Kieślowski. From Sokołowsko to Sokołowsko


Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of the greatest treasures of Polish cinematography. His biography is closely related to the charming resort in the Wałbrzych Mountains: Sokołowsko. Any journey with Kieślowski must either start or end at this point.

Krzysztof Kieślowski – an infant in a swaddle blanket with his parents Barbara and Roman. (1941)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Warsaw under occupation

Kieślowski was born in the occupied Warsaw (on June 27, 1941), to spend the following years traveling - mainly around the Lower Silesian towns of the Recovered Territories.

Roman Kieślowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski's father (1944)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Father's illness

The Kieślowski family traveled from one place to another, looking for help and the best living conditions for Krzysztof's father who suffered from tuberculosis.

Krzysztof Kieślowski and his sister Ewa posing with bicycles against the background of a mountain landscape in Sokołowsko. (między r. 1945 a 1956)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

The Recovered Territories

Krzyś spent his childhood and youth in the charming health resort of Sokołowsko, in the Wałbrzych Mountains. The famous sanatorium, founded in 1854 by Hermann Brehmer, became a model center for the treatment of tuberculosis patients and the prototype of the legendary Davos.

Krzysztof Kieślowski jako siedmioletni chłopiec w Karpaczu (1948)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Trips to the mountains

The Kieślowski family took advantage of the attractions of the nearby resorts which, after 1945, became part of the Polish Recovered Territories. Krzyś and his mother went to Duszniki Zdrój and Karpacz.

Krzysztof Kieślowski with a still camera during photography classes (okres studiów)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

The first film?

Kieślowski said that the first film he had seen was Fanfan Tulipan (1952). It must have been another film though, because it was in 1950, 2 years before the premiere of the film with Gérard Philippe, when Krzyś was in the cinema for the first time, accompanied by his grandmother.

Krzysztof Kieślowski and his sister Ewa posing with bicycles against the background of a mountain landscape in Sokołowsko. (między r. 1945 a 1956)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ


The bicycle on which the teenage Krzysztof performed acrobatic exercises was Kieślowski's first vehicle-related passion, but not the last one...

Postcard from Krzysztof Kieślowski to his mother Barbara Kieślowska - reverse (1953-04-20)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Pre-SMS texting technique 

As a boy, Krzyś liked to write postcards and letters. Even a few a day. Constantly on the road, he missed his parents. In times when there were no text messages, such cards maintained bonds and conveyed the simplest information, such as the one about a piece of cake he had eaten.

Holiday trip to the sea in a Velorex. Krzysztof Kieślowski with his school sweetheart Bożena Skwara and his sister Ewa. (1962)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

... and driving

... because then came cars which Kieślowski loved. At first, they were as strange and crude as the velorex that Krzysztof and his sister Ewa drove during their holidays in 1962.

Krzysztof Kieślowski with a lifebuoyContemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Lakes and rivers

If it wasn't a car, it had to be a boat or a sailboat. Kieślowski spent every vacation near the water – in Masuria or on canoeing trips – such as here – on the Nida River.

Krzysztof Kieślowski as a student of the PWSTiF in Lodz.Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Łódź Film School

Studying at the Łódź Film School was the dream of many film lovers. Kieślowski was accepted to the directing department on his third attempt. He had no preparation or connections, nor was he convinced that film would be his world. He preferred theater at that time.

Photograph of Krzysztof Kieslowski from his youth. (między r. 1957 a 1962)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ


After primary school, Kieślowski announced that he would become a firefighter, but fortunately he chose the Theater Techniques Secondary School in Warsaw. His uncle helped him settle in the city of his birth. The school itself was a breeding ground for many Polish theaters.

Portrait of a florist - "From the City of Lodz" (1969)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

From the city of Łódź

As a first-year student, Kieślowski made a series of photographs devoted to Łódź. These several dozen photos are a moving document from the era of "cucumber" buses, boys' school aprons and "knife" games; photos full of cruel observations, sadness and hopelessness.

Krzysztof Kieślowski and Jacek Petrycki on the set of the short documentary "X-ray"Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ


In 1974, Kieślowski returned to Sokołowsko. He wanted to pay tribute to his father and he made a documentary about people suffering from tuberculosis: "X-Ray".

Krzysztof Kieślowski at the camera (okres studiów)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

At the Film School, he made friends with his future colleagues and caught the documentary filmmaking bug; it was also at the School that he became a leader of social change in 1968. He even had an acting performance. Years later, he returned to Łódź as a valued teacher.

Krzysztof Kieślowski and Maria Cautillo during the marriage ceremony (1967)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Miss Maria

In 1966, Kieślowski met the gorgeous Maria Cautillo, a student of the State Higher School of Fine Arts, whom he married a few months later at the Registry Office in Warsaw.

Krzysztof Kieślowski with Bogusław Linda and dog Frak in Masuria. (1980)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ


It was on the other side of Poland – in Koczek in Masuria - that he found his enclave of peace . He bought a plot of land and a house there and not only spent his holidays, but traveled there whenever he had free time. He sketched his holiday home on one of the postcards.

Still from "A Short Film About Killing" on the building of Cinema Hollywood (1987)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ


The late 1980s brought Kieślowski a run of success. The director was constantly on the road. He was feted everywhere, but also more and more tired and sick. The news about him giving up filmmaking was disbelieved, and the one of his death on March 13, 1995 came as a shock.

Handwritten notes for the film "I Was a Soldier" (1969)Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

The Archive

In the 21st century, Kieślowski "returned" to Sokołowsko. This is where his home archive is held. A knowledge center devoted to our great director was created here, full of production documents, letters, scripts and photos.

Sokołowsko during the "Hommage à Kieślowski" film festival.Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ

Miejsce spotkań

Sokołowsko is also the "Hommage à Kieślowski" film festival, attended by fans of Kieślowski from all over the world. In the summer months, when Sokołowsko is at its most beautiful, screenings and conversations with Kieślowski's closest collaborators remain unforgettable.

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