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A Great Day for Polish Cinema

A Great Day for Polish Cinema
The joy of the filmmakers when Oscar nominations for Polish films were announced, Photo by Marcin Kułakowski, Polish Film Institute

A Great Day for Polish Cinema

january 16, 2015     Paulina Bez
"A Great Day for Polish Cinema," "Originality Rewarded: A Polish Record," "Arthouse Films Competing for Oscars," "A New Chapter in the History of Polish Cinema," "A Turning Point" -- these are the headlines and critics' opinions that sum up yesterday's Academy Award nominations.

A Great Day for Polish Cinema

"A Great Day for Polish Cinema," "Originality Rewarded: A Polish Record," "Arthouse Films Competing for Oscars," "A New Chapter in the History of Polish Cinema," "A Turning Point" -- these are the headlines and critics' opinions that sum up yesterday's Academy Award nominations.

A Polish Record

"This year's Academy Award nominations exceed our wildest dreams. There are four (five, if you add the nod for Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard's costume design for Maleficent to the two nominations for Ida and two for Polish documentary shorts) - never in the history of the Oscars have there been so many nominations for films spoken in Polish," writes Tadeusz Sobolewski for Gazeta Wyborcza and continues: "The Oscar nomination for Ida is a form of recognizing auteur cinema. [...] Here's the paradox: Hollywood, regarded as pure entertainment, supports originality. They encourage us: don't imitate anyone."

Arthouse Films Competing for the Oscars

"What brings us the most joy is two nominations for Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida - not only in the Best Foreign Film category, but also a nomination for Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski for Best Cinematography [...] This year's Academy Award are also a great triumph for Polish documentary filmmakers," writes Barbara Hollender for Rzeczpospolita, which also published a piece by Edyta Borkowska on the joy of the nominees: " 'This is unprecedented!' - such were the comments that filled the room where the Polish Film Institute organized a meeting for the filmmakers and producers in the running for nominations."

Ida: Nominations and Domination

"Two Academy Award nominations for Ida only confirm that this film is the biggest success of Polish cinematography this century. Nominations for two Polish documentaries are also reason to be happy," writes Agaton Koziński for Polska The Times, adding: "The Academy Award nomination for Ida in the Best Cinematography category is arguably a bigger form of recognition than that as one of five foreign-language films. The latter is imperfect by its very definition. Films competing in this category are usually those on the fringe of mainstream cinema [...]. Meanwhile cinematography is a key category. [...] All the top names in the industry compete in this category. If Ida has gained its rightful place among them, it means that the Academy considers it to be real (in their own meaning of the term) cinema."

Roman Polański: Ida Has a Better Chance of Winning the Oscar than Leviathan

According to Roman Polański, "Ida has a better chance of winning the Oscar than Leviathan. [...] As far as the Golden Globes are concerned, I thought their chances were even, and I was probably right because Leviathan ended up winning. But that is a completely different case, because the Golden Globes are awarded by foreign journalists. This is a unique group of people, one I sometimes have a difficult time understanding. Whereas the Oscars - that's a matter voted by four or five thousand Academy members."

A Turning Point

"Nobody in Poland could have expected such a great success for Polish cinema. Four nominations for three of our films and one for costume designer Anna Biedrzycka Sheppard for her work on Maleficent. This marks a turning point," writes Janusz Wróblewski for polityka.pl. "It has long been said within the industry that Polish films are overlooked by programmers of major festivals, that they don't get the recognition they deserve and the unique quality of Polish cinema is not appreciated. Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed all that. They didn't simply crack the door - they welcomed us like an important partner. [...] The Oscar nods for two Polish documentaries come as a great surprise. I expect recognition for the 40-minute-long Joanna by Aneta Kopacz - a mature, exceptional and poetic contemplation by a young, little-known director, who told us a story of life, love and death in a way that shows she understands everything perfectly. Nasza klątwa (Our Curse) by Tomasz Śiwiński is no worse. It has no big names behind it. It is a student film made as a domestic diary that discusses the helplessness of young parents after the birth of an ill child. The Americans recognized the honesty of this autobiographical story and the directing skills of these inexperienced filmmakers, who managed to convey the process of coming to terms with their fate and finding hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. It rarely happens that non-US films have such a strong hold in any given category. This proves a great appreciation for our documentary filmmakers, who are recognized abroad more often than feature directors. Their excellent works have long served as the calling card of Polish cinema."

