Posthumous distinction for film director Jerzy Gruza
Recently deceased film director Jerzy Gruza, best known for his comedies and popular TV serials, was laid to rest in a Friday ceremony in Warsaw. Gruza has been posthumously decorated with a Polonia Restituta Commander's Cross for his contributions to national culture.
In a letter read out before the funeral mass, President Andrzej Duda described Gruza as "the grand master of comedy," and "an artist endowed with an extraordinary sense of observation," whose films helped to lift Polish moods, especially in the communist era.
Duda recalled Gruza's most popular films and serials, and wrote that his death, "marked the end of a certain chapter in the history of Polish film."
In his letter, Culture Minister Piotr Gliński wrote that Gruza's departure marked "a sad day for Polish culture." Recounting Gruza's successes as a film director, Gliński said his films and serials had been a satirical commentary on Polish realities and the Poles themselves.
Gruza was born on April 4 1932 in Warsaw and graduated from the directing faculty at the State Higher Film, TV and Theatrical School in Łódź, central Poland. Subsequently he began working for the Polish TV network, where from 1955 to 1983 he directed musical revues and other entertainment programmes, as well as several installments of the popular "TV Theatre" series.
Between 1983 and 1991 he was director of the Music Theatre in the coastal city Gdynia.
Gruza is known for directing popular TV serials, including "Domestic War" and "Czterdziestolatek" (The Forty Year Old Man) as well as a number of well-received feature films like "The Ring and the Rose", "Czterdziestolatek - 20 lat później" (The Forty Year Old Man - 20 Years Later), and "Woodpecker".
From the very outset of his film career Gruza verged towards comedy, and was well known for inserting between-the-lines comments on Polish realities in his scripts.
Gruza also authored articles and memoirs in which he portrayed Poland's artistic and social elites. Frequently awarded for his work, in 2017 Gruza received the Platinum Lions lifetime award at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia.
Jerzy Gruza died on February 16 aged 87. He was buried in the Alley of the Merited in Warsaw's Powązki Military Cemetary.