Witold Lesiewicz. It is divided into the contemporary times and the second part from the World War II. During the transatlantic voyage, a former SS overseer notices her former prisoner from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. The film won a Special Mention at the 17th Cannes IFF and was the official Polish candidate for an Oscar. It is also the last drama included in the Polish Film School.
Basecamp for artists in Łódź
If you are a young artist starting your studies in Łódź, we recommend living in one of the two Basecamp private dormitories. The new, modernist dormitory was opened in 2020 at ul. Rembielińskiego. It is a convenient location for students of the Film School in Łódź. The rooms offer a very high standard, and each student has access to a gym, a quiet study room and a projection room. It is also possible to rent bicycles.