Zulawski was an assistant of Andrzej Wajda, the famous Polish film director. When his second film Diabel was banned in Poland he went to France, where he made L'Important c'est d'aimer (1975) with Romy Schneider.
He then returned to Poland and for two years he worked on a film which the authorities did not allow him to finish. Since then he has lived and worked mostly in France, making successful art films. He found his muse in Sophie Marceau.