Michał Marczak

Professor at The European Graduate School / EGS


Michał Marczak (b. 1982 in Warsaw, Poland) is a film director and cinematographer.

Marczak studied philosophy at the University of Warsaw, film directing at the California Institute of the Arts, documentary directing at the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Warsaw, and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland.

After directing the short documentary Kobieta poszukiwana (A Woman Sought, 2009), which received an honorary mention at Koszalin Debut Film Festival, Marczak made his feature debut with the documentary Koniec Rosji (At the Edge of Russia, 2010). Following six soldiers stationed at the frontier of northern Russia, it received the HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award (Toronto), The Golden Pram at Zagreb Film Festival and the Silver Eye Award at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, among others.

Marczak’s next feature documentary film— perhaps indeed “another decisive step in what might be called collaborative direction”[1]— documents Fuck for Forest, a Norwegian environmental group that produces pornography in order to raise money for the Amazon rainforest. Fuck For Forest won him the Best Documentary Award at Warsaw International Film Festival 2012 and the Sheffield Green Award – Special Mention at Sheffield International Documentary Festival 2013.

His subsequent feature fiction/non-fiction film Wszystkie nieprzespane noce (All These Sleepless Nights, 2016) follows two young art students wandering around Warsaw at night. Trespassing traditional genre notions, it cannot be defined as either fiction or documentary. As Marczak puts it: “There are certain films that fit into certain categories very well and there are others that I don’t think need to be categorised, they’re just films and they either move you or they don’t, which is the case with this film. I never set out to push boundaries.”[2] Elsewhere he adds: “The characters are not pretending to be somebody they’re not. They’re going through real emotions. They’re not simulating emotions. That for me is kind of a definition of a documentary – and the definition of a good film for me.”[3]

All These Sleepless Nights received numerous nominations and won the Directing Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the Audience Award at New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław, and the Heterodox Award at Cinema Eye Honors Awards, among others.

Marczak directed the video for Beautiful People by Mark Pritchard (feat. Thom Yorke from Radiohead) which also premiered at Sundance 2016. After creating a video vignette for Radiohead’s “Identikit” (on the 2016 album “A Moon Shaped Pool”), he also directed the music video for their 1996 studio version of I Promise.

Marczak was the cinematographer of the science-fiction documentary Photon (2017) as well as of the documentaries Sacred (2016) and Wirtualna wojna (2012), among others; most recently, he also directed and wrote an episode of the Polish TV series Rojst (2018).

[1] Ela Bittencourt, “Interview: Michal Marczak”; https://www.filmcomment.com/blog/interview-michal-marczak/

[2] Daisy Woodward, “A cinematic ode to Warsaw nightlife and the freedom of youth”; https://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/35316/1/a-cinematic-ode-to-warsaw-nightlife-and-the-freedom-of-youth

[3] Geoffrey Macnab, “All These Sleepless Nights director Michal Marczak on following two hedonistic partygoers”; https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/why-all-these-sleepless-nights-director-micha-marczak-warsaw-a7652926.html