This year Andrzej Wajda received an honorary Oscar for his life-long achievements. The distinguished Polish film director was born in Suwałki on 6 March 1926. He studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy in Kraków and cinema at the Higher Film School in Łódź.
Wajda rose to fame with a trilogy - Pokolonie (A Generation, 1954), Kanał (1956) and Popiół i Diament (Ashes and Diamonds, 1958) that vividly reflected the experience of an entire generation in postwar Poland.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Wajda dealt, in films such as Człowiek z marmuru (Man of Marble, 1977) and Człowiek z żelaza (Man of Iron, 1982), with the growing political turmoil in Poland and the rise of the Solidarity movement.
Wajda's films present a unique dramatic narrative of Poland's history after World War II, and even his films made abroad, such as Danton (1982), about the French Revolution, dealt with the moral issues raised by the conflict of individual choice and political action.
His recent work includes Korczak (1990) about a Polish-Jewish writer and teacher who looks after his 200 orphan pupils in the Warsaw ghetto during the war and tries to protect them from the vicious reality around them.
Wajda has won several European film awards, the FIPRESCI award in San Sebastian in 1980 for Dyrygent, a Gold Palm in Cannes in 1981 for Człowiek z żelaza, a Caesar in 1982 for Danton, and a special Jury's award in Cannes in 1990 for Korczak.
His latest production, a film version of Adam Mickiewicz's epic poem Pan Tadeusz, was among the Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Film. The Chairman of the American Academy, when confirming the nomination, called Wajda 'one of the most esteemed filmmakers of our times, the man who gave audiences around the world an artistic view of history, democracy and freedom.'