One of the leading figures in contemporary European cinema, Krzysztof Zanussi is not just key figure in the post-war Polish “cinema of moral anxiety,” but a true man of culture.
Born in 1939 and educated in physics and philosophy, Zanussi turned to cinema in 1966 and made his first film shortly thereafter. In 1980, he became the artistic director, producer, and eventually president of one of Poland’s top state-owned studios, Tor, which went on to produce more than 90 feature-length films by a long list of distinguished cineastes. His own work, of which today’s presentation is perhaps the best-known, has won major prizes at Cannes, Venice, Leipzig, and international festivals in Russia and outside the west.
In addition to his cinematic career, Zanussi has also directed plays from Euripides to Shakespeare to Stoppard in theatres across Europe. He also has a long-standing passion for music, directing the staging of operas by Stravinsky and Poulenc in Poland, Italy, and Switzerland, and making documentary films about Chopin, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, and other composers for Polish television.
Zanussi is also a long-time educator, lecturing at Cambridge, Columbia, Yale, and other universities around the world, and serves as a member of the European Film Academy, PEN, and the Pontifical Commission of Culture. He holds multiple state prizes and awards, several honorary doctoral degrees, and was the subject of a documentary film in 2004.