His films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film four times. 

He gained popularity by the films initiating the so-called Polish film school: "Kanał" ("Sewer") and "Ashes and Diamonds", in which he reappraised the times of World War II.

He directed the films embedded in the social theme of the communist system in Poland: "Man of Marble" and its continuation "Man of Iron", which was awarded the Palme d'Or at the 34th Cannes IFF.

He was awarded many times for his contribution to the development of cinematography, including in 2000 the Academy Award (Oscar) for lifetime achievement. For lifetime achievement, he was also awarded the honorary Golden Bear, Caesar, and the Golden Lion.