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The Warsaw Voice » Society » March 31, 2015
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From the Editor
March 31, 2015   
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Success did not come overnight for Ida. Viewers at home did not exactly rush to see this black-and-white Polish