Agnieszka Piotrowska is an award winning filmmaker, author and theorist. She worked in the industry for many years making films for the BBC, Channel 4, Channel Five, National Geographic and Discovery before in 2012 obtaining her PhD at Birkbeck, University of London, in psychoanalysis and film under the supervision of Stephen Frosh and Laura Mulvey. Her doctoral thesis and subsequent book Psychoanalysis and Ethics in Documentary Film (2014) interrogates power and love in the documentary encounter – a theme that recurs throughout her creative and academic work.
Piotrowska’s documentaries have featured individuals who have questioned social and sexual norms, venturing into uncharted territories. She is particularly well known for her iconic documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower (2008) about women who love objects and not people. She sees their challenge to heteronormative standards as a political gesture.
Since 2012 Piotrowska has embarked on a series of films set in Harare, Zimbabwe, and a post doctoral research project initiated by an arts grant from the British Council. The work explores the dynamics of history, identity, memory and gender-relations in a post-colonial culture. Lovers in Time or how we didn’t get arrested in Harare (2015) is an internationally acclaimed film that documents the tragi-comic complications of putting on a play which dramatizes a country’s history, the history haunted by the ghosts of unredeemed crimes and injustices. Her new fiction feature film Escape (2016) tells the story of a mixed race young man from London, arriving in Harare to locate his father and family roots, and finding more than he had bargained for. Escape is a Thinking Films production, which is a collaboration between Piotrowska and Zimbabwe’s notable filmmaker Joe Njagu.
Piotrowska has also made two shorts featuring the passionate relationship of a German woman Flora Veit-Wild with Zimbabwe’s iconic writer, Dambudzo Marechera. There is a plan to make a feature film inspired by that story in order to explore how a traumatic historical past affects intimate relationships.
As an author and theorist, Agnieszka Piotrowska is known for several books on the relation between psychoanalysis, applied philosophy and film. Her most recent book Black and White: Cinema, Politics and the Arts in Zimbabwe (Routledge, 2016) complements her filmmaking, giving her work in Zimbabwe an additional reflexive turn, taking in literature and the theatre, including intense discussions notably also with women filmmakers and providing a vivid example of how film history, film theory, gender- and postcolonial studies can enrich filmmaking practice – each both challenging and cross-fertilizing the other.
Piotrowska is a Reader in Film Theory and Practice at the University of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.