An artist of extraordinary imagination and sensitivity, gifted with unconventional, surreal, nonsensical sense of humour. All that coupled with a strong affection for film viewers. And the feeling was mutual – as proven so many times at the Poznań Festival, where he was a frequent guest who rarely left empty-handed. Over the years, Leszek Gałysz won twelve Poznań trophies, including five Goats and two Marcinek prizes, which he received for episodes of the series: ‘Fortele Jonatana Koota’ – ‘Opowieść egzotyczna’ (award winner in 1981), ‘Dixie’ – ‘Sezon ogórkowy’ (1984), ‘O dwóch takich, co ukradli księżyc’ – ‘Jacek i Placek’ (1986) and ‘Figlarz’ (1988), ‘2 koty + 1 pies’ – ‘Złota rybka’ (1991), ‘Film pod strasznym tytułem’ (1996, 1997), ‘Bukolandia’ – ‘Bulber’ (1998), as well as for the feature films – ‘Odwrócona Góra albo film pod strasznym tytułem’ (2000) and ‘Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek wśród złodziei marzeń’ (2002), and the short film ‘The Clock That Run Amok’ (2010).
This last title earned him the Award of the Polish Filmmakers Association for the best Polish animated film of outstanding artistic and educational values. The jury’s justification reads: “We would like to honour the extraordinary originality of the visual art and the means of storytelling, which this work is a perfect combination of. Conducted on many levels, the narration reveals the great awareness of genres and conventions, as well as aesthetic sophistication. This film teaches us how to watch movies and how to read stories. The erudition of the creators makes ‘The Clock That Run Amok’ a perfect introduction to film theory – for children.”
The jurors couldn’t have found better words to describe the cinema Leszek Gałysz was creating. He always made an effort to be responsible for the creation process from A to Z – not only did he direct his films, but also wrote the scripts, worked out the visual arts, and often even acted as the producer. He always aspired for his animations not to be anonymous. Leszek quickly developed a unique, immediately recognizable character of his film scripts – also when working on the scenarios of others artists, such as Agnieszka Taborska, a writer resonating on the same artistic frequency.
Leszek Gałysz graduated from the High School of Visual Arts in Nałęczów (1968) and the Occupational Higher School of Film Editing at the National Higher School of Film, Television, and Theatre in Łódź (1987). “I was born in Leszkowice, or maybe in Kraków, but I spent my childhood in Warsaw, went to high school in Nałęczów, and graduated from university in Łódź,” he used to say about himself. For nearly a quarter of a century, he had been cooperating with Studio Miniatur Filmowych (since 1970, as an animator and author of artistic work, from 1978 – as a director), from 1992, he ran a motion graphics studio – J&P Studio Grafiki Filmowej – and, together with his wife Magdalena Gałysz, the Film Kitchen. He had to his credit many episodes of some iconic series for the youngest viewers, including ‘Fortele Jonatana Koota’ (1980–1981), ‘Dixie’ (1982), ‘2 koty + 1 pies’ (1990–1992), and above all – ‘O dwóch takich, co ukradli księżyc’ (1984–1989), ‘Film pod strasznym tytułem’ (1992–1996), and ‘Bukolandia’ (1997).
Leszek was valued for his amazing adaptation of Kornel Makuszyński’s bestseller – a book about the adventures of unruly twins, smart but lazy, dreaming of finding a wonderland where one does not have to work. This story became the canvas for the movie entitled ‘Jacek i Placek’ (1992) – one of the best feature animations in the history of Polish cinematography. No less successful were Gałysz’s later feature films: ‘Odwrócona góra albo film pod strasznym tytułem’ (1999), an unconventional forest-water family saga, and ‘Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek wśród złodziei marzeń’ (2002), a film adaptation of the unbelievable adventures of characters featured in the popular comic book by Papcio Chmiel.
Two films by Gałysz based on Agnieszka Taborska’s scenarios – ‘The Clock That Run Amok’ (2009) and ‘Rybak na dnie morza’ (2011) are artworks of extraordinary beauty. The first one is a charming philosophical fable about happiness, loneliness, and evanescence, which employs the conventions of a classic fairy tale in a witty manner. The latter – with captivating visual art by Józef Wilkoń – is an impressive variation on the popular fable theme of the fisherman and the goldfish. This time, it is the goldfish who is granted three wishes, while the fisherman is the one who makes them come true. First of all, he is turned into a fish, secondly – he accompanies the goldfish into the depths of the sea, and thirdly – he turns back into a human to tell others about his unbelievable underwater adventures.
His last film, ‘Jazz lub Janko Muzykant najnowszy’ (2015), is an original escape into the pure nonsense and surreal world, being an antidote to the surrounding paranoia. That’s exactly what Julian Antonisz once did, and it was a good lead to follow. The movie has something of a drama and something of a grotesque, but it is also filled with music – with the saxophone playing the lead role (great music of Michał Górczyński, a regular collaborator of Gałysz).– The sounds unite this collage of genres, proving it true that ‘music has charms to soothe a savage breast’. The movie poses a problem, though. Did the artist intend it for a young or an adult viewer? I heard such doubts more than once, during selection processes for several festivals. It seems that in this particular case the question is irrelevant. Leszek created cinema for sensitive and imaginative people, regardless of their age. Like his master, Witold Giersz.
Leszek Gałysz won many prestigious awards at several festivals around the world, including Los Angeles, Kharkov, Kraków, Łódź, and Poznań. In 2016, he was honoured at the 4th National Festival of Polish Animation O!PLA in Łódź with the title of Honorary Citizen of Animation – Land of Unlimited Possibilities. A great artist, a wonderful man. He left suddenly and unexpectedly on February 14, 2018. Farewell, Leszek!
07.12 / 09.30