THE HISTORY OF FILM STUDIES
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GDAŃSK
Studies on film and audiovisual culture have a long tradition at the University of Gdańsk, dating back to the mid 1970s. They were founded by the doyen of Polish filmmakers, prof. Boleslaw W. Lewicki, who studied film in Lviv in pre-war Poland. He was the head of the first Department of Film Studies in Poland at the University of Łódź. He also lectured at the Film School in Łódź and was its rector. In the 1970s Professor Lewicki commuted from Łódź, where he lived, to Gdańsk. He organized a research team at the University, which originally consisted of Bronisława Stolarska (MA), Anna Habryn PhD and Michał Błażejewski PhD. At that time, the first MA degree seminar with a focus on film studies was organized. Film culture classes were held within the studies organized in the Institute of Polish Philology. In the 1980s and 1990s the core of film studies research department were Tadeusz Szczepański, Mirosław Przylipiak and Jerzy Szyłak. In their research, they focused on the history of cinema, with particular emphasis on the Soviet and Scandinavian cinema (Tadeusz Szczepanski), theory and aesthetics of feature films (Mirosław Przylipiak) and popular cinema (Jerzy Szyłak). They also taught classes in the field of film studies in the Institute of Polish Philology and a bit later also MA degree seminars. At the same time, young staff enrolled, so the new academics engaged in research and teaching activities related to cinema and audiovisual culture. New forms of education have also been developed. Within the Philology Doctoral Studies, new seminars have been opened that enabled doctoral dissertations in the fields of film and audiovisual culture to be written. In 2004 at the University of Gdańsk cultural studies course was officially started, in which numerous film subjects were taught. However, the breakthrough year was 2014 when a new course was opened — Audiovisual Culture and Film Studies (also known as “practical filmmaking”).
PRESENT DAY — STAFF, RESEARCHES, GOALS
Currently we are reaping the fruit of the long-term development. At the University of Gdańsk, there is a strong community of film, contemporary audiovisual and media culture researchers. It consists of the members of the Department (currently, prof. Mirosław Przylipiak, prof. Jerzy Szyłak, prof. Krzysztof Kornacki, prof. Paweł Sitkiewicz, Sebastian Konefał PhD, Grażyna Świętochowska PhD, Joanna Sarbiewska PhD), but also people with whom we closely cooperate and who are teaching the course: Janusz Bohdziewicz PhD, Bartosz Filip PhD, Bożena Kudrycka PhD, Piotr Kurpiewski PhD. Moreover, we cooperate with researchers from other Departments of University of Gdańsk, for whom audiovisual culture is also an important, but not necessarily the only area of research and teaching activity — Monika Bokiniec PhD, Masa Gustin PhD, Katarzyna Kaczor PhD, Grzegorz Piotrowski PhD. There are also numerous doctoral students, who are exploring different areas of film and audiovisual studies.
All in all, it is a strong and vibrant community, recognized in Poland and abroad, which explores many areas of contemporary media culture such as animated film, documentaries, cinema and aesthetics, history of Polish and international cinema (Icelandic and Czech cinema), popular culture and new media. We publish and participate in conferences in Poland and abroad. We also organize conferences, such as “Sacrum in Cinema” (2014), “Orson Welles” (organized in cooperation with the Baltic Sea Culture Centre, 2015) “The Economy of Cinema” (2016) and “Fast, Slow & Reverse: Faces of Contemporary Film Narration” (in cooperation with the Jagiellonian University, 2017).
THE TEACHING PROCESS
Apart from research activities we also teach students. Currently we teach a courses at the undergraduate level (bachelor), master’s degree and phd programme. Our faculty is informally called “practical filmmaking” because we focus on the training of practical filmmaking skills without neglecting the typically academic knowledge. Students are thus taught in three basic modules. Firstly, they learn the history and theory of cinema in connection with the general-cultural knowledge. Secondly, they learn about the popularization of film culture, such as film criticism, organization of film events or teaching about cinema. Thirdly, they have classes in filmmaking, including cameraman work, working with actors, script writing and editing. They also make their own film etudes. Workshops are conducted in cooperation with the Gdynia Film School, by its lecturers and partly on its premises.
FILMS AND AWARDS
Finally, it is worth to mention the filmmakers who started their contact with the cinema at the film course at the University of Gdańsk. Among them are such famous directors as Maciej Dejczer, Mirosław Bork, documentary filmmaker Maciej Adamek and — from the younger generation — Marcin Bortkiewicz. Moreover, the students or graduates of the Faculty of Philology at University of Gdańsk are currently and with much success making many independent films such as Maciej Wiktor’s (“Substitute”, 2012, “Intermediate Touch”, 2013, “Exhaust”, 2014) or the MWM group (Mariusz Wirski, Wanda Dietrich, Mariusz Hybiak) who directed award-winning documentary “Mr. Werner” (2016).