Krzysztof Kieslowski

(1941—1996) Polish film director

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Polish film maker critically acclaimed as one of Europe's most imaginative directors.

Born in Warsaw, Kiéslowski studied at the School of Cinema and Theatre in Łódź before starting to work as a director in Polish television. He won prizes in Cracow and Moscow, respectively, for his television film First Love (1974) and his feature film Camera Buff (1979) before embarking on his masterwork, the Decalogue series for television. A contemporary reworking of the Ten Commandments, it consists of ten short films set in a Warsaw housing complex. Two of these films were released in the cinema, A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love (both 1988). The former, which graphically depicts the apparently motiveless murder of a taxi-driver and the subsequent execution of his killer, so impressed the jury at the Cannes Film Festival that Kiéslowski was awarded the prize for best director.

In 1992 the National Society of Film Critics in New York voted Kiéslowski's The Double Life of Véronique best foreign film. Depicting the parallel lives of a Polish singer, Veronika, and her French double, Véronique, this film consolidated Kiéslowski's international reputation as an innovative film maker. The following year his Three Colours: Blue shared the top prize at the fiftieth Venice Film Festival with Robert Altman's Short Cuts. The Three Colours project, like the Decalogue venture, was a schematic exploration of an abstract ethical theme, in this case the values of the French Revolution represented by the tricolour – liberty, equality, fraternity. Blue (1993), starring Juliette Binoche, winner of the best actress award, explored the notion of personal freedom. In 1994 Three Colours: White won Kiéslowski the best director award at Berlin, while Three Colours: Red was nominated for three Academy Awards (including best director).

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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