Ford was educated in art history at Warsaw University and made his first short films as the Polish cinema’s silent era drew to an end
His first feature film, "Mascot", was made in 1930 and did little to advance his career. At this time he became a cofounder of the Society of the Devotees ot the Artistic Film, better known as START. Ford and friends, such as the director Wanda Jakubowska and the film historian Jerzy Toeplitz, aimed to raise the artistic and technical level of Polish cinema while also winning for it wider official recognition. The group lasted until 1935, its achievements more theoretical than practical.
In 1932 Ford’s "The Street Legion", a realistic drama set in the streets of Warsaw, was a popular success. He traveled to Palestine a year later to make "Sabra", featuring the stars of the Habima Theater in a plot that dealt with a dispute over water between Zionist settlers and local Arabs. In 1937 Ford helped found a group similar to START, the Cooperative of Film Authors. From 1939, he was in the Soviet Union, where he produced films for the Red Army, becoming head of the film group of the First Polish Division in 1943. His position was further consolidated in 1945, when, with the nationalization of the Polish film industry, he became head of Film Polski.
The postwar period saw some of Ford’s best work: "Border Street", dealing with the Warsaw ghetto revolt, "The Young Chopin", "Five Boys from Barska Street", and the epic "Knights of the Teutonic Order". During these years Ford also served as head of the Lodz film school, which he had helped to found, and as director of the film production group Studio.
In the late 1960s political pressure forced Ford from his position and in 1970 he emigrated to Israel. Unable to adapt to the Israeli filmmaking climate, he made only two more films, one about Janusz Korczak, the other an adaptation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle, before his death in Los Angeles.