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‘Ida’ – a breakthrough in Polish cinematography

This year’s Oscars turned out to be a great success for Polish cinematography. Polish film-makers have very rarely been appreciated by the Oscar Academy as usually the awards were won by directors or actors of Polish origin but working abroad. 87th Oscars changed the record forever as the Oscar for the best foreign language film was awarded to a Polish film with the cast almost entirely Polish – to ‘Ida’, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.

The film is a very minimalistic production with black and white pictures and an easy to follow plot so it does not require much in-depth knowledge about the history of Poland from the audience. At the same time, the film presents a difficult reality of living in the post-war era in Poland. It is a story of a young woman who grew up in a catholic orphanage and sets off on a trip to re-discover her identity before becoming a nun. She meets her aunt for the first time in her life and finds out about her Jewish origin. Together, they decide to unveil secrets from the past, which bring to life uncomfortable truth about Polish-Jewish relations in the times of war.

Nevertheless, the success, as remarkable as it is, is also bittersweet. The film has been widely criticised by some circles. The main problem seems to be the plot as it includes a story of a Polish countryman who committed a crime on a Jewish family. Polish right wing considers the movie an attack on Poland’s reputation as it may contribute to the idea that Polish nation should also take responsibility for the Holocaust. Polish League against Defamation published a manifesto requesting the authors to add an explanatory note to proceed the screenings. The note should state that the Holocaust crime was committed by the Germans and that Polish underground state contributed to saving Jewish community during the war.

Thus, the film has already provoked heated debates and will continue to do so in the future. Nonetheless, ‘Ida’ has been a huge success not only for Polish cinematography but also for alternative cinema in general. As the director stated it: “We made a film about… the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation, and here we are. At the epicentre of noise and world attention. Fantastic, you know”. Thus, a great reason for Poland to celebrate!

Read more:

An interview with the director, Paweł Pawlikowski:

Source of the picture:


Author: Magdalena Piskor

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