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The Platinum Castle award for Jacek Bławut

"To me, every person is a miracle. Everyone in themselves is something incredible, however you look at it, whoever they may be. Meeting them is the most interesting thing in making films" - wrote Jacek Bławut in his book titled "A character in a documentary". This year's winner of the Platinum Castle award, granted by the organisers of the MDFF OFF CINEMA in Poznań, is one of the most important and original Polish documentary filmmakers.

He began his artistic journey with children's roles in feature films (e.g. the ones of Stanisław Różewicz and Sylwester Chęciński). His work as a cameraman in Educational Film Studios in Łódź opened the path to his own original cinema. Although he did not stop making feature movies in collaboration with Marek Koterski, Jerzy Domaradzki and Krzysztof Kieślowski, to name a few, the artistic documentary was in the center of his creative activity from the mid-1980s  . Already with his first short films, such as "Kostka cukru" (A Lump of Sugar, 1986), "Cyrk Skalskiego" (Skalski's Circus, 1986) and "Byłem generałem Wehrmachtu" (I was a General in Wehrmacht, 1988) he secured his place in the history of domestic factual cinema. The characters of his last two films were joined by those from "Superciężki" (Super heavyweight, 1984), "Ślizgiem do nieba" (Sliding to heaven, 1985), "Born dead" (2004) and "Wojownik" (Warrior, 2007). As a result, Bławut's most important films compound an unique set of original documentary superhero cinema.

Their author moves with artistic finesse between creative documentary of sublime visual form and participatory documentary. He uses variety of film styles and methods to portray people of titanic fortitude, heroes of history and sport. While the director's appreciation and admiration for the characters seems natural in films about extraordinary characters who are fully "qualified" to be film heroes, it may be surprising to see even greater respect and admiration for those characters portrayed by the camera that are fragile, marked by suffering, struggle with illness or limitations brought on by fate. They appear in his movies from the groundbreaking (the first one on this subject in Polish cinema) feature documentary called "The Abnormal" (1990) whose main characters are young people with intellectual disabilities The success of the film, thanks to which Bławut discovered a new topic for himself and a method of fully empathic involvement with the portrayed characters, resulted in another works: "Olimpiada specjalna" (Special Olympics, 1996), "Paweł" (1998), "Rogate dusze" (Horned Souls, 1996), television documentary "Ja, alkoholik" (I, the Alcoholic, 2003-2004), "Szczur w koronie" (A Rat in the Crown, 2005) and also feature film „Jeszcze nie wieczór” (Before Twilight, 2008).

Two other of Bławut's most important films - "Born Dead" and "Wojownik" (Warrior) - combine two above-mentioned key themes of his work into one: a story about human heroic struggle with one's own limitations. This "combat" trait in the interests of the cinematographer and director in one person is confirmed in films about soldiers, including "Cyrk Skalskiego" (about the champion of the Polish fighter aviation), "Byłem generałem Wehrmachtu" (about Home army officer - Kazimierz Leski), "Miałem przyjaciela" (I had a friend) (about foreign legion veteran), "Kawaleria Powietrzna" (Air Cavalry, 2000) and in his latest feature film "Orzeł. Ostatni patrol" (Eagle. The Last Patrol, 2021) - about military fortune of the crew of a legendary Polish submarine.

A certain complement to the mentioned titles is Bławut's last, so far, documentary "Virtual Wars" (2012) which presents the story of computer gamers fighting each other in virtual battles in simulators that imitate the conditions of air battles of World War II fighter aircraft.  Finally, Jacek Bławut is also a film teacher, a lecturer at the Wajda School and at the Lodz Film School, under whose supervision documentary etudes awarded at international film festivals, including OFF CINEMA in Poznań, were created.

Mikołaj Jazdon

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