Film Units

Film Units
(Zespoły filmowe)
   The Polish film industry after World War II was based on a film units system, considered a new and efficient way of managing film production. The concept goes back to the ideas propagated before the war by START members. Before 1955 there were unsuccessful attempts to create film units. For example, in 1948 three such units were founded in order to stimulate film production: Blok, managed by Aleksander Ford; ZAF (Zespół Autorów Filmowych), headed by Wanda Jakubowska; and Warszawa, managed by Ludwik Starski. All were disbanded in 1949. Starting in May 1955, the film industry was reorganized with several film units. Each film unit was composed of film directors, scriptwriters, and producers (along with their collaborators and assistants) and was supervised by an artistic director, with the help of a literary director and a production manager. Film units were considered state enterprises yet had some rudimentary freedoms. Thanks to units, a number of the Łódź Film School graduates quickly achieved strong positions in the national film industry.
   In 1957 there were eight such film units in operation, among them Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Kadr, which was instrumental in developing the Polish School phenomenon. Other film units included Ludwik Starski's Iluzjon (with directors such as Wojciech Jerzy Has, Sylwester Chęciński, and Jerzy Passendorfer), Jan Rybkowski's Rytm (Stanisław Lenartowicz, Stanisław Różewicz), Aleksander Ford's Studio (Ewa and Czesław Petelski, Janusz Nasfeter), Wanda Jakubowska's Start (Jan Batory, Maria Kaniewska), Jerzy Zarzycki's Syrena, Jerzy Bossak's Kamera (formerly known as "57"), and Antoni Bohdziewicz's Droga. The literary directors included some of the most prominent writers: Anatol Stern, Stanisław Dygat, Tadeusz Konwicki (himself a renowned filmmaker), Jerzy Stefan Stawiński, Roman Bratny, and Jerzy Andrzejewski.
   After 1968 the Communist authorities tightened censorship, criticized "commercialism," and called for films reflecting the true spirit of socialism. They also reorganized the existing film units to introduce a more centralized organization of the film industry. In 1969 the following six film units were in operation: Iluzjon, Kraj, Nike, Plan, Tor, and Wektor. In the first part of the 1970s, another reorganization of the film units granted them more artistic freedom. In 1972 there were seven film units in operation: Stanisław Różewicz's Tor, Czesław Petelski's Iluzjon, Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Kadr, Jerzy Passendorfer's Panorama, Aleksander Scibor-Rylski's Pryzmat, Andrzej Wajda's X, and the only unit established outside of Warsaw — Kazimierz Kutz's Silesia in Katowice.
   The implementation of martial law in December 1981 seriously affected the cinema in Poland. For example, accused of oppositional activities, Wajda was removed as the head of film unit X. The 1987 legislation, more fully introduced after 1989, abolished the state monopoly in the sphere of film production, distribution, and the purchase of foreign films. State-owned and state-controlled film units were transformed into independent film studios.
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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