Renowned film director Ryszard Bugajski dies aged 76

An acclaimed Polish film director, screenwriter and writer, Ryszard Bugajski, author of “Interrogation”, dubbed "the most anti-communist film" died at the age of 76 on Friday evening in Warsaw after a long illness, his wife actress Maria Mamona told PAP on Saturday.

"Ryszard Bugajski was an outstanding Polish director. This is a great loss for Polish culture," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Piotr Glinski said, noting that Bugajski's most important films were very strongly related to the most important aspects of Polish history, ordinary people and the true heroes of Polish history.

Mr Bugajski graduated in film directing from the Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Lodz, central Poland, in 1973. In 1976, he joined the X Film Unit managed by the Academy Award-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda. It is at “the X” where he made his first films “A Woman and a Woman” and “Classes” that fell in line with the 1970s “cinema of moral anxiety” filmmaking trend.

It was in 1981 that Mr Bugajski broke free of the trend and directed the full-length feature film “Interrogation”, in which he investigates the grey sphere of ethics. Its message, being incompatible with the political line of the Polish authorities after the imposition of martial law, was the direct cause of the X Unit being closed.

Although the movie was banned by the communist authorities, it was still secretly circulated on VHS tapes, watched at homes and during anti-communist underground events.

The official premiere of Interrogation did not take place until December 1989, after the political transformation in Poland. Persecuted by the communist authorities, Mr Bugajski decided to emigrate to Canada in 1985, where he directed episodes of popular television series.

He returned to Poland in 1995. He made feature films, documentaries, television series and television theatre productions. Apart from the book version of Interrogation, reissued many times, he has published the novels “I Confess” in 1985 and “Salt and Pepper” in 2000, which continued the story of the protagonists of his most famous film, “Interrogation”.

In 2009, he made the film “General Nil”, based on the biography of the legendary general Emil Fieldorf, commander of the Home Army's Diversionary Directorate (Kedyw).

The “Interrogation” showered Mr Bugajski with festival awards, namely the Golden Grapes in Lagow, the audience award and a special prize at the Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia, and the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 1990, “Film” magazine chose this production as the best Polish film of 1989.

In 2008, he was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for "outstanding merits for democratic transformation in Poland," as well as for "achievements in professional and social work undertaken for the country." In the same year, he received the Gold Medal of Merit for Culture Gloria Artis.