Impressions from a session in memory of Krzysztof Kieslowski

Berlinale Talent Campus 2006

Wim Wenders: I met Krzysztof for the very first time in my life in 1988. I had never seen him, I must admit, only knew one film, SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING. And that became the very first film that won the very first European Film Award. It was the first time we did it and he went on stage and the first line I heard him say was, ‘I hope Poland is actually part of Europe’. And that left a deep impression on me because all of a sudden that award had a different necessity than before. It was not just an award, out of a sudden it was important and necessary.

During that ceremony we met quite often - Krzysztof has told this story so I’m allowd to tell it - because Krzysztof had a bladder infection so he had to go to the toilet all the time. ‘On the toilet,’ he said, ‘I always encountered the same people. There was always Marcello Mastroianni who had to go to the toilet to smoke a cigarette because he was so nervous and there was always Wim Wenders who had to wash his hands.’ The three of us met repeated times and Krzysztof concluded that that was his idea of European cinema - three guys meeting all the time because one had to pee, one had to smoke and one had to wash his hands (laughs), I think that’s a great image for European movies.

Agnieszka Holland: I met Krzysztof for the first time in 1971. I was studying in Prague and all Polish directors of that generation were studying in Lodz so I didn’t know them. When I graduated in Prague I came back to Poland because the political situation in Czechoslovakia became unbearable. And I didn’t know my colleagues, my fellow filmmakers. I knew only one and he organised a meeting with other Polish filmmakers and we shared our experiences, what ‘68 was like in Poland, in Czechoslovakia. We were talking about the political situation in Polish and Eastern European cinema, everybody was talking a lot. Only one man was silent, it was Kieslowski. But whenever anyone said anything, immediately they turned to Kieslowski, like searching for his acceptance or opinion. So, I understood that he is the very important one.

Andres Veiel: I met him in the early 80ies and I have to say that in the very beginning I didn’t know what kind of impact he would later have on me. It started very early, he came to Berlin and it was not just a workshop, it was a course over the term of one year. In terms of my approach, he said, ‘Andres, I think you have a problem with authority’. And I said, ‘okay, but how do we solve this?’ and he said, ‘make a film about your father, a fiction film. There is only one task, in the very end the audience has to love your father’. I worked for half a year and I tried very hard but in the very end I have to admit I failed. He was very demanding, so it was a roller coaster, sometimes I hated him, I felt there is no way to become a filmmaker, I give up. And on other days he said, okay, we’ll do it this way and that way and in the very end we had a fantastic script. You see, it was not just a normal way of education, it was very ambivalent. In the very end I had to get out of the shadow, I didn’t see him anymore and only after he died did I feel the impact and how much I missed him.