The Debt

Krzysztof Krauze

Poland, 1999


The film tells a story of two young businessmen blackmailed by a gangster. After many beatings, up to their ears in debts contracted to pay the protection money, suffering from a nervous breakdown, without even the slightest hope of getting any kind of help from the police, the victims take matters in their own hands and commit a crime on their torturers. The film, as has been later revealed, is very loosely based on a real story of a gangster’s victims Artur Bryliński and Sławomir Sikora.


Krzysztof Krauze

Film director and screenwriter. Born in 1953 in Warsaw. Died on December 24, 2014. He graduated from the Faculty of Cinematography of the Film School in Łódź, but from the very beginning considered a career of a director. In the period 1978-83 he cooperated with the “SE-MA-FOR” Short Format Film Studio in Łódź. At the beginning of the eighties of the previous century he decided to emigrate, but, having failed to get recognition in his profession abroad, he returned to his home country.

From 1983 to 1985 he cooperated with the Karol Irzykowski Studio and then, from 1995, with the Tor Team. At the beginning of the nineties he made advertisements. He was also for some time a member of the Programme Council of the Andrzej Munk Television Debut Studio and the Artistic Council of the Karol Irzykowski Studio. In 2001 Krzysztof Krauze became a member of the European Film Academy and in 2007 – a member of the Management Board of the Polish Filmmakers Association. In 2008 he was appointed the President of the Board of the Polish Film Institute.


  • 1988 – Nowy Jork – czwarta rano (New York, 4 a.m.)
  • 1996 – Gry uliczne (Street Games)
  • 1999 – The Debt (Polish: Dług)
  • 2000 – Wielkie rzeczy (Great Things)
  • 2004 – My Nikifor (Polish: Mój Nikifor)
  • 2006 – Plac Zbawiciela (Saviour Square)
  • 2013 – Papusza
  • 2016 – Ptaki śpiewają w Kigali (Birds Sing in Kigali, posthumously)


Director: Krzysztof Krauze

Writing Credits: The original original script was written by Krzysztof Krauze (the director of the film) and Jerzy Morawski

Art Direction: Bartosz Prokopowicz

Color: Colour

Duration: 97′

Andrzej Chyra,
Robert Gonera,
Jacek Borcuch
Cezary Kosiński
Joanna Szurmiej-Rzączyńska
Agnieszka Warcholska

• 1999, Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia – Golden Lions
Best Actor Award for Andrzej Chyra
Best Score Award for Michał Urbaniak
Best Film Award for Krzysztof Krauze
Best Film Producer Award for Juliusz Machulski
• 2000, Polish Film Academy – The Eagle Award
Best Film Award for Krzysztof Krauze
Best Actor Award for Robert Gonera
Best Supporting Actor Award for Andrzej Chyra
Best Director Award for Krzysztof Krauze
Best Screenplay Award for Jerzy Morawski and Krzysztof Krauze
• 2001, Philadelphia (International Film Festival)
Best Director Award for Krzysztof Krauze


Tadeusz Sobolewski, Gazeta Wyborcza, November 19, 1999

Lech Kurpiewsk Film 11/1999

Monika Maszewska-Łupniak, Współczesne lęki, volume 16 Filmoteka szkolna


Krzysztof Krauze described The Debt in the following words:
“The film, despite belonging to the thriller genre, is, in fact, a reflection on the nature of crime. It shows what fear can do with ordinary men. The characters’ world becomes limited to only one thing – the unspoken threat. Their hierarchy of values is reduced to a simple choice: victory or defeat. However, apart from its dark aspects, the
message of The Debt is not entirely negative. It also tells about love that helps the main character find his moral compass again. The Debt does not offer an unambiguous answer to the question at which point the characters made a mistake. It only shows moments when they lacked the willpower and gave in to their weakness and hysteria. It show the price one pays for that. As the film is a story about ordinary men, it seems to ask the viewer: what would YOU do in such a situation? I think that in times when the Christian Decalogue becomes for young people a set of empty platitudes, such a reflection is very needed.”

“(…) The question about the origins of evil is answered by the director (Krauze) himself in a feature article:
“We want to be free, only to become slaves of our own desires. And the thing about desires is that they cannot be fulfilled.” He also adds that “fear arises when our plans and dreams are threatened. Modern media that promote the consumerist lifestyle and happiness as a result of possession have an enormous share in multiplying our desires. Thus, as a consequence, they also have a share in violence.” (Tygodnik Powszechny, issue 11/2002)

Director and his actors Andrzej Chyra 
The Debt was a real turning point in my career, as I started making a living as an actor and thus gave up my other occupations. I remember that period as an attempt do something which made sense. In those times this was all one could aspire to,” Andrzej Chyra admits. He also adds that almost all actors playing in the film where at the time young and full of enthusiasm, while the director Krzysztof Krauze “wanted to prove to his critics that he
was also able to make a film that was not overly optimistic.”

A. Chyra about his part in The Debt



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