Mariusz Wilczyński: making of Kill It and Leave This Town

Watch the Masterclass: Making of the Animated Feature Kill It and Leave This Town that happened at CEE Animation Experience @AnimatekaPRO 2020.

Kill It And Leave This Town is the latest film by Mariusz Wilczyński. It is a unique film, not only in the general output of this author, but also in the history of Polish animation. It is the first  Wilczyński’s full-length film and the first one to take so long to create – as long as 14 years.

The latest work is an autobiographical impression, a reminiscence of childhood pictures, in which the memories of his deceased parents and their hometown of Łódź come alive.

Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, the hero hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are alive. Over the years, a city grows in his imagination. One day, literary heroes and childhood cartoon idols, who in the consciousness of the successive generations are forever young and wearing short pants, come to live there, uninvited. When our hero discovers they have all grown old and that eternal youth does not exist, he decides to return to real life, and the amazing characters living in his imagination lead him back to the real world.

Wilczyński about Kill It And Leave This Town:

“I do realise that over the years all your loved ones leave – grandparents, family, aunt and uncle, bosom friends and music buddies, our beloved dogs, the cat and the canary, acacia tree from the backyard and a factory with a chimney, and a tram that I always took to school, and the taste of water with juice, and toys on strings. Everything goes away, everything moves and settles down in my head. My mind is getting inhabited, crowded and furnished. Soon enough, everyone will be sitting at the Christmas Dinner table, but as usual, Aunt Hela is late with the girls. Maybe I will find Dad and Mum quickly, while we are still not sitting down, and I will finally tell them for the first time that I love them – ah, I forgot, my parents split up when I was three. (…) I want to live long, as long as I can. I want to kill all those beautiful, teary sentiments, kick them in the ass. I don’t know how to do it and I don’t know if I will succeed. The film will show.”

From the very beginning, the work on the film was unusual, as it started from the soundtrack featuring the voices of  people who are important in Polish culture, like Andrzej Wajda, Irena Kwiatkowska, Tomasz Stańko, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Gustaw Holoubek, as well as Tadeusz Nalepa, whose music is accompanying the audience throughout the whole film. So far, the film was distinguished at Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and won FIPRESCI at the 58th Viennale, as well as Grand Prix at 44th Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Wilczyński has been involved in artistic and experimental animation for over 20 years. He graduated from the Faculty of Graphic Design and Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, however he is self-educated in the field of film. His film career started with functional forms for television and music videos. While working for TVP1 (public television), he created over 200 works which he referred to as “Bookclips” – presenting popular books with short animations. The next step that strengthened his position as an animator was the production of music videos for recognized Polish artists such as Stanisław Sojka (Allegro ma non troppo), Tomasz Stańko (From the Green Hill). As early as in Allegro ma non troppo (1998) a germ is visible of the motifs characteristic for the whole work of Wilczyński, however it is not until From the Green Hill (1999) that you can say they are used to the full extension. There are also characters, such as the King who is also a recurring element of subsequent works.

In 1998 Times Have Passed was created, featuring music by Nino Rota, the famous composer of Federico Fellini, which is a peculiar tribute to the history of cinema. The film is full of references to the classic films and characters associated with the Golden Age of Hollywood. The film features take-outs from the films by Charlie Chaplin or Sergiei Eisenstein, as well as stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth or Marlena Dietrich.

Music has always been very important to Wilczyński’s work. It is visible in a significant part of his production. In his Chop, Chop, Chop, Chopin from 1999 Wilczyński and young animators illustrate musical interpretations of the Frederic Chopin’s work arranged by Michał Urbaniak, Tomasz Stańko and Justyna Steczkowska. The film, whose leitmotif is the history of Poland, was produced in several animation techniques.

In 2000 a feature For My Mother and Me (Mojej mamie i sobie) was created, which in spite of being very short (more than 2 minutes) has a great impact thanks to the author’s autobiographical references. It is a story about a son’s relationship with an overprotective mother, as well as the inexorable passage of time.

Death to 5 (Śmierć na 5) is another music video created by Wilczyński. Originally, it was meant as a part of a joint project of Grzegorz Ciechowski of Republika band and Wilczyński, the singer’s premature death prevented the project from implementation.

Wilczyński used the material and created a video to the last song by Republika. The story presented in it has been illustrated as a march of human and animal figures towards the inevitable death.

Another film was again made in cooperation with Tomasz Stańko. Unfortunately (Niestety) from 2004 returns to the known Wilczyński’s leitmotifs: passing of time, death, ageing. Stańko’s music emphasises the atmosphere of dejection and loss created by the visual images.

His last-but-one film, Kizi Mizi from 2007 was a “side-effect” of his cooperation with the public television, TVP. As the director himself puts it:

At first, Kizi Mizi was meant to be a collage of pieces made for TVP Kultura. I was sorry for the short life of tv forms, their ephemerality. Hence I started to put together my various title sequences from TVP Kultura and at a certain moment I thought that it would be worthwhile making a film about loneliness, about this specific shade of loneliness, about the fact that you really love someone and this someone really loves you, but you still end up being lonely.

It is another story about loneliness and unhappy love told by this director. Human protagonists have been replaced with animals – cats and a mouse. The film is extremely interesting formally as it has three openings and three endings. It features music by Breakout – the band of Tadeusz Nalepa, whose music appears in Kill it and leave this town. It premièred at MOMA.

How important Wilczyński is for Polish animation, is evidenced by the fact that he is the first Polish animation author with a retrospective organised by the New York MOMA. Besides, his work has been shown in Art Museum in Pretoria, or the National Museum in Brazil, Tokyo International Forum, The National Museum in Warsaw and The National Gallery in London.

In addition to film work, Wilczyński has also acted as a painter and performer. Since 2003 he has also worked as an educator. First, in Kunstunivestitetat in Linz and ASP (Academy of Fine Arts) in Łódź, where he taught painting, drawing and classical animation, today he lectures animations at Lodz Film School.

The Wilczyński films mentioned above can be viewed at:


CEE Animation is supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and co-funded by state funds and foundations and professional organisations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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