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Paweł Pawlikowski After Returning from the USA: I’m Not Moving to Hollywood
Paweł Pawlikowski na planie "Kobiety z piątej dzielnicy", fot.Jean-Claude Lother / SPI International Polska.
Paweł Pawlikowski on the set of The Woman in the Fifth, photo: Jean-Claude Lother / SPI International Polska

I was really surprised to learn that this film works – because it’s universal – in so many contexts. People realised that this is about something bigger than a historical explanation or some specifically Polish issues - says Paweł Pawlikowski, the director of the Oscar-awarded film Ida.

Paweł Pawlikowski, who returned to Warsaw with his Oscar on Thursday, reassures us that he wants to continue living and working in Poland, rather than leaving for Hollywood.

At the 87th gala of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which took place in Los Angeles on 22nd February, 2015, Pawlikowski was presented the golden statuette for Best Foreign Language Film for his film Ida.

When he talked with the press at Warsaw's Chopin airport on Thursday, he emphasised his satisfaction regarding Ida’s universal message, which is accepted and understood in so many countries.

I was really surprised to learn that this film works – because it’s universal – in so many contexts. People realised that this is about something bigger than a historical explanation or some specifically Polish issues. This was surprising to me. I wanted it like this, but I’d never dreamt it would go as well as it did.
 – the director admitted.

When asked about reactions to Ida in Poland, not just the praise and congratulations, but the accusations of anti-Semitic and anti-Polish sentiment, he replied:

I’ve stopped listening to them. I’ve been aware for quite some time that some horrible things are happening. But well, I got used to it, no problem. I’ve been accused of many things. But how long can it last? I’ve slightly lost my interest in listening. 

He added:

Then it was taken to America. Everyone was shocked to find out that in Poland people regard this film as anti-Polish and anti-Semitic.

The film which has wowed audiences worldwide and garnered international critical acclaim, including... Read more about: Much Ado About Ida


When he was asked whether such reactions scare him away – as a director who returned to Poland after years abroad – he replied: 

No, let’s not exaggerate. I’ve got friends here. Warsaw is my city (…). We’re in the centre of Europe, London is two hours away. One can always go back.
 – he joked.

In Pawlikowski's opinion, Ida's Oscar success can change the way the world perceives Polish cinema:

It'll certainly be noticed more by festival selectors and various commissions – because until recently, they’d ignored us a bit. And maybe it will motivate Polish creators to make slightly more difficult films. Not made “for the Oscar”, surprisingly enough, because this film wasn’t made for an Oscar, so much so that it's fun and ridiculous. 

When asked whether winning the Oscar gives him a sense of artistic freedom or rather a sense of artistic obligation, Pawlikowski replied:

Neither. It gives me some extra power for my next project. But I will still face creative problems – they'll always be there, because it’s always difficult.

He is already planning some new projects. He admitted that he wants to continue his co-operation with Łukasz Żal:

As long as he’s not too busy, because he's sure to receive many offers now. I'd love to, he’s a great guy. Not just as a camera operator, but as a person. I decided that from now on, I will only be working with people I like, with good people, which isn’t too easy in film, yet I think it was nearly accomplished on the set of Ida and it should be accomplished in my next project. 

Łukasz Żal, photo: Michał Zacharow / Reporter East News
Łukasz Żal, born 24th June, 1981, is one of the most talented young cinematographers in Poland. His work on Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida, the most spectacular cinematographic debut in many years, was nominated for an Academy Award for Cinematography.


The director was also asked if his next film will have a Polish topic or a plot which takes place in Poland. Pawlikowski stressed that he wants to make films with universal meaning:

I don’t think it’s a Polish topic. I’m interested in universal issues. Where they take place – that’s not as relevant. But probably in Poland. Because I still have a lot of stories to tell here.

 He announced, however, that he won’t make a film about contemporary Poland:

I lived here a while ago. Now I realised that I will never understand the contemporary Poland completely. All of these reactions – I still don’t understand what’s going on here.

Pawlikowski also reassured that he will continue to create the artistic films, saying:

What should I do? At my age I won’t change.

Even after winning an Oscar he’s not going to move to Hollywood to pursue his career there.

It’s not authorial cinema over there. Unless one is an American who has grown and developed there. Like Wes Anderson. I want to make my own films and to control the whole process myself. It’s really difficult to do that in the States.
reasoned the director.

Pawlikowski brought the Oscar statuette to Warsaw.

It’s heavy.  That’s good, it’s easy to wave, you can work out with it, but two would be better
– he joked. 

When he was asked whether the statuette for Ida would now be “hidden in his drawer or made available to view somewhere”, he replied:

I don’t know. Maybe it should be exhibited somewhere, if it’s that popular?

Paweł Pawlikowski has also listed his future plans during his meeting with the press at the Warsaw airport: To get away, to have a good sleep, to take a bath, to rest. To dissociate myself from the commotion.

Source: PAP, transl. Agata Dudek 27/02/2015