By Andrzej WAJDA


Biography - Completed 2016

A story of Wladyslaw Strzeminski, an avant-garde painter, who did not give in to socialist realism being ruthlessly enforced by the Communist regime in the post-war Poland.

& Awards

Toronto - TIFF 2016
Busan - BIFF/APM 2016
festival do rio 2016
Rome FF 2016
    • Year of production
    • 2016
    • Genres
    • Biography, Drama
    • Countries
    • POLAND
    • Languages
    • POLISH
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 98 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Andrzej WAJDA
    • Writer(s)
    • Andrzej MULARCZYK
    • Producer(s)
    • Michal KWIECINSKI (Akson Studio)
    • Synopsis
    • The tragic consequences of a struggle for artistic freedom in the totalitarian system of power unfold at first slowly, but gradually lead a charismatic, defiant man into the abyss.

      The film is set in Łódź, between 1945 and 1952, during the Stalinist period. Strzemiński is a painter and a professor of the National School of Fine Arts in Łódź. A great artist and co-creator of the theory of Unism, Strzemiński was appreciated and admired in Poland and abroad before the war. Although his students still treat him like a master, the “messiah of modern painting”, his co-workers, the university authorities and the Ministry of Culture have a very different opinion.

      Unlike loyal Party members and artists working under the doctrines of socialist realism and fulfilling “party tasks”, Strzemiński does not compromise his art. He refuses to allow politics into his work and follows his own artistic path, which does not comply with official Party regulations. This attitude leads to Strzemiński’s persecution and expultion from the university and the Association of Polish Artists and Designers.

      The Communist authorities want to destroy him and are persistent in their actions. Strzemiński is impoverished. His illness progresses, leaving him weaker and weaker. His friends turn away, but his students still admire and support him. They continue to visit their professor despite consequences. They pen down his "Theory of Vision" and listen to his critique of their own work carfully. Strzemiński is truly poverty-stricken. After fainting in a street, he is put in hospital due to extreme malnutrition. Thanks to the help from few friends, he is employed as a city decorator. Ironically, his job involves painting propaganda signs. Although he has only one leg and one arm, he is made to decorate dummies in shopwindows. Passersby laugh and mock the humiliated artist.