Halina Ketling-Prugar began editing for Polish directors in 1958 and has fifty-one credits. She edited the films of Andrzej Wajda for over twenty years, including Everything for Sale, Man of Marble, The Wedding, Landscape After Battle, and Man of Iron. Ketling-Prugar also edited Knife in the Water by Roman Polanski. In 2016, she received the “Gloria Artis”—the Medal for Merit to Culture awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
“When the director selected the shots, it was sacred and I did not protest. Often, however, it was necessary to do a trailer, which was my work and I always used material that I chose. The director, when watching the trailer, asked why those shots were not in the movie. ‘Because you did not choose them,’ I replied.
Thanks to this approach the directors later asked me to share my insights and were open to my suggestions.”
You worked with Andrzej Wajda on many of his best movies. How was your collaboration?
“Usually, it went like this: After shooting we went to the bar and he explained to me which effect he wanted to achieve. I really tried to understand and feel what he was saying. He even said once that no one understands him as I do. However, he never recognized me and my work publicly. Even worse, he kept saying that he does the editing himself in the evenings. My friends were saying: ‘Look, your Wajda says that he is editing, but we never see him working with you.’ I have never commented on their remarks, however. I learned how to edit while working on his movies because he let me work independently. In fact, everyone learns most when working alone, by making mistakes and working independently – not by sitting with a director.”
“I don’t know. Editing is still treated as an auxiliary creative profession. In a way, it is true, because this profession requires skilled handiwork and familiarity with the technique. However, I know that I have helped many directors in an artistic way and that thanks to my work their movies were a bit better. If they want to be the only real artists, however, let them be so.”
—Three extracts from “About Film Editing: A Conversation with Halina Ketling-Prugar” by Paweł Makowski. The full interview can be found in the Appendix