The "Golden Sceptre" for Roman Polański

The "Golden Sceptre" award, given each year by the Polish Culture Foundation and BIG Bank GDAŃSKI SA went in 2002 to the film director Roman Polański.

Already the first tones of old sings by Władysław Szpilman, the main character in "The Pianist", played by Andrzej Jagodziński, put the huge public at the "Golden Sceptre" award giving ceremony in a somewhat sentimental mood. Recollections of Roman Polański's friends from the Łódź film school days (Andrzej Kondratiuk, Janusz Majewski, Andrzej Kostenko, Henryk Kluba, Janusz Morgenstern) intertwined with scenes from the director's most famous motion pictures and his film appearances. Back were the icons and stories from the 1950s, recollections of the famous balls in the Film School, Polański's first icon films ("Dwaj ludzie z szafą", "Ssaki"/Two Men With a Cupboard, Mammals/) and finally the director's feature film debut "Nóż w wodzie" (Knife in the Water). Tomasz Stańko performed the beautiful ballad from this picture.

The film (nominated for the Academy Award) began Mr Polański's continuing career, marked by eminent films and great awards and which - as closing a complete cycle - saw a return to Polish reality in "The Pianist" based on memories of Władysław Szpilman. Polański is an icon not only because of his creative legacy, but also because he is not susceptible to easy pigeon-holing. Once the "favourite" author of Polish censors, later the negative focus of socialist critics, a man of the world and something of a hippie, creator of films outstanding for their artistic value as well as of strictly commercial productions, he is one of the few Polish artists, who have reached international success. This year's "Golden Palm" in Cannes confirmed his position as one of the most eminent authors of contemporary cinema. Hardly surprising therefore that the "Golden Sceptre" Award Chapter, chaired by Beata Tyszkiewicz honoured Roman Polański with this award in 2002 - "for his cinema work, filled with creative seeking of means of expression, expanding and deepening sensitivity of the audience and also for remaining true to the experience, which became his and his people's share".

The award, presented by Bogusław Kott, Chairman of the Management Board of BIG Bank GDAŃSKI SA, is a sculpture by professor Krzysztof Nitsch and PLN 100 000. Roman Polański used it to convert an old pharmacy in Cracow, at the former Plac Zgody Square into a museum. The additional award of PLN 10 000 for a selected talented young artist was presented by Mr Polański to the PWSTiF Film School in Łódź, to be used for the most talented student of the motion picture direction department. Both awards have been funded by BIG Bank GDAŃSKI SA.

Exactly forty years have passed from "Knife in the Water" - Mr Polański's first major film, until "The Pianist" - his most recent production. The span between the ballad of Krzysztof Komeda from his first film and the music of Chopin performed in "The Pianist" by Janusz Olejniczak encompasses Roman Polański's career, briefly recalled during the "Golden Sceptre" award giving ceremony. Jazz to classic music - was that indeed his artistic track record? Polański himself, surrounded by old friends and many fans appears to still be the same unpredictable film school student in Łódź. Somewhat embarrassed, thanking for the award and the magnificent accompanying ceremony he only uttered: "This is too much, really too much".

The "Golden Sceptre" award was given for the fourth consecutive time. The award in its scope recognises the intellectual work of an individual or a group, a group of artists or authors, a community organisation, an artistic institution, a cultural or scientific movement. The first winner of the award was Jerzy Giedroyć - a journalist and publisher, author of the Paris-based "Kultura". In the second edition the award went to the composer Wojciech Kilar, while last year it was presented to Stanisław Lem - the internationally renowned writer. Since the establishment of the award BIG Bank GDAŃSKI SA has been funding the award and sponsoring its ceremony.