The Polish School of Cinema is a term that denotes a group of filmmakers in the post-war period, from the 50s to the 70s.

It was not just one school but several that arose concurrently and shared a common cultural background. They were united by their stylistic elements and attitude towards social issues.

At the time, Poland was still recovering from the war and its consequences. The nation was struggling with poverty and political instability.

Despite this, the Polish people managed to create an impressive film culture and produce some of the best European films of all time.

Polish School Cinema

What Is The Polish School Cinema?

The Polish School film movement was born in the mid-sixties in the wake of political changes that took place in Poland in 1956.

Its representatives were Roman Polański, Andrzej Munk and Krzysztof Zanussi.

The directors of films belonging to this school oppose the rules of socialist realism and create films with a new form and contents, which are the result of their own observations and experiences.

They create films that reflect their thoughts and fantasies. Their films are usually based on literary works.



The type of films made by the Polish School is different from those made by other schools such as the Soviet School (see also: Soviet cinema), Italian neorealism, or Czechoslovak New Wave.

What Is The Polish School Cinema?

The Polish School is also known as “Cinema of Moral Anxiety” or “Social Realism”. The latter term refers to the unique representation of reality present in these films.

Audiences are presented with a brutal account of life in post-war Poland while being encouraged to think about their own lives and actions from a new perspective.

The two most significant directors associated with this movement are Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polanski, both for their continuous involvement in Polish cinema as well as for international recognition. They remain two of Poland’s greatest exports to date.

Movie Movements That Defined Cinema: The Polish School

The Polish School of Cinema is a style of filmmaking that gained popularity in Poland in the 1920s. This school was basedin the country’s capital, Warsaw. The Polish School began as an offshoot of German Expressionist film and used similar techniques such as exaggerated acting and symbolism.

The biggest difference between German Expressionism and the Polish School was the purpose of their films; the Polish films were made to describe hard times in Poland, like poverty, war, and revolution. Towards the end of World War I, Poland regained its independence after 123 years of occupation by neighboring countries.

This was a major conflict for the new nation because it had not yet been fully recognized by the international community. This period also saw many radical political changes, including the formation of communist and socialist parties.

Toward the end of World War II, Germany invaded Poland once again. The Nazis instituted a program called “Generalplan Ost”, designed to make ethnic Germans out of the residents in occupied territories. Poland was one of these territories.


They forced Poles to move to rural areas and engaged in large-scale ethnic cleansing which caused thousands to die or be displaced from their homes. The modernist movement swept across Europe during this time as well. The Expressionists used this movement to create films.

Processing Trauma On Screen: The Polish Film School

Lately, I have been thinking about trauma and emotions, especially in relation to the Polish Film School. 

Namely, I have been thinking about how the Polish Film School is a platform for processing trauma. Trauma is not a specific subject of these films, yet it is present in them as an emotional state, an atmosphere, or even as an aesthetic device.

I’m talking about a very specific kind of trauma. I’m talking about the trauma of the Second World War, which has been an omnipresent element in Polish culture and everyday life throughout the last 70years.

This trauma influenced all aspects of Polish life and its impact was enormous. It cannot be ignored or put aside as something that happened long ago or that is only relevant to historians and scholars. This trauma continues to affect us and our society – not only because it was a brutal war, but also because it has never been properly dealt with psychologically.* _

The Polish Film School began in the 1960s. At this point, Poland had already experienced a communist regime for over 20years and the aesthetics created by this regime had become rooted in Polish culture (particularly in theatre, literature, painting and music).

Yet, there were certain filmmakers who wanted to do something new – to create films that would be rooted in realism.

Polish Film Movements – Post-War Period

Polish film history is a long and rich one, with a turbulent past but an exciting present. The following is a list of five major post-war periods in Polish film history. Toward the end of World War II, Poland fell under the control of Soviet Russia. Although it was liberated from German control in 1944, it remained under Russian dominance until the end of the Cold War in 1989.

The Communist government imposed strict censorship on Polish cinema, forbidding any films that criticized or questioned the policies of the state. As a result, an alternative art scene arose in Poland as artists and filmmakers sought to express themselves through other means.

One such movement was Polish Film Formalist School, which was centered around Andrzej Wajda and his contemporaries. Its members were noted for their use of long takes (often over 10minutes), long shots, deep focus cinematography, and minimal editing to create a more realistic filmexperience for the viewer.

In a struggle to break free from Soviet influence after World War II, Poles began to speak out against their communist rulers in 1956. This led to riots in Gdansk (where Lech Walesa led strikes by shipyard workers) and elsewhere in Poland that year. 


History Of The Documentary Film Movement

The documentary film movement is a trend in nonfiction filmmaking that emerged from the strong currents of realism and social commentary in art, literature and politics in the 1920s. The movement’s golden age was from about 1925 to 1935. The term usually refers to films of social commentary made outside the confines of Hollywood.

History Of The Documentary Film Movement 

The early 1930s marked the high point of the documentary film movement. During this time, Robert Flaherty made his two most famous films, NANOOK OF THE NORTH and MAN OF ARAN. Flaherty also made FRESH WATER (1934), a powerful film about a white missionary’s efforts to educate Native Americans in Canada.

Nanook of the North (1922) is often considered to be the first feature-length documentary film. This Academy Award-winner portrays life as a nomadic Inuit hunter in northern Quebec, Canada, in the early 1900s

It includes scenes of hunting for food (such as walrus), living in igloos and skin tents, and adapting to climate changes. Flaherty shot Nanook over a period of years with a hand-cranked camera that required 16 hours to load and set up each time it was used. It took three years to finish this.

Top Polish School Cinema Filmmakers

Polish cinema is a phenomenon that is worth knowing about. One of the most important film schools in the world is located in Lodz, Poland. It was established by the renowned director Andrzej Wajda and it has created a number of great filmmakers like Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Roman Polanski.

The school is called The National Film School in Łódź and it’s one of the most prestigious film schools in Europe. It’s very hard to get into this school. Every year, they only accept a small number of students. Just to give you an idea, there are more than 5,000 people applying for just 16 available places. People are applying from all over the world.

The school offers education for different level of students: beginners, intermediate and advanced level. The first two years of learning are quite similar but they all include studies on cinematography, directing, screenplay writing and editing skills.


The last two years are dedicated to one of these fields only: directing or screenwriting. There is no doubt that this school has produced some really talented filmmakers over the years. Their alumni have created some great movies that have inspired millions of people worldwide.

Top Polish School Cinema Films

Polish School Cinema films are works of art that show the history and culture of Poland. The list includes films such as “The Promised Land,” “Danton,” “Death of a President,” “In Darkness” and many more.

This is a list of the top Polish school cinema films that were produced by amateurs or professionals. 

A Scene Before Dying

A young boy named Henryk is dying in a hospital bed with his father at his side. He has a tumor and is not expected to live much longer.

Henryk tells his dad to leave him alone because he doesn’t want him there, but his father stays by his side and Henryk tells him the story of how he ended up in this situation. 

The main idea behind this movie is that everyone has things about their past that they don’t want anyone to know about even their loved ones.

The Promised Land

A short film about two friends who go on a trip together that ends in disaster when one steals from the other so he can provide for his family. 

The main idea behind this movie is that money doesn’t buy respect or love, but it can help you keep your family happy while they are alive, which is all anyone really wants in life.

Polish School Cinema Theory

To be a good cinematographer, you need to be a visual artist who knows how to compose his shots, as well as a technician who knows how to make those shots come alive. Here is the theoretical side of what makes great cinematography work, and how it is used in filmmaking.

Post-production is your main tool for creating, or destroying, the mood of the film. It all begins during pre-production though. Your director will have a clear idea of what he wants his film to look like, so you might as well start thinking about it too.

The themes of the film are closely related to your lighting and post-production choices. If you are filming a romantic comedy, there will be much more light and softness in the film than if you were filming a documentary about war atrocities.

The colors will also be different – light colors create feelings of warmth and happiness while darker colors create feelings of depression and fear.

Sounds are also important aspects of cinematic language but they can’t give a feel of something that actually doesn’t exist in your shot (for example – sound can’t make people feel cold when they see sandy beaches). That’s why dialogs are very important in films – they explain things that can’t be shown visually (like thoughts and emotions).

Importance Of The Polish School Cinema

There are about 200 Polish schools (licea) for training students to become future directors, producers, editors and art designers. Every year, in the end of March and the beginning of April, a Festival of Polish Film Schools takes place.

The main aim of this event is to popularize the achievements of school cinema in Poland as well as to present creative trends characteristic of that particular type of film institution. Why is it worth watching? School cinema is something rather unique in the world – we can’t find anything similar abroad.

It’s worth watching not only because it’s entertaining but also because it’s a part of our culture. I mean… if you want to understand how our culture works, you just have to watch what young people are doing.

We can see new trends in music or fashion… but school cinema is like a mirror – it reflects how today’s young people live and what they think about. Also, I think that even if you’re not interested in film, you should watch these movies because they’re made by young people.


The End Of The Polish School Cinema

The Polish film industry was always a bit of an underdog. While we were fighting for our place in the world, Hollywood was booming and Bollywood – well, you know about them. We don’t have the money or the infrastructure to be in the same league as these guys, but can we even be bothered to try?

Tired of having a strong national identity and a lack of proper funding hampering the film industry, Andrzej Kondratiuk started the Film Polski Association in 2002 with the hopes of creating a more unified Polish cinema, by taking all of the best elements from all over Poland and creating something unique.

He wanted to create a platform where filmmakers could meet and discuss their ideas, where they could get more involved with films that are being made by peers. He wanted to bring people together.

Andrzej is, without a doubt, a brilliant man, as he has accomplished just that. The Film Polski movement opened up doors that would otherwise have remained closed. It has also grown to what it is today: an incredibly important part of Polish culture and society.

It’s not only filmmakers who have benefited from this movement; it has given people who wouldn’t usually go near films a chance to see what’s on offer.