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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » April 23, 2008
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Katyn Sweeps Eagle Film Awards
April 23, 2008 By W.Ż.    
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Polish film director Andrzej Wajda's wartime drama Katyn-about the murder of 20,000 Polish army officers by the Soviet Union's Stalinist security services in 1940-stole the show during this year's Polish Eagles film awards ceremony in Warsaw April 14.

The ceremony, held at the National Theater, attracted top officials including Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski. This was the 10th such ceremony since the Polish Eagles awards were established. Since 2004 the award winners have been chosen annually by the Polish Film Academy, which has more than 500 members.This year's competition was open to all Polish feature films that had been shown in cinemas last year for at least a week.

Wajda's Katyn won seven Eagles including the most important prize, that for Best Polish Film. The other Eagles went to Danuta Stenka for best supporting actress, Krzysztof Penderecki for best score, Paweł Edelman for best photography, Jacek Hamela for sound, Magdalena Biedrzycka and Andrzej Szenjach for best costume design, and Magdalena Dipont for set design. The film's producer, Michał Kwieciński, collected the Eagles since Wajda was unable to attend the ceremony because he was in Ukraine at special showings of the film. Earlier Katyn had broken attendance records in Moscow.

Katyn tells the story of Polish army officers taken prisoner by the Russians-who invaded Poland Sept. 17, 1939-and then murdered by the NKVD Stalinist secret police almost a year later in the Katyn Forest in western Russia.

It is told from the viewpoint of the officers' wives, mothers, daughters and sisters who were left behind. The women were unaware of what had happened to the officers and for years waited for them to return. Andrzej Chyra, Artur Żmijewski, Maja Ostaszewska, Maja Komorowska and Jan Englert play the leading roles. Katyn has already won a host of awards, including an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. The Oscar, however, went to Austrian Stefan Rozowitzky's The Counterfeiters.

Meanwhile, Janusz Morgenstern, the director of films such as Do widzenia, do jutra (Goodbye, Till Tomorrow), Jowita, Trzeba zabić tę miło¶ć (To Kill This Love) and wartime serials Stawka większa niż życie (More Than Life at Stake), Kolumbowie and Polskie drogi (Polish Roads), won the Eagle for life achievement.

Robert Więckiewicz, one of Poland's most promising up-and-coming actors, won the Eagle for leading man for his part in Tomasz Wiszniewski's Wszystko będzie dobrze (Everything Will Be Alright). The leading actress award went to Danuta Szaflarska for her part in Dorota Kędzierzawska's Pora umierać (Time to Die). The 93-year-old actress was very emotional when she collected her statuette. Szaflarska said, "I would like to thank two superb Polish filmmakers, Dorota Kędzierzawska and Artur Reinhart. Dorota wrote the screenplay for me and directed the film while Artur filmed it beautifully. With all my heart I thank the whole team, who looked after me, an old lady, so well to ensure that nothing happened to me."

Andrzej Jakimowski took the best director Eagle for his film Sztuczki (Tricks). The film also came top in a public viewers' poll, which is an integral part of the Polish Eagles voting process. Tomasz Saprykow won the best supporting actor award for his part in Sztuczki.

Young actress Sonia Bohosiewicz won in a new category, the best newcomer award, for her role as a hairdresser in the comedy Rezerwat, directed by Łukasz Palkowski. The award for best screenplay went to Andrzej Barański for Parę osób, mały czas (A Few People, A Little Time), which he also directed. Wanda Zemen won the film editing Eagle for the same movie.

German film The Lives of Others won the 2008 Best European Film award. The film was directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and won last year's Oscar for best foreign language film.

The Eagles competition, which had 28 entrants, started when consulting and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, appointed to supervise the voting process, sent out ballot cards to all academy members Jan. 3. The first ballot closed Jan. 23 and the nominations were announced Feb. 4. A second ballot followed. The name of the first award winner was announced on March 3.
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