The award-winning drama from Paweł Pawlikowski, Ida, will be screened across cinemas in the US and Canada in May. The film, which premiered in Poland in 2013 and was sold to over 30 countries, has already gathered rave reviews from all sides.
Ida is a story about Polish identity forming at the junction of two historical dramas: the Holocaust and Stalinism. Directed by Paweł Pawlikowski, Ida tells the story of an orphaned young woman brought up by nuns in a convent. Before she decides to take her vows, she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. Along with her only living relative, a former communist judge, she returns to her home town where her family are buried. There, she finds out that her family was Jewish, and that she was baptised as a child to save her from the Holocaust. It is a clash of personalities and the opportunity to learn her tragic family history.
Greg Cwik's praises the picture in his review for indiewire.com:
Shot in Bergman-approved 4:3, Pawel Pawlikowski's gorgeously bleak "Ida" is a keen retrograde study of classic European cinema that simultaneously feels timeless. It reaches back to the advent of the Eastern European art film in its rhetorical musings, but it doesn't succumb to the cute conventions of a period piece, which make its setting difficult to pin down (probably somewhere in the late-1950s, given the key presence of Coltrane’s pre-A Love Supreme music in the film). But with its elegant imagery and a story that follows suit, the film has a genuine feel and demands to be taken seriously.
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Praise for Ida seems to be ubiquitous. Dana Stevens, critic for Slate, writes:
The best cinematic news of my year so far is that Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, an 80-minute black-and-white film about a young nun in post-World War II Poland, is getting a U.S. release. Over the past year, Ida has made the rounds at world film festivals, collecting prizes and rapturous responses. (It was the single best thing I saw at Sundance, and that’s in a year when I got to see Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.) But I feared that for American distributors, this spare, quiet, perfect work would seem too rarefied a product to find its place on the market. I’m glad the people at Music Box Films took a chance on the right audience finding Ida—please prove them right by finding a way to see it.)
In the New York Times, A.O. Scott writes:
Though it takes place in Poland in 1962 — a weary, disenchanted country grinding along under gray, post-Stalinist skies — Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” has some of the structure and feeling of an ancient folk tale. Its intimate drama unfolds at the crossroads where the Catholic, Jewish and Communist strains of Poland’s endlessly and bitterly contested national identity intersect.
Godfrey Cheshire reviewed the film for RogerEbert.com:
Filmed in the unusual, boxy aspect ratio of 1.37:1, and most often deployed in static long shots, the film’s images sometimes suggest Vermeer lighting with the color taken away, and the compositions manage to seem at once classical and off-handed, with the subjects often located in the screen’s two bottom quadrants. As in Bresson, the effect is to draw the viewer’s eye into the beauty of the image while simultaneously maintaining a contemplative distance from the drama.
Todd McCarthy compliments Agata Kulesza's acting in The Hollywood Reporter:
Wanda remains the most vividly drawn character. Always speaking with prosecutorial bluntness whether it be to Ida or some man who's trying to pick her up in a bar, she comes off as a disillusioned former Party believer, one who's forced to drive a beat-up old car but still wears a pearl necklace, an intrinsically elegant woman who would have ruled the roost in Paris but was fated to live and burn herself out quickly in Poland, a one-time somebody now committed to drinking and smoking and fornicating her way to oblivion. Kulesza plays her superbly, without too hard an edge.
Likewise with Farran Smith Nehmew, in the New York Post:
Both actresses are extraordinary, but Kulesza — bitter, sarcastic and tragic — carries the movie’s soul.
After winning big at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the film also received top honours at the 2014 Sarasota Film Festival. It will now garner screen time at indie and art-house cinemas in North America, with an opening at New York's Film Forum on Friday, May 2nd, ahead of other markets. It will be distributed in the US by Music Box Films. On the 9th of May, 2014 Candian distributor Films We Like will screen it in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, London, Waterloo, Regina and Saskatoon.
The film critic David Thompson states in his article for the New Republic:
Quite soon in watching Ida, you recognize that you are goinf to have to see the picture again and again. It intends to live with you. For it has a simplicity that is crammed and so concentrated, you are feeling drained. We are not used to watching so closely, or with a spirit we may have forgotten. (…)
Apart from the Canadian and American awards, Ida is also a recipient of the MEDIA European Talent Prize, the FIPRESCI Jury Prize in the Special Presentations section at the 38th International Film Festival in Toronto, and four awards at the 38th Gdynia Film Festival (the biggest film festival in Poland)– the Golden Lion for Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Actress for Agata Kulesza (one of the most famous Polish actresses) and Best Art Direction for Katarzyna Sobańska. Ida also won best film at the 29th Warsaw Film Festival, the 57th London Film Festival and the 21st Plus Camerimage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography. At the Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón, Ida received 4 awards, including Best Film and Best Art Direction.
Edited by PS, 30/04/2014