The Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Filmowa, Telewizyjna i Teatralna im. Leona Schillera w Łodzi) is the most notable academy for future actors, directors, photographers, camera operators and TV staff in Poland. It was founded on March 8, 1948 in Łódź and was initially planned to be moved to Warsaw as soon as the city was rebuilt after its destruction during World War II and the Warsaw Uprising. However, in the end the school remained in Łódź and is one of the best-known institutions of higher education in the city.
Until 1958 the school existed as two completely different schools: one for actors and the other for filmmakers. The schools and the Polish cinema industry were moved from Warsaw to the nearby city of Łódź after World War II. This move was initially seen as a temporary measure, thus the name of the actors'school was The National Higher School of Theatre in Warsaw with seat in Łódź. Its creator and the first rector was the renowned Polish actor Leon Schiller, current namesake of the school. In 1949 it was divided into two branches; one actually moved to Warsaw and the other one remained in Łódź under the directorship of Kazimierz Dejmek (since 1950).
The years leading up to the merger in 1958 were those in which notable artists of the Polish Film School increased its popularity and created the reputation of the Łódź Film School as the most liberal and least Communist institution of higher education in Poland. Among the most notable alumni of that period were Andrzej Munk, Janusz Morgenstern, Andrzej Wajda and Kazimierz Kutz. In 1954 they were joined by Roman Polanski.
After 1958 the school became one of the most notable cultural think-tanks of Poland, with many outsiders and artists not supported by the Communist authorities joining it. Various discussion clubs and relative liberty of speech promoted by the new rector, Jerzy Toeplitz, added to its value. For instance, two of the students of the university (Jerzy Matuszkiewicz and Witold Sobociński) became the first jazz musicians in Poland after WWII to be allowed by the authorities to organize a concert. Kirk Douglas visited the school in 1966, his visit was documented in "Kirk Douglas"documentary.
After the events of March 1968, the period of liberty came to an end. Toeplitz was fired, as were most of the tutors. However, with the advent of Edward Gierek and his regime, the school once again started to bloom.
The School has three Oscar-winning alumni: Roman Polanski, Andrzej Wajda and Zbigniew Rybczyński.