Jerzy Skolimowski

Actor, Director

5/5/1938 (83 years old)

Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the most original and innovative of the eastern European filmmakers. He is also one of the few to find success in the West. As a youth, the talented Skolimowski published several short stories, two poetry volumes, and was a jazz musician. At the University of Warsaw, he studied anthropology, history, and literature. He entered films after a chance encounter with renowned director Andrzej Wajda. Skolimowski helped him write the script for Innocent Sorcerers (1960). Then, with Wajda's help, he enrolled in the Film School at Lodz where he and classmate Roman Polanski wrote the script for the latter's debut feature Knife in the Water (1962). It took Skolimowski four years to make his own first feature, Identification Marks: None (1964), a combination of several short student films starring himself as an anti-hero -- a figure that would appear in many subsequent films, which centered on his society's youthful outsiders, and contained strong political messages as in Hands Up! (1967), an anti-Stalinist film that was banned and not shown in the West until 1981 at Cannes. He gained international renown for his 1967 film Le Depart, which won the Golden Bear award at that year's Berlin Film Festival. An invitation to make a western European film The Adventures of Gerard a big-budget British-Swiss production that featured an all-star cast ensued. Unfortunately, the film was neither indicative of the director's real talent, nor was it commercially successful. In subsequent films Skolimowski has matured into a formidable talent with works such as Deep End (1970), and The Shout (1978). His most commercially successful film is Moonlighting (1982), a penetrating look into the origins of political repression inspired by the declaration of martial law in Poland in December 1981.