When Pawel Pawlikowski’s collaborators were asked to define his work, they said that he writes his films with his camera, just like a writer writes with his pen. Although Pawlikowski’s films are indeed not silent, and his dialogues are meticulously written, what really drives the plot, characters, and drama are the visuals, the moving images. This is cinema in every sense of the word, and Pawlikowski is a filmmaker in the most classical and pure sense, as only a handful of filmmakers are today.
Pawlikowski also serves as a sort of historian of the Polish nation, who has rewritten its history and reconstructed its mythology in his last two feature films, both of which made an immense impact and were both critically and publicly acclaimed in Poland and abroad: Ida (2013) and Cold War (2018), most probably the greatest Polish films of the past decade.
But these films also have a universal quality to them, and Pawlikowski is in general an artist who is constantly testing new boundaries. Born and raised in Poland, he has been living in England for years, and it was there that he broke out with the highly regarded English-speaking features, such as Last Resort (2000) and My Summer of Love (2004).
While over the past two decades, Pawlikowski’s focus has been on feature films, the versatile director actually started out as a documentarian with several documentaries made in the 1980s and 90s that showcased his signature lyricism and poetics, later developed in his feature films in collaboration with the actors he had a natural ability to discover, cast, instruct, and nurture. Today, an impressive list of professionals can say that they took their first steps with Pawlikowski.
Beyond screenwriting and directing, Pawlikowski is also the cinematographer of his films. He treats each frame with great respect, fully engaged in its creation. His films are love letters to love itself, to history, and humanity, but above all, they are infused with a passion for the big screen and the wonderous possibilities it holds.