Film director Ryszard Bugajski dies

Polish film director Ryszard Bugajski has died after a long illness, aged 76.

Ryszard Bugajski

Ryszard Bugajskisource: PAP/Rafał Guz

Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński has said his death is an irreparable loss for Polish culture. “Bugajski was an outstanding filmmaker. We all remember his major movies which probed very deeply into Polish history, its most important moments, showing both ordinary people and the heroes of Polish history”, he said.

Bugajski’s greatest claim to fame was ‘Interrogation’, a 1982 feature set during the Stalinist period and telling the story about an innocent woman who is imprisoned and subjected to brutal interrogation by those who are trying to force her to incrimate her former lover, now a political prisoner. The film was banned by the communist regime and it was not released until after the collapse of the system in 1989. ‘Interrogation’ was shown at the Cannes Festival in 1990, winning Krystyna Janda, who portrayed the main protagonist, the Best Actress award.

In his obituary for Bugajski, film critic Łukasz Adamski describes ‘Interrogation’ as one of the most important anti-communist films in the history of European cinema.

The decision to ban ‘Interrogation’ by the communist authorities deprived Bugajski of the right to work and forced him to emigrate. He settled in Canada where he continued his career, with a feature film ‘Clearcut’ (1991) and numerous episodes of TV series.

Upon his return to Poland in 1997, Bugajski made several films, all focusing on Polish post-war history. ‘General Nil’ portrayed the last years of the commander of the Home Army August Emil Fieldorf, codenamed ‘Nil’, who was executed by the communists in 1953. ‘The Closed Circuit’ is a story of successful entrepreneurs who were arrested on charges of involvement in a criminal group as a result of a conspiracy of corrupt officials, and ‘Blindness’ shows the last years of Julia Brystiger, a prominent member of the security apparatus in Stalinist Poland.

Bugajski was also active as a script writer and director of TV drama productions.

In 2008 he received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Reborn Poland for his outstanding services in the democratic transformations in Poland. (mk)

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