Les États généraux du film documentaire 2012 Fragment of a filmmaker's work: Bogdan Dziworski

Fragment of a filmmaker's work: Bogdan Dziworski


Bodgan Dziworski (Łódź, 1941) is a major figure in Polish documentary. In his films, landscapes, human gestures, sounds are metamorphosed by a style of great expressive force and an organic rhythm of editing. A renowned cinematographer who has worked with the great masters of Polish cinema, a prestigious and worldly known photographer, Bogdan Dziworski has constructed a unique filmography through his visual research and his innovative use of sound. By pushing reality to its extreme limits, documentary is transformed into poetry and visionary magic. For Bogdan Dziworski the real is always full of mystery: the filmmaker is like a detective of the invisible looking for traces of ghosts or a shaman giving chase to missing presences. The camera explores empty spaces like a silent witness that plunge us into an enchanted atmosphere: the astonishing beauty and strength of the images and the total absence of dialogues let us go slowly in this surreal universe whose keys seem to be lost. But Bogdan Dziworski has a deep love for people too: many of his documentaries are devoted to sports and athletes. He chooses not to film the sportsmen like heroes but like common people: there’s always a fond and respectful attention to human gestures and strength. The camera is just beside those human beings, so we can perceive their physical efforts, their muscles sprinting under incredible exertions: the soundscape is made of amplified panting breaths, swimming strokes, running footsteps, crossing foils and skiing noises. The point is not to glorify sport contests but to meditate on vanity of efforts and to understand how transient victories are: so Bogdan Dziworski adopts a softly skeptical and ironically tender look on human beings. He is a humanist and he loves and shows the fragility of humanity: he uses comedy as a great tool to enrich this philosophical position. There’s a peculiar and very funny burlesque side in every Bogdan Dziworski film: surprisingly using old tricks like slow or reverse motion he introduces slapstick comedy into documentary film. At the same time we perceive the efforts of human being, we think about philosophical problems and we laugh! But Bogdan Dziworski is a contemporary man too: in some of his films he reflects upon historical heritage and problems of modern society. The comparison between the splendor of the past and the decay of the present hides a subtle but sharp criticism towards the soviet regime and its dull conventionality: the camera tries to find the painful richness of Polish history in a present built upon a fake egalitarian system. The only mean which can give hope to humanity is an altruistic ethics: Bogdan Dziworski shows it perfectly in his two films on circus, in which circus artists are shown both as individuals at work and members of a supportive community. For these people art is not an esoteric keyword but a daily task: art comes directly from the constant and sometimes painful observation of the world. In the end every film by Bogdan Dziworski is a self-reflecting work: the powerful images, the amplified sound, the unusual editing push us spectators to think about the artificiality of documentary and the act of creation itself. Like all greatest modern documentarists, Bogdan Dziworski conceives the making of a film as an artwork that shows at the same time the real, its mirror and a critical look at this process.

Federico Rossin

Debates animated by Federico Rossin.