Hanna Maria Sawka was born in communist Poland in 1975. Before she was one year old, her family was exiled due to artist father Jan Sawka’s political opposition activities. Her family was given refuge in the United States, so Hanna grew up in New York until she was 11, when the family moved to the Woodstock area, just north of New York City. Hanna completed her English/Theater B.A. cum laude with high honors in theater at Smith College in Northampton, MA. In 1997, Hanna won a Kosciuszko Foundation grant to study directing at the Polish National Film, TV and Theatre School, alma mater of directors Krzysztof Kieslowski, lifetime-achievement Oscar© recipient Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski (Best Director Oscar© for “The Pianist”), among others. From 1999 - 2002, while still a graduate student, Hanna directed bimonthly crime re-enactments for a nationally broadcast prime-time crime show (Polish National Television). One of her episodes lead to the arrest and apprehension of a rapist and murderer. She completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Film, TV and Theatre Directing in January 2004.

She has directed two full-length plays. An adaptation of Japanese classic “Love Suicide at Amijima” by Chikamatsu Monzaemon was staged at the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theater in Northampton, MA in 1996. In 2002, Hanna directed a politically controversial play, “The Carcass” by Richard Corozine, at the STU Theater in Poland’s theater capital of Krakow. Since 1999, she has written, produced and directed 5 short films, both fiction and documentary, which together have garnered 14 festival nominations around the world and awards that include a recent “Best of the Festival” award at Mediawave in Gyor, Hungary and an “Audience Choice” first prize at the Red Wasp Film Festival in Bryant, Texas. In 2004, Lake Isle Press published “At Hanka’s Table,” a culinary autobiography recounting the Sawka family’s survival and success in the art world, which Hanna co-authored with her mother, Hanka Sawka. The book has garnered praise from critics, including the New York Times. Recently, Hanna completed a feature-length documentary called “Beyond Iconic.” It is a portrait of the Magnum photographer Dennis Stock, who created some of the most famous photos of the 20th century. “Beyond Iconic” was a finalist at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival and it was an official selection at the IFC’s DOC NYC Film Festival, Starz Denver Film Festival, and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. The film has enjoyed positive reviews in Filmmaker Magazine and other publications and it is currently going to broadcast and educational distribution.