Long before Robert Downey Jr., cinema had another iron hero. In his 1981 classic Man of Iron, Polish director Andrzej Wajda brought to the screen a union leader fighting for reform and the birth of the Solidarity movement. The film was a stand-out feature at the 19th NYFF, and we are excited to present it once again tomorrow night at 6:00pm as part of our ongoing series 50 Years at the New York Film Festival.

Man of Iron is a film as important politically as it is artistically. It garnered an Academy Award nomination and took home the the Palme d’Or at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, but its cultural impact was just as powerful. Released just month's before Poland declared martial law and enacted strict union crackdowns, Wajda was able to show the world the conditions and experiences of his country's blue collar workers. Though a dramatization, brilliantly acted by Jerzy Radziwilowicz, the film exuded truth and sincerety. While the specifics of the issues may have changed over time, the themes of inequality and workers' struggles are just as important three decades later.

As powerful as the message is, the film is character-driven at heart. Radziwilowicz tackles two roles—the inspiring union leader and, through flashback, his hard-working father. Facing their own struggles with distinct motivations, Wajda makes the two workers into unique, but equally compelling, individuals. Roger Ebert said, “the best things in Man of Iron are the purely personal moments, the scenes where Wajda is concerned with the human dimensions of his characters rather than their ideological struggles.”

For more information on our ongoing, year-by-year survey of the history of the New York Film Festival, including new additions to the lineup by Clint Eastwood, Andrei Tarkovsky, Raul Ruiz and Michael Moore, as well as tickets and showtimes, visit the series page.

Below is a full list of all the films that played alongside Man of Iron at the NYFF '81:
Chariots of Fire
Hugh Hudson, Great Britain, 1981

Bob the Gambler (Bob le flambeur)
Jean-Pierre Melville, France, 1956

Lightning Over Water
Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders, West Germany/Sweden, 1980
Shown with Act of God, Peter Greenaway, Great Britain

Graduate First (Passe ton bac d’abord)
Maurice Pialat, France, 1980
Shown with Flying Fur, George Griffin, USA

The Witness (A tanu)
Peter Bascó, Hungary, 1968
Shown with Egg City, David Kellogg, USA

The Last to KnowBonnie Friedman, USA, 1981

Soldier Girls
Nicholas Broomfield and Joan Churchill, USA, 1981

The Beads of One Rosary (Paciorki jednego różańca)
Kazimierz Kutz , Poland, 1981
Shown with Coming Soon, Eugene Ferraro, USA

István Szabó, Hungary/West Germany, 1981

Tighten Your Belts, Bite the Bullet
James Gaffney, Martin Lucas and Jonathan Miller, USA, 1980

Resurgence: The Movement for Equality Versus the Ku Klux Klan
Pamela Yates and Thomas Sigel, USA, 1981

Fit to be Untied (Matti da slegare/Nessuno o tutti)
Silvano Agosti, Marco Bellocchio, Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, Italy, 1975.

The Mystery of Oberwald (Il mistero di Oberwald)
Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1980

Murals Murals (Mur mur)
Agnés Varda, USA, 1980
Shown with Documenteur: An Emotion Picture, Agnés Varda, USA

Taxi to the John (Taxi zum klo)
Frank Ripploh, West Germany, 1980
Shown with Friday and Clyde, Kerry L.B. Feltham, USA

Only a Mother (Bara en mor)
Alf Sjöberg, Sweden, 1949
Shown with Karin Månsdotter, Alf Sjöberg
(A NYFF Retrospective Program)

Trances (Transes)
Ahmed El Maanouni, France/Morocco, 1981
Shown with Overseas, Jacques Fieschi, France

Contract (Kontrakt)
Krzysztof Zanussi, Poland, 1980
Shown with America is Waiting, Bruce Conner, USA

Hopper’s Silence
Brian O’Doherty, USA, 1980

We Were German Jews
Michael Blackwood, USA/West Germany, 1981

Passion of Love (Passione d’amore)
Ettore Scola, Italy/France, 1981

Looks and Smiles
Kenneth Loach, Great Britain, 1981
Shown with Mirrored Reason, Stan VanDerBeek, USA

The Aviator’s Wife (La femme de l’aviateur)
Eric Rohmer, France, 1981
Shown with The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, Ian Moo Young, USA
Also, Couples and Robbers, Clare Peploe, Great Britain

Le Pont Du Nord
Jacques Rivette, France, 1981

Stations of the Elevated
Manfred Kirchheimer, USA, 1980
Shown with Vernon, Florida, Errol Morris, USA

My Dinner With Andre
Louis Malle, USA, 1981
Shown with Cecilia, Diana Michener, USA

Beau Père
Bertrand Blier, France,198l

The Woman Next Door (La femme d'à côté)
François Truffaut, France, 1981

Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza)
Andrej Wajda, Poland, 1981

The Great Dictator, Charles Chaplin
The Americanization of Emily, Arthur Hiller
The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Larry Cohen
First Family, Buck Henry
The Great McGinty, Preston Sturges
Winter Kills, William Richert
The Hungry i Reunion, Thomas Cohen
El Salvador: Another Vietnam, Glenn Silber and Tete Vasconcellas
Nixon: From Checkers to Watergate, Charles Braverman
Smile, Michael Ritchie
Putney Swope, Robert Downey
An Acquired Taste, Ralph Arlyck
Short Cuts,” satirical shorts by Janet Perlman, James McPhearson, R.O. Blechman, Robert Nelson, Jeff Carpenter, Bruce Conner, J. Hoberman, Daniel Nauke, Andrew Lack, George Griffin, Jimmy Picke
Taking Off, Milos Forman.