Maria Mamona

Maria Mamona

Jury Member 2020

Maria Mamona is one of the most renowned theatrical and cinematographic actresses on the Polish scene. As she stated herself, she approached acting during her primary-school years by participating in various competitions, up to the top places nationally. Her parents would have liked her to have a solid profession for her, but Maria graduated in acting from the Academy of Dramatic Art Aleksander Zelwerowicz in Warsaw in 1977. Immediately afterwards she made her debut at the important Wspólczesny theater in Warsaw acting in the role of Helena in Mr. Jowialski.

Versatile artist, she has acted in several films and TV series, directed by the most important Polish directors such as Ryszard Bugajski (her husband), Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland, Małgorzata Szumowska. Mamona herself boasts numerous awards in her career: an award at the Zabrze Drama Festival for acting as the  “wife” in Wojciech Tomczyk’s Nuremberg and a Best Actress nomination for Felix Award in The Wardrobe written by Yukio Mishima.

One of her latest interpretations stands out in particular, when she acted under the direction Ryszard Bugajski’s direction, in Blindness (Zaćma), presented in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival, as well as in International Film Festivals in Palm Springs (2017), Atlanta (2017), Bydgoszcz (2016), Teheran (2017), Hong Kong (2017) and at the Polish Film Festivals in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. In Blindness (Zaćma), Maria Mamona plays the part of Julia Brystiger, nicknamed “Bloody Mary”, a criminal of communist times and a scholar, famous for torturing prisoners. When she was asked how it was to interpret such a controversial role, she answered: “I believe that it is the actor and his ability to interpret a role that brings the hero to life in our imagination. We process and interpret a character through our sensibility and personality. It is our imagination that makes us become the hero we interpret. I cannot say ‘This is me, but this is no longer me” because I cannot truly say when my personalities are going to be  revealed. ”For this role Mamona was awarded as Best Actress at Prowincjonalia Festival in Wrzesnia and at the Polish Film Festival in New York.

In Elisabeth (2018), the short film directed by Wojciech Klimala that is going to be presented at the Short Film Festival, Maria Mamona stars as  a retired hairdresser who participates in a beauty contest following her son’s advice.  A borderline character that splits herself between being dramatic and ironic, just like the actress has done in many other occasions when acting in grotesque and atypical roles.

Maria considers these last years as the best of her career thanks to her transition to the big screen. When asked about the new role of women in contemporary cinema, Mamona replies: “I have heard an interview to Hellen Mirren, where she claims that in the past women were part of a film crew only as hairdressers, a make-up artists or script supervisors.  Now things are no longer this way. Men are now a minority and the film industry counts more women  (…) Great stars, beautiful actresses… but  it is difficult to find a script for a female main character  in Polish cinema and not only.”

Maria Mamona’s career, her eclecticism in interpreting difficult roles, not always “positive”, in addition to the intensity with which she manages to perfectly master the interpretation of her characters, make her  one of the most interesting names on the international interpretive scene.