Grzegorz Lech Królikiewicz, a film director and screenwriter, academic teacher and professor of film, was born on 5th June 1939, in Aleksandrów Kujawski, but spent his childhood in Piotrków Trybunalski.
In 1962, he completed studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lodz, and five years later graduated from the and TV Direction Department of the Lodz Film School. He made his directing début with the documentary titled „Mężczyźni” (1969), in which we see drilling of military recruits and turning them into a disciplined army. The film caused a big stir and was protested by professors, accusing the film of being ideologically detrimental, which resulted in putting them film on a shelf for the consecutive 20 years. In 1972, Królikiewicz made his full-length début titled „Na wylot” / „Through and Through”, in which we see the story of the Maliszowie, a couple accused of murdering three people. Resulting from the topic discussed in the film and making low – lives its main protagonists, it was not received well by the government officials, unlike film critics, who were thrilled with it. The film heralded the future status of the film director, who would become one of the most experimenting and outstanding authors of Polish cinema.
In 1976, he assumed the position of a director of Redakcja Faktu section in TVP Polish Television. In 1981, he was promoted to a scientific worker at the Lodz Film School, and also gave lectures as part of film studies at the University of Lodz, at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Faculty of Radio and Television University of Silesia, and the Melchior Wankowicz Warsaw College of Journalism. During that time, he was involved in pedagogy and teaching students, also writing a number of theoretical books and essays, for example dedicated to Luis Buñuel and Federico Fellini. His publications were widely appreciated and read, for example by Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Helman, or Jacek Szczerba. In the years 2003-2005, he was an art director of Teatr Nowy in Lódź.
In his films, Grzegorz Królikiewicz demonstrated his passion for problem analysis, using his own, original poetics. He was an avant-garde artist and an experimentalist, always looking for new means of expressing himself. Film critics were particularly interested in his talent to effectively deal with tough topics and invoking a dramatic perspective, when looking at his protagonists, but also praised him for the easiness of using anti-realism. Callisto Cosulich, one of such film critics, said that the means of expression adopted by Grzegorz Królikiewicz resembled, in a way, the naturalistic approach characteristic for Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey, particularly due to demonstrating total freedom in expressing his visions. Another of the film critics, Ugo Casiraghi, concluded that the filmmaker followed the path previously taken by Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, or Camus, and involved himself in an analytic vivisection of human desires, introducing existential motifs and spying on our souls.
The film director’s portfolio is dominated by documentary films, which won numerous awards at film festivals all around the world, a large portion of which offered a window into long-forgotten or even erased fragments of the history of Poland. Some of them include „A potem nazwali go bandytą” (2002) is a story about Józef Kuraś, alias „Ogień” (Fire), one of the leaders of anti-Communist resistance in Poland; „Po całym ciele” (1999) is a trip down memory lane dedicated to Polish scouts tortured by officers of the Department of Security (UB), who are seeking justice many years later; „Pierwsza, druga i ta trzecia Workuta” (2002) is story about the life of a former soldier of the Home Army Eryk Barcz while „Wieczny tułacz” (2012) is a production dedicated to Tadeusz Jaworski, director of documentary films, forced to leave Poland after 1968.
Grzegorz Królikiewicz was also an author of two biographical films, namely „Portret artysty z czasów starości” (1993) dedicated to Janusz Nasfeter, and „Piękne lata niewoli” (1996). In two other documentary films made by Grzegorz Królikiewicz, the film director drew his attention to the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne – in „Michel Montaigne – Francuski myśliciel renesansowy i jego próby” (1998), and to Father Tadeusz Pecolt – in „Bardziej niż siebie samego” (1996).
Although visibly smaller in scale, his achievements as an author of full-length films do have their weight, starting from „Na wylot” / „Through and Through” (1972), through „Klejnot wolnego sumienia” / „The Supreme Value of a Free Conscience” (1980), „Fort 13” (1983), „Drzewa”/ „The Trees” (1995), to „Sąsiady”/ „Neighbours” (2014), the last of his films.
Grzegorz Królikiewicz was also involved in creating television productions. In some of them, he partnered up with Czesław Niemen, a dear friend of his, among which „Kronika Polska Galla Anonima and „Zdania i uwagi” / „Sentences and Remarks of Adam Mickiewicz” are particularly worthy of attention. In the years 1974-2001, he made the total of twelve television productions.
In 2011, Grzegorz Królikiewicz was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta Fifth Class for his outstanding merits in the national culture, for his achievements in the artistic work, and in the field of teaching. In 2013, the filmmaker was awarded the Golden Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.
The large collection of awards and honorary mentions includes the Golden Lions Award and a Jury Special Mention at the Karlovy Vary IFF for „Przypadek Pekosińskiego” / „The Case of Pekosinski”, a Jury Award at the Gdynia Film Festival for „Tańczący jastrząb”/ „Dancing Hawk” and three awards given at the Mannheim – Heidelberg International Filmfestival for „Na wylot” / „Through and Through”
In 2017, Grzegorz Królikiewicz received the Krzysztof Krauze Award given by the Directors’ Guild of Poland, for „Sąsiady” / „Neighbours”.
The film director died on 21st September 2017, at the age of 78.
Kraków Film Festival – The Polish Film competition – The Brown Hobby – Horse for „Nie płacz”; Mannheim – Heidelberg International Filmfestival – FIPRESCI Award for „Na wylot” / „Through and Through”; Sofia International Film and Theatre Festival – an award for best directing for stage production Faust; Gdynia Film Festival – Silver Lions for „Tańczący jastrząb” / „Dancing Hawk”, Golden Lions for „Przypadek Pekosińskiego” / „The Case of Pekosinski”; FilmVideo International Festival of Short Films – an award for the film „Człowiek ze studni”; Chicago International Film Festival – Certificate of Merit Award for the film „Scytowie” / „The Scythians”; Karlovy Vary IFF – a special award for „Przypadek Pekosińskiego” / „The Case of Pekosinski”; Etiuda & Anima International Film Festival in Cracow – the Special Golden Dinosaur Award and many others.