A New Chapter in the History of Polish Cinema

"There has never been a night as exciting as the one that awaits us on February 22. A situation in which we have three Polish films nominated in three different categories is unprecedented," writes Maja Staniszewska for Metro, noting that "Polish cinematographers have a high standing in Hollywood and have been nominated several times - Janusz Kamiński even won two Academy Awards, but both were for his work on US films. Now Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal have a chance to win an Academy Award for a Polish film. What's interesting is that Żal also lensed Joanna, the documentary short directed by Aneta Kopacz that has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short Subject category."

Polish Cinema Might Break Through in the Collective Consciousness of the West

"This marks the greatest success of Polish cinema in Academy Award history. [...] It proves that Polish cinema can enjoy significant presence in the collective consciousness of people in the West; that we are a country that produces not only feature films, but also fantastic documentaries and that this amazing diversity - nominations for best foreign language film and documentary short subject - is nothing but great PR for Polish cinema, the best we could possibly dream of," said film critic Dorota Chrobak in a commentary for TVP Info.

Oscars: Poland Celebrates Five Oscar Nominations

In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, Nick Holdsworth writes: "Agnieszka Odorowicz, head of the Polish Film Institute, which funded all three nominated films, said the nominations confirmed 'the significant artistic value that is present in contemporary Polish cinema'.'"

Congratulations for the Nominees

Congratulations for the authors of the nominated films and for the Polish Film Institute have been coming in from Poland and from around the world through many channels, including Twitter. The Irish Film Institute wrote "Huge congrats. Irish audiences loved IDA!" Others who tweeted about the multiple Oscar nods for Polish cinema included film critic Carmen Gray (who writes for Sight & Sound, The Guardian and Screen International), Sheila O'Malley (Rogerebert.com) and Anne Thompson (Indiewire). Polish embassies and consulates in the United Kingdom, Kiev, New York City and Vancouver also wrote about the success of Polish cinema. Polish filmmakers received congratulations from foreign distributors, including Australia's Curious, and various festival, including IDFA, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Raindance, and AFI Docs, and from the creators of Filmfestivals.Com.

Vachaslav Nedomansky, Hollywood-based editor and cinematographer, tweeted and blogged about his 52 favorite shots from Ida and reasons why the film might win the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and included a link to an in-depth analysis of Ida in the magazine of "The American Society of Cinematographers."

The Best Possible Gift for the Tenth Anniversary of the Polish Film Institute

"This is a great day for Polish cinema. There could not have been a better gift for the tenth anniversary of the Polish Film Institute. I am very proud of Polish filmmakers and producers. This unprecedented success can lead to other Polish films being recognized around the world. We are ready to continue the promotional campaign of Polish Oscar nominees," said Agnieszka Odorowicz, head of the Polish Film Institute.

Since the Polish Film Institute was created in 2005, Polish films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award three times: Andrzej Wajda's Katyń in 2008, Agnieszka Holland's W ciemności (In Darkness) in 2012, and now Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida in 2015. Polish films have also received three nominations in the Best Documentary Short Subject category - Bartek Konopka's Królik po berlińsku (Rabbit a la Berlin) in 2010 and Aneta Kopacz's Joanna and Tomasz Śliwiński's Nasza klątwa (Our Curse) in 2015. In 2008, Peter & the Wolf, a film directed by Suzie Templeton and made as a co-production between Poland and the United Kingdom, received the Oscar for best animated short. Ida's two Oscar nominations were preceded by a win of five European Film Awards in December 2014.

Translated by Karolina Kołtun

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