Bolesław Michałek was one of the most-important Polish film experts and critics. The Kino magazine gives out the annual Bolesław Michałek Award for the best Polish film book of the year. He was the winner of the Karol Irzykowski Award in 1959, 1969 and 1977, and also worked as a film scriptwriter.
Michałek was born on 12 June 1925 in Toruń. He was the co-creator of the movement referred to as “the cinema of moral anxiety” and directly influenced the shape of the production policy of Polish cinema in the 1970s and 1980s as the Artistic Director of two film studios: Andrzej Wajda’s Zespół Filmowy “X” and Krzysztof Zanussi’s Studio Filmowe “Tor”. Some magnificent works, such as Ziemia obiecana/The Promised Land, Człowiek z marmuru/Man of Marble, Człowiek z żelaza/Man of Iron, Bez znieczulenia/Without Anaesthesia, Panny z Wilka/The Maids of Wilko, and Wodzirej/Top Dog, as well as Aktorzy prowincjonalni/Provincial Actors and Gorączka/Fever by Agnieszka Holland, were created under his direction.
Michałek graduated from the Faculty of Art History and Sociology at the Université libre de Bruxelles in 1949. He was a member and the head of editorial teams of the most-important Polish film magazines Film and Kino. He was also a lecturer at the Leon Schiller State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, and academies in Washington and Mainz. Moreover, he served twice as the President of the International Federation of Film Critics FIPRESCI.
After 1989, he was the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Italy and the Programme Director of the Gdynia Film Festival.
He made his screenwriting debut in 1997, when he wrote the scripts to films about the interWar Poland – Sprawa Gorgonowej/The Gorgon Case by Janusz Majewski and Śmierć prezydenta/Death of a President by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, for whom he later created the screenplay for Spotkanie na Atlantyku/Chance Meeting on the Atlantic. He also contributed to the creation of the script for Danton by Andrzej Wajda, and prepared the screenplay for Eine Liebe In Deutschland, in collaboration with Wajda and Agnieszka Holland. Michałek’s last script was Łabędzi śpiew/Swan Song (1988), directed by Robert Gliński.
Selected awards and distinctions
The Karol Irzykowski Award for achievements in journalistic writing and film criticism for a book entitled Sztuka faktów/The Art of Facts, a study entitled Fellini – moralista przeciwko poecie/Fellini – a Moralist Against a Poet, and a series of columns entitled Kino ‘58/Cinema of ‘58 published in the Nowa Kultura magazine, given by the Film Critics Club of the Polish Journalists Association; the Karol Irzykowski Award for achievements in journalistic writing and film criticism for publications in Film weekly, given by the Film Critics Club of the Polish Journalists Association; the Karol Irzykowski Award for achievements in journalistic writing and film criticism, given by the Film Critics Club of the Polish Journalists Association; Łabędzi śpiew/Swan Song – the Award of the Head of Cinematography (the Chair of the Cinematography Committee) for achievements in narrative films, etc.