AWARD-WINNING filmmaker Tomasz Malinowski has joined the teaching team at Edge Hill.

Tomasz is involved in the development of a proposed new degree in Media (Film and Television), which, subject to validation, will start in September 2003. He started teaching at Edge Hill in February and will lecture on the new programme when it starts.

It is a new challenge for the renowned director and producer, who has made more that 70 films and television programmes and won awards at several international film festivals.

Polish-born Tomasz came to the UK in 1982, after the imposition of martial law in Poland by General Jaruzelski. He was forced to leave because of his links with the Solidarity movement – he co-founded the Solidarity Film Unit in Warsaw in 1980.

He started working as an independent producer and director, making programmes for the BBC and Channel 4 – mostly documentaries and current affairs programmes.

He said: “At that time British television was probably the best in the world so it was very attractive to someone like me, but I was in a very strange situation. I had left behind my home, my family, my profession, career, everything.

“I found the great difference between working in Communist Eastern Europe and Britain was that there although there were bureaucratic and censorship restrictions in Eastern Europe, I didn’t have to think about the production process at all. In Eastern Europe it was 98 per cent creativity and two per cent bureaucracy and money hurdles, here it was the complete reverse. It was 98 per cent looking for funding and dealing with commissioning editors.”

Despite these differences, Tomasz built a highly successful career within British television. But he also explored his interest in education, with a visiting Professorship on the film and video programme at the University of Regina, Canada, and as Head of Film and Video at the University of Portsmouth.

The development of the new Media (Film and Television) degree at Edge Hill has given Tomasz the chance to get involved in shaping a new generation of filmmakers.

He said: “I really like teaching because I learn from the students as much as I teach them. It is fascinating to work with students who have never produced anything and to be able to form them from the beginning.

“Young people today have difficulty telling their story. They don’t talk, they don’t write about their experiences. I would like the students at Edge Hill to express themselves by making films about people and about their world.”

Tomasz said a film production course in a small community such as Ormskirk presented its own challenges for students and teachers alike.

“It will be an exciting challenge. When there does not seem to be very much happening it is up to the filmmaker to squeeze the subject out of what is there, or go out and investigate the wider world,” he said.

“If you ask a student in London to make a portrait of a person as a subject of a documentary film they are overwhelmed by the human circus around them. You walk out of the door and there are street musicians, homeless people, peace marches…here they have to try a little bit harder, but that is good.”

Tomasz is also keen to exploit fully links within Edge Hill which will benefit his students. He said: “There are many institutional links to be built with other departments. For example, creative writing, journalism, computer graphics, drama and dance are areas that link organically with film. The film students can use the actors, the actors can learn how to act in front of the camera.”

Places on the new degree are now being filled and Tomasz is hoping to attract passionate students with talent who are keen to express themselves through film and eager to learn technical skills and professional production practices.

He said: “What we want to do is create a strong production base for people who want to make films, for those who have some talent, some storytelling ability.

“We do not simply want to produce technicians. We want to create people with ideas, who will have the prospect of going on to be programme makers and filmmakers.”

Carol Poole, Head of Media and Communication, said: “We are delighted to have attracted a filmmaker of the calibre and stature of Tomasz. We feel the student experience and profile of the department will benefit immensely from his undoubted skills and knowledge.”