Jerzy Antczak and Jacek Bromski Awarded in Los Angeles

    Jerzy Antczak i Jacek Bromski during the Golden Awards ceremony Jerzy Antczak i Jacek Bromski during the Golden Awards ceremony photo: Greg Kuk

    LOS ANGELES: The Helena Modrzejewska Culture Club in Los Angeles awarded Golden Awards for lifetime achievement and activity in the field of film to two outstanding directors, producers, screenwriters - icons of Polish cinema - Jerzy Antczak and Jacek Bromski.

    During the ceremony held on 9 March 2024 in Beverly Hills, letters of congratulations sent by outstanding cultural creators from the world of film and theatre in Poland were read. Director of the Grand Theater - National Opera, former Minister of Culture, Waldemar Dąbrowski stated: "Jerzy Antczak and Jacek Bromski, two outstanding figures of Polish film art, are artists of great merit to our culture, whose achievements allow them to be confidently placed among the figures not only being part of the wonderful legacy of Helena Modrzejewska, but constantly raising the profile of her legacy and the perception of the importance of creation in the space of high art. [...] Polish film – and much more broadly: Polish art owes a lot to them.”

    Maciej Karpiński, writer, playwright and screenwriter of many films wrote: "The Helena Modrzejewska Culture Club could not have chosen the winners of this year's award more accurately. The first of them, Jerzy Antczak, belongs to the older generation, is the creator of films that are classic in their form, even monumental, usually costume films. The second one, Jacek Bromski, made a different choice: he became one of the leading creators of popular cinema in Poland, intended for a wide audience, but at the same time intelligent, full of accurate social and psychological observations. Both of these outstanding directors share extraordinary technical skills, but their creative achievements mark two paths of Polish cinema, which only together, functioning simultaneously, create its full image and determine its strength. The first of this year's winners was sent abroad for many years, the second one became the head of the Polish film community and, as the president of the Polish Filmmakers Association, took care of its interests and supported young talents for almost thirty years.

    Agnieszka Odorowicz joined in the congratulations, writing: "Mr. Jerzy Antczak and Mr. Jacek Bromski are great representatives of the Polish film community - directors whose work is known to millions of viewers. Jerzy Antczak is a timeless filmmaker and master, and for years the best ambassador of Polish cinema in US academic circles. Jacek Bromski, whose work is known to audiences of all generations in Poland, is also an outstanding spokesman for artists' rights. For almost 30 years, he devoted himself to social activities, building the copyright protection system in Poland, heading the largest organization of the film community - the Polish Filmmakers Association.

    During a lively discussion, Antczak and Bromski touched on many common topics: from the artistic vision of cinema, through the most important moments in their careers, and the achievements of which they are most proud, to educating and teaching the next generation. The audience learned a lot about the history of film and television in Poland, for example about the pioneering role of the Television Theater, to which Antczak devoted many years of his career. It has been said that the secret to making a good comedy is to hide from the actors the fact that they are acting in a comedy - there is a thin line separating a funny comedy from a stupid farce, and the director's talent lies in not crossing this line. The listeners were entertained by funny anecdotes from the film set and friendly, joking comments from both Masters. They owe each other a lot. Antczak thanked Bromski for helping him publish his own books and congratulated the head of SFP on his vision of preparing the next generation of filmmakers for the profession at the Munk Studio. Bromski emphasized his older colleague's talent in working with actors, leading to great results on the screen.

    An interesting element of the program were the statements of Jerzy Antczak's American students, whom he introduced to the secrets of film art during 25 years of lectures at UCLA. Directors, producers and lecturers including: Fred Cassidy, Quentin Lee, Robert Manganelli, Robert Moreland, Sherie Pollack, Stephanie Risley, Myrl Schreibman and Rupert Wainwright, spoke about Antczak's enormous impact on their careers. The latter informed the audience about a phone call with congratulations from the most famous student of Antczak, director Alexander Payne, who won two Oscars for the films Sideways and The Descendants.

    At the end, a telephone call from Poland was heard: Beata Ścibakówna read a letter from her husband, Jan Englert, director of the National Theater and a legend of Polish theater and film. Englert wrote: “I owe everything I know and have achieved to my masters. Jurek, you are one of them. One of those who offered, lent, or from whom I stole skills. In your case, I also have to thank you for discovering me as an actor. Notebook directed by you opened the door to the world of acting for me, and watching your direction encouraged me to take up the profession of a director. My thanks are very personal, because everyone knows who you were and what you did. But the fact that I consider myself your apprentice - not necessarily... Janek.

    During the presentation of the Golden Award for Jerzy Antczak, Dr. Trochimczyk said: "Dear Jurek: by handing over our modest award to you, we express our admiration for your talent, artistic inventiveness, creative achievements, enormous artistic successes, diligence, and generosity, because you did not spare time to educate the next generation of directors, and to take part in the activities of our Club for so many years. We are deeply grateful to you for the unforgettable moments our Club spent with your films.” Presenting the Golden Award to Jacek Bromski, Dr. Trochimczyk said: "We know that laughter is healthy and how difficult it is to make a good comedy, so we appreciate your talent even more. Thank you not only for so many of your own films, but also for preparing the next generation of directors and producers to work in cinematography. Thank you for running the Polish Filmmakers Association for many years and for your courage in fighting for artists' rights.”

    Guests from the film world included Andrzej Bartkowiak, cinematographer-director, nominated for an Oscar for the film Speed with Keanu Reeves, Ludek Drizhal, composer of music for many of Bromski's films; Alexander Gruszyński cinematographer and director; Ewa Puszczyńska, producer, Oscar winner for the film Ida, nominated for an Oscar for the film Cold War, who also has 5 nominations for the film The Zone of Interest (the film ultimately won two statuettes). The producer of the film The Zone of Interest, Jędrzej Sabliński, and Oscar nominees Tarn Willers and Neil Corbould were present. The Club members were very pleased with the presence of the producer and director of the film The Peasants, Hugh Welchman, who visited the Club in November 2023 and previously received an Oscar for the film Loving Vincent. He was accompanied by the composer of music for the film The Peasants, LUC Łukasz Rostkowski.

    Founded in 1971 by actor and director Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetyński, Stefan Pasternacki and other immigrants from Poland, the Helena Modrzejewska Club is a sponsor of cultural events promoting Polish culture. The club organizes meetings with artists, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, theater performances and film screenings. In 2021, the Club, managed by volunteers and financed by membership fees, celebrated its 50th anniversary.

    The Club's activities have been honored with over 40 Polish state medals and many awards in California. Since 2010, the Club has been honoring the overall achievements of outstanding Polish actors from the Polish diaspora with awards named after Helena Modrzejewska. So far, they have been awarded to, among others, Jan Nowicki, Barbara Krafftówna, Anna Dymna, Jadwiga Barańska, Andrzej Seweryn, Jan Englert, Katarzyna Śmiechowicz and Marek Probosz. Just like the Modrzejewska Awards, the Golden Awards created in 2024 honor lifetime achievements, but this time of directors and filmmakers, not actors. Thus, they fill the gap in the range of distinctions related to the Club's patron, the legendary actress Helena Modrzejewska.