The story of the Animated Film Studio starts in 1947 in Katowice . An experimental, animated films studio is set up alongside the offices of the “Worker’s Tribune“ newspaper under the directorship of the artist Zdzislaw Lachur. The co-founders are: Władysław Nehrebecki, Maciej Lachur, Leszek Lorek, Alfred Ledwig, Mieczysław Pozńanski, Alexander Rohoziński, Wiktor Sakowicz, Rufin Struzik, and Wacław Wajser. In 1948 the team moves to the town of Wisla and later, for good, to Bielsko-Biala. The first few years are taken up with completing the work team and accumulating experience. In 1948 the first film is made - “Was This a Dream?”on the subject of World War II, which has only just ended. Four black and white films are produced in Bielsko-Biala during the next two years, however only the third one, W.Wajser’s “The Wolf and the Baby Bears” is screened in 1950. In1953 Lechosław Marszałek successfully debuts with his film “ the Little Goat”, gaining a distinction in Venice and winning prizes at the Festival in Karlove Vary (the first international prize for Polish animation). At first the Studio produced films for adult audiences but it turned out soon that its greatest successes will be children’s films. In the years 1947-1955 the team produced 21 films. The Studio had, at this time, a branch in Warsaw. However in 1953 the Warsaw contingent broke away to become “The Studio of Miniature Films”. In1956 the Studio became independent - it started to be a state owned enterprise with its own management, administration and programming.

The ensuing rapid growth in production can be attributed to the rapid development of television in Poland. The year of 1963 saw the birth of Bolek and Lolek, undisputedly the most popular heroes in Polish animation. “Bolek and Lolek” films were produced for 23 years (1963-1986). These characters appeared in nearly 200 films (shorts and features). At the same time, also in the course of 23 years, films were being made with another extremely popular character the little dog “Rex” (1967-1990). In the sixties, besides Lolek and Bolek and Rex, there were other very Reksiopopular characters such as the Little, Blue Knight (a feature film based on the series was made in 1983) the cook Bartholomew Bartolini, the Wawel Castle Dragon and Professor Sponge.

 

The second half of the 60s and the 70s were the Studio’s best years to date. Apart from further “Bolek and Lolek” and “Rex” films, other film series for children emerged. “The Shaggy Little Bear”, “Pampalini the Hunter”, “The Adventures of a Little Mouse”, paper cut-out “Ballads” to the words of Wiera Badalska’s “Hip Hop the Kangaroo” and further adventures of Prof. Sponge. 1977 was a historical year for the Studio (maybe even for the whole Polish animation). The first Polish animated feature film was produced - “Bolek and Lolek’s Great Journey” directed by Władysław Nehrebecki and Stanisław Dulza. In order to produce 2872 metres of film it was necessary to make over 60 thousand drawings. Alongside the films for children, the Studio’s artistic team was also producing films for adults. These brought home many awards from national and international festivals.

 

In the difficult time of 80s, film production fell. There were notably less films directed for an adult audience. Nevertheless some new series showed up, especially on TV: “Leon the Fox”, “Bolek and Lolek at the Olympics” , “Marcel the Starling” and “The Adventures of Captain Klipper”. In 1983 Studio produced a feature film for children directed by Leosław Marszałek “The Adventures of the Little Blue Knight” and in 1985 a full length film by Zdzislaw Kudła and Francziszek Pytera “Kidnapped in Tiutiurlistan”. In 1986 Bolek and Lolek ended their career with a full length feature by Stanislaw Dulz “Bolek and Lolek in the Wild West”.

The beginning of the nineties started wit a series of children’s films - “Civilisation” (co-produced with Kratki Film in Prague), TV productions such as ”The Journey to Stories”, “Mr. Messy’s Story", “Karrypel Against the Peas”, “Scenes from the Life of a Dragon” (jointly with Animapol, Łódź), “Between Us Storks”, “ The School for Wisemen” (a film for adults) and a TV co-production of the second part to “The Adventure of Leon the Fox” and a feature made for Norskfilm (three novels) entitled “Det var en gang”. In 2009 a premiere of "The Copernicus' Star" took place.

During the course of nearly fifty years many famous artist worked on the films produced in Bielsko-Biala. To mention but a few, the composers: Grazyna Bacewicz, Jerzy Harald, Lucjan Kaszynski, Stefan Kisielewski, Krzysztof Komeda ,Andrzej Wasowski and graphic artists : Andrzej Czeczot, Jerzy Flisak, Adam Kilian, Zbigniew Lengren, Eryk Lipinski, Olga Siemaszko and Janusz Stanny. The Studio has produced over 1000 films and received around 250 prizes at Polish and International Festivals.