ur. 25 maja 1953, Mariensburg, Republika Południowej Afryki
zm. 26 lipca 2006, Sosnówka, Polska
Born on May 25, 1953, Mariensburg, the Republic of South Africa, the son of Stuart and Yvonne, who were of English origin. His mother took over household chores whereas his father, a civil engineer, travelled round the world constructing water dams. Ian had a brother and two sisters. He participated in film-making; from a dresser and a location manager assistant to a director assistant and a film producer.
As a child he took interest in art and cinema, but it was only when he came to London to study architecture that he began to pursue his dreams. Nevertheless, his interests turned out to be stronger than getting a decent job. Ultimately, he threw in his studies to work as a dresser at a theatre. The earnings being unsatisfactory, he took up a job as a bank clerk but his film ambitions and an aversion to clerical work drove him to resign.
William P. Cartrige, an English film producer to whom Ian owed so much, knew he had a potential and enough enthusiasm. He appears as a dresser assistant for the first time in the credits of Orca directed by Michael Anderson (year of production: 1976, premiere: 1977). His buoyancy, optimism, conscientiousness and a sense of humor enabled him to climb up the film career ladder. The year-long involvement in the making of The Shining, produced by Stanley Kubrick, and friendships he made not only with the director but also with other filmmakers were a quantum leap in his career. He was so engrossed in all facets of making The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood, directed by Ray Austin (premiere 1983), that he became the director assistant. At that time he was already married to Elizabeth, who took over the household and raised their children: Alexander (n. 1984) and Charlotte (n. 1986).
Ian’s initial contacts with Poland began in 1984, when he was involved in making War and Remembrance, for Polish Television. The shooting for the series was done in the area of the concentration camp in Oświęcim-Auschwitz. It was the first time he had dealt with people who were to influence his subsequent career: Branko Lustig, Lew Rywin. Branko was a Croatian film producer who had already started cooperating with film studios of America and engaged Ian in the making of such films as Gladiator (directed by Ridley Scott, premiere: 2000). Lew, who was the director of Polter Agency at that time, decided about Poland’s involvement in the production of the series and later on established Heritage Films, which provided services to a film director Tylor Hackford in the making of Proof of life (year of production: 1998, premiere: 2000). On the set of the film he met Aneta Cebula, who was working in Lew’s company. At that time he and his wife were separated. Having left Poland, Ian phoned Aneta every day and finally revealed his love for her. Together they started looking for a place to live. The climate of England being unfavorable to them, they chose Poland. On the very first visit Ian decided on the Sonenland Villa in Sosnówka, designed by Wilhelm Kiehnel at the beginning of the 20th century. Before the war Auras Sisters used to run dietary therapies there. When Ian bought it in 2002, it was in a state of dilapidation. They entered into marriage on 31 August, London.
As Aneta recalls, Ian loved Jelenia Góra. Together they toured round the surrounding areas and supervised the renovation. Ian wanted to restore the former appearance of the house. Most elements of stone and wood were made by himself during intervals between new films: Troy and Munich.
It was at the time of the renovation works that Ian found out he had cancer. According to the doctors there was every likelihood of Ian making a full recovery, which appeared to be fallacious. Ian Hickinbotham died on the way to hospital on June 26, 2006. He was buried in the old cemetery in Sosnówka. The family requested the mourners to allocate their money, which was to be spent on flowers, to the renovation of the 18th-century altar of St. Ann Samotrzecia in cemetery church of St. Marcin. The total collection following the funeral amounted to 9,000 zlotys whereas the regular payments brought dozens of thousands zlotys in all. Steven Spielberg made the most generous donation- 10,000 zlotys. The altar has been restored.
Ian loved champagne, cigars and nature. A month following his death, two trees standing near the house in Sosnówka withered for unknown reasons.
The chronological order of films co-produced by Ian Hickinbotham:
The photos have been taken from Aneta Cebula-Hickinbotham’s family archive.
English translation by Sebastian Czesnakowicz
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