Kriwaczek, Paul 1937-

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KRIWACZEK, Paul 1937-

PERSONAL:

Born 1937, in Vienna, Austria; immigrated to London, England, 1939. Education: Certified dental surgeon, England, 1962.

ADDRESSES:

Home—12 Wessex Gardens, London NW11 9RT, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. E-mail—Paul[email protected].

CAREER:

Writer, director, producer, and consultant. Practicing dental surgeon; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), specialist in Central and South Asian affairs, producer. Independent writer, 1990s—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Awards and prizes from Royal Television Society, UK Technology Press, City of Basle, International Broadcasters, Chicago International Film Festival, New York Festival of the Arts, and others.

WRITINGS:

Documentary for the Small Screen, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1997.

In Search of Zarathustra, Weidenfeld & Nicholson (London, England), 2002, published as In Search of Zarathustra: The First Prophet and the Ideas That Changed the World, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

Director, producer, or executive producer of documentary films and television programs and episodes for the BBC, as well as for several other projects, including (as field producer and director) The Great Ships, Perpetual Motion Films, Los Angeles, CA; (as director) Islam in America, IIS, Los Angeles, CA; and (as producer) Tala'a al-Badru Aleina (documentary and music video), for Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens).

WORK IN PROGRESS:

A book on the Yiddish civilization of Eastern Europe.

SIDELIGHTS:

Paul Kriwaczek is a prize-winning documentary filmmaker who was born in Vienna and fled the Nazi threat with his parents at the age of two. The family eventually settled in England where Kriwaczek was educated and became certified as a dental surgeon. He spent two years practicing in Kabul, after which he joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), thus beginning a long career as a producer, director, and writer.

Kriwaczek shares his experience in Documentary for the Small Screen, in which he emphasizes the importance of showing, not telling. He covers the essentials, from choosing equipment to researching, script writing, and editing.

Rob van Sheers reviewed the volume for IDFA, the magazine of Amsterdam's International Documentary Film Festival, calling it "a highly instructive volume, really—both for aspiring and well-versed filmmakers, but also for the reader who does not feel the immediate urge to pick up the home video him-or herself.… The author offers us the opportunity to look behind the camera. It is true, many other books deal with that, but they are rarely written as lucidly as Documentary for the Small Screen."

Kriwaczek's In Search of Zarathustra, published in the United States as In Search of Zarathustra: The First Prophet and the Ideas That Changed the World, is a study of the Iranian (Persian) prophet Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, said to have been born in the sixth century B.C.E., but whom Kriwaczek maintains was actually born earlier, between 1700 and 1500 B.C.E., which would make him a contemporary of Abraham. He contends that Zoroastrianism significantly influenced the three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all of which adopted the common beliefs in one supreme being, the battle between good and evil, heaven and hell, an afterlife, angels, the devil, and the end of the world.

In finding evidence to support his theories, Kriwaczek begins in Iran during the celebration of New Year 2000 and works back. He studies Nietzsche's interpretation of Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra); the Cathers, a heretical French Christian sect; the Iranian prophet Mani; and Alexander the Great's conquest of the Middle East.

Steven E. Alford wrote for the Houston Chronicle Online that "this story is not for the faint of heart. We travel to obscure places whose names have changed multiple times over the centuries. We are introduced to even more obscure names (with multiple variants).… What Kriwaczek has done is establish a fascinating correlation between ideas ancient and not-so-ancient, but whether the evidence establishes a causal connection among these ideas remains to be analyzed by a host of scholars from several disciplines: comparative religion, archaeology, textual analysis, history, and others."

A Kirkus Reviews contributor called In Search of Zarathustra "a lively, always captivating blend of comparative religion, cultural history, literary travel, and eccentric trivia that deserves a broad readership among the spiritually inclined." A Publishers Weekly reviewer said that it "is the best and most thorough survey of Zoroastrianism and its prophet Zarathustra to date."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of In Search of Zarathustra: The First Prophet and the Ideas That Changed the World, p. 959.

IDFA, September, 1998, Rob van Scheers, review of Documentary for the Small Screen.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of In Search of Zarathustra, p. 1676.

Library Journal, Gary P. Gillum, review of In Search of Zarathustra, p. 119.

Publishers Weekly, January 13, 2003, review of In Search of Zarathustra, p. 54.

ONLINE

Guardian Online (London, England), http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (July 5, 2003), review of In Search of Zarathustra.

Houston Chronicle Online,http://www.chron.com/ (March 13, 2003), Steven E. Alford, review of In Search of Zarathustra.

Paul Kriwaczek Home Page,http://www.kriv.demon.co.uk/ (October 1, 2003).

Vohuman.org,http://www.vohuman.org/ (summer, 2003), review of In Search of Zarathustra.*