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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » March 4, 2009
The world of movies
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Berlin Plaudits for Wajda
March 4, 2009 By W.¯.    
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Andrzej Wajda, one of Poland's most respected film directors, received the Alfred Bauer Award for innovation in filmmaking at this year's Berlin International Film Festival Feb. 14 for his latest movie, Sweet Rush (Tatarak in Polish).

n Wajda, an 83-year-old veteran with nearly 60 years of filmmaking behind him, shared the prize with up-and-coming Argentinian director Adrián Biniez, making his first appearance at the festival with Gigante.

Sweet Rush was well received by critics and audiences alike and was even touted as a candidate for the festival's first prize, the Golden Bear. That honor, though, went to Peruvian director Claudia Llosa, likewise making her festival debut, for Milk of Sorrow.

"I never thought an old director could win an award for opening new horizons in cinema," said Wajda, referring to the jury citation. He then added that he was delighted to have received the award together with a young director just starting out in the film industry. According to Wajda, the "new horizons" were his combination of feature film and documentary. "I expect this to be the way forward for cinema," Wajda said at a press conference. "I have high expectations for this combination. This could breathe new life into feature films, adding another dimension. I expect this to be the cinema of the future."

Sweet Rush interweaves an adaptation of a 1960 short story by Polish writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980) with footage of the lead actress, Krystyna Janda, recounting the death of her husband, cinematographer Edward Kłosiński, from cancer while Sweet Rush was being shot.

Janda, 57, has played several leading roles in Wajda films since making her silver screen debut in his ground-breaking Man of Marble (1976). In Sweet Rush, she plays a woman with only a few weeks to live who is haunted by the loss of her two sons in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and who suddenly becomes fascinated with a much younger man.

Wajda said during the awards ceremony in Berlin that he dedicated the award to Janda, who had contributed "not only her talent, but a part of her life" to the movie. Janda had not come to Berlin and only learned about the Alfred Bauer Award over the phone from Wajda. "She is thrilled and very happy that the film has been recognized," he said.

Wajda has said on many occasions that "Iwaszkiewicz created the most beautiful women in Polish literature." Sweet Rush is Wajda's third Iwaszkiewicz adaptation, the others being The Birch Wood (1970) and The Maids of Wilko (1979), which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1980 Academy Awards.

The Alfred Bauer Award is named after the founder of the Berlin Film Festival. Sweet Rush opens in Poland in April.
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