Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida has won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the first Polish film to receive an award in this category.
Ida competed with the Golden Globe-awarded Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines – a pacifist story about the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict, Damián Szifrón’s black comedy Wild Tales, and Abderrahmans Sissako’s stunning Timbuktu, which received seven Cesar awards in 2015.
Upon receiving the award, Paweł Pawlikowski said:
How did I get here? Life is full of surprises. We made a film about quiet and contemplation and here we are in the center of noise and world attention.
Ida is the first Polish film to receive the award for Best Foreign Film. As many as nine films made in Poland had previously competed in this category: Knife in the Water (Nóż w wodzie) by Roman Polański, Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Pharaoh (Faraon), Jerzy Hoffman’s The Deluge (Potop), Andrzej Wajda’s The Promised Land (Ziemia obiecana), Jerzy Antczak’s Nights and Days (Noce i dnie), Andrzej Wajda’s Maids of Wilko (Panny z Wilka), Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza), Katyń, and Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness (W ciemności).
Oscar for Pawlikowski’s film is the crowning touch to the long list of awards received by Ida. The film has received approximately one hundred distinctions, at festivals in Warsaw, London, Gdynia, and Toronto, as well as five European Film Awards, the Spanish Goya Award, and a BAFTA.
Ida also received the nomination for Best Cinematography, created by Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski. As expected, the Academy Award in this category went to Emmanuel Lubezki, the author of bold cinematography in Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu. This is Lubezki’s second Oscar for cinematography – last year he received the prize for photography in Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón. This was Lubezki’s seventh Oscar nomination.
Joanna and Our Curse without an Oscar
Two Polish films competed for the Best Documentary Short: Joanna and Our Curse (Nasza klątwa). Joanna by Aneta Kopacz is an intimate portrait of Joanna Sałyga, the author of a blog titled Chustka (Scarf), on which she described her struggles with an incurable illness, and the process of coming to terms with the nearing death. Featuring Łukasz Żal’s cinematography and music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, it is one of the most poignant Polish documentaries made in 2014.
The second Polish candidate in this category, Our Curse by Tomasz Śliwiński, is a dramatic story about a disease, which affects life of an entire family. The young director has turned his camera back at himself and his relatives, in an attempt to better understand his own fears and the surrounding world. In the film, he focuses on the disease of his son Leo, who was born with Ondine’s curse (congenital central hypoventilation syndrome / CCHS), which causes cessation of breathing during sleep and necessitates a life-long mechanical ventilation. It is suffered by approximately three hundred people worldwide, and seventeen people in Poland.
Announced as Best Documentary Short was Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 produced by HBO and directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dany Perry. The film tells the story of a crisis hotline for war veterans who face depression and suicidal thoughts. It has been a definite favourite in this category.
Joanna and Our Curse are not the first Polish documentary films to be nominated for an Oscar. They have joined a collection of such prominent pictures as 89mm from Europe (89 mm od Europy) by Marcel Łoziński, The Children of Leningradsky (Dzieci z Leningradzkiego) by Hanna Polak and Andrzej Celiński and Bartek Konopka’s Rabbit à la Berlin (Królik po berlińsku).
Costume Design winner: Milena Canonero
A Pole was also competing for an Academy Award in the Best Costume Design category. Anna Biedrzycka Sheppard was nominated for her work for the film Witch by Robert Stromberg. The Award, for which the rest of the nominees included Coleen Atwood for costumes in Into the Woods, Mark Bridges for Inherent Vice, and Jacqueline Durran for Mr. Turner, went to Milena Canonero for the costume design in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
This was the Polish designer’s third Oscar nomination. In the past, she was nominated for her designs in Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg and in The Pianist by Roman Polański.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, transl. AM, February 2015