Zbigniew Rybczyński (b.1949) is a Polish filmmaker, director, cinematographer, screenwriter, creator of experimental animated films, and multimedia artist.
He studied cinematography at the Łódź Film School in Warsaw (1969-1973); his thesis films were Take Five and Plamuz. During his studies, he became a founding member of the Film Form Workshop (Warsztat Formy Filmowej), the most important Polish neo avant-garde group. From 1973 to 1980, Rybczyński made his own films at the Se-Ma-For Studio in Łódź. During the political unrest in Poland in 1980, he was the head of the founders’ committee of the Se-Ma-For studio branch of Solidarity.
In 1982, during the martial law period, he managed to arrange a job contract that enabled him to leave Poland for Vienna, where he applied for political asylum. The following year, he and his family emigrated to the US, where they lived in Los Angeles and then New York. The first works he made in the US were the short experimental videos “The Day Before” and “The Discreet Charm of the Diplomacy”, both made in 1984. In 1985, he launched his own studio – ZBIG VISION – in New York, which he subsequently outfitted with the latest video, computer and HDTV technology. It was in this studio that he made his most important American films, including Steps (1987), The Fourth Dimension (1988), The Orchestra (1990), Manhattan (1991), and Kafka (1992). Between 1984 and 1989, he made more than 30 music videos. One of them – “Imagine” (1986), made for John Lennon’s composition – was the first music video ever made using high-definition technology.
In 1994, Rybczyński moved to Germany, where he co-founded the Centrum Für Neue Bildgestaltung, an experimental film center in Berlin, and later worked in Cologne. He returned to Los Angeles in 2001, where he worked for the Ultimatte Corporation and continued his research in the area where art, science, and digital technology intersect working out new standards for moving images. Among the results of Rybczyński’s long-term research and experimentation are his inventions in the field of electronic-image technology, for which he holds several US patents, and which are widely used in the film and TV industries.
In March 2009, Rybczyński returned to Poland, taking up residence in Wrocław, where he set up the Center for Audiovisual Technologies (CeTa) at the site of the city’s historic Feature Film Studio. The center, which officially opened in January 2013, includes a state-of-the-art studio designed by Rybczyński for the production of multi-layer film images, and an institute for research into images and visual technologies. After Rybczyński discovered and published huge corruption in CeTA, they fired him and subsequently he declared the renunciation of his Polish citizenship.