Krzysztof Zanussi ([pictured), a Polish film-maker, professor of cinematic arts and culture, writer, consultant to the Vatican Commission for Cultural Affairs, and a master in the craft for his generation, has exercised a career that spans more than 50 years. He was recently in Melbourne as a guest of the Polish Institute of Cultural Affairs and the Polish Film Festival. Kairos interviewed Professor Zanussi on faith, culture and film, reports the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
You have been trained in multiple fields of endeavour, why did you choose film?
When people ask me how I evolved into filmmaking from being a trained physicist, I say these disciplines have a lot in common. It is the notion of mystery. Physics reveals a world full of mysteries before which we must remain humble. It is the same with artists, especially narrative art, which tells stories. No great artist in history has ever denied the mystery of life — we don’t know why, when or how. As long as we respect our ignorance in this regard, then we can draw closer to the truth as artists.
I cannot cite any timeless work that is not religious; it may not be confessional but it has dealt with mystery and mystery is another name for God.
What can art and specifically film contribute to the new evangelisation?
Visual and narrative art are crucial for evangelisation. It brings one to experience and understand the point of view of the other, which is a moral obligation today. It allows us to enter into characters and life situations previously unknown to us, be enriched, and grow in the discovery that the world can be viewed from many different perspectives.
Stories activate our imaginations, open our minds, stimulate our creativity so that we can better enter into the life and thought of others and ‘love them as we love ourselves’.
You were a close friend of Pope John Paul II. Can you share something of your relationship with him?
We must remember that Pope John Paul II was involved in theatre; he was an actor. During the Nazi occupation, all expressions of art and culture were forbidden in Poland. The theatre that Karol Wojtyla participated in was done at the risk of being sent to the concentration camp if discovered.
Thus it was very noble, very sombre; it was played out in private apartments before a small, highly selected public. Theatre was the way to accentuate the reality that culture continues. It allowed a nation to survive with its language and thought. In fact Wojtyla had this ability to speak well, which he learned as an actor. His theatrical performance was something very serious and inspired.
FULL STORY Faith, culture and film (CAM)