The late Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski (1941- 1996) is known and respected the world over as a maker of great feature films. A much lesser known fact is that the chain-smoking director of such macabre works as A Short Film About Killing and the acclaimed Three Colours trilogy started his career churning out a series of gritty and often surprisingly charming documentaries, several of which have recently been released on a fine, twin DVD box set. Born in German-occupied Warsaw, the young Kieślowski suffered an itinerant childhood at the hands of a sick father in what must have been an interesting prelude to adulthood.At 16 he tried and failed to become a fireman, settling finally on a career in the media. After several failed attempts at entering the prestigious film school in the industrial city of Łódź, Kieślowski was eventually granted a place in 1965. Dabbling in both fiction and documentary during his studies, Kieślowski graduated a dedicated factual filmmaker in 1968. His diploma film, the 17-minute black and white Z Miasta Łodzi (From the City of Łódź), is the first of the 13 films on the DVD. Set partly inside one of Łódź’s large textile factories as well as in the city’s numerous streets and parks, the film shines a peculiar and enchanting light on daily life in the city. Opening with an exemplary young girl worker clambering on a table to lead the daily factory exercises, Z Miasta Łodzi splices together various images of Łódź with ordinary scenes from the factory floor in which the filmmaker reveals the warmth and compassion behind a humdrum industrial existence.