Hanna Polak

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Hanna Polak is an acclaimed director and producer, of Oscar nomination fame. She has been honored worldwide for her works for many documentaries and short feature films. Besides this, she also works as photographer and cinematographer and jury for many International Film Festivals.

Early life[edit]

She was born in 1967 in Katowice, Poland.

From 1987–88 she worked as a stage performer in the Theatre of Entertainment, Chorzov. From 1989–91 Polak studied acting and theatre at the Acting School in Wroclav and Warsaw. She graduated from the Cinematography Division of the Cinematography Institute of the Russian Federation in Moscow.


In 2002, she was awarded Best Producer of Documentary and Short Fiction Movies at the International Film Festival in Kraków, Poland for Railway Station Ballad.

In 2004, she completed work on The Children of Leningradsky in collaboration with HBO. The Children of Leningradsky received many awards internationally, including an Oscar nomination, an International Documentary Association Award for Best Documentary, two Emmy nominations, and the Gracie Allen Award, given by Women in Radio and Television. The movie was enthusiastically accepted by critics. Hanna has been advocating for the case of homeless children all over the world, in countries that include Russia, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mexico. At the request of UNICEF, she recently wrote an article on the subject of child homelessness for UNICEF’s publication covering the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of the Right of the Child.

In 2004, Polak also completed work on her independent short film, Al - Tribute to Albert Maysles, a biography of the life of legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles. “Al” first opened at the Documentary Film Festival in Kraków, Poland, where Maysles received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2005, Polak was a jury member for the International Film Festival of Documentary and Short Fiction Movies in Kraków. She was also awarded the “Platinum Goat” award at the Festival “Ale Kino” in Poznan, Poland.

Also in 2005, she was awarded the Crystal Mirror award by the Zwierciadło (Mirror) magazine in Poland, an award that recognizes “people of dialogue, those who unite, not divide.” Stone Silence won her an award from the Kiev Film Festival for “Artistic Mastery of Photographing” for her cinematography work.

In 2006, Polak’s works won her third prize in the UNICEF International PhotographyCompetition: Photo of the Year

Since 2006 she has been an expert for the Polish Ministry of Culture, evaluating documentary projects for financing by the Polish Film Institute.


Polak has worked on various documentaries and feature films, including Stone Silence, shot in Afghanistan; Warsaw–Look from the East; Orange Revolution; Faces of Homelessness, Shopping Malls’ Girls and others. Not only this she has been involved in charitable activities in Russia since 1995. In 1997 she founded and later collaborated with Active Child Aid to help the underprivileged children of Russia. For her charitable efforts, Polak was awarded the prestigious Golden Heart Award in 2006, received in the presence of Sophia Loren and Jessica Lange and millions of viewers on Russian NTV Television.
She has also offered many visiting lectures at many Universities worldwide including the University of Guadalajara, Mexico; CCUNY; North Texas University; MIIS; and Middlebury College in the United States.
As an acclaimed photographer and cinematographer, Polak’s works have appeared on major television networks worldwide including HBO, ABC, Canal+, Belgium Radio and Television, France-2, Fuji TV, ITN, TVP, TVN, NTV, and many others. They have been published in various magazines and newspapers, including Ogonyok (Russia), Avisa Norland (Norway), Olivia (Poland), Newsweek (Poland), and the Los Angeles Times. Her photography has been greatly instrumental in helping the children of Russia.


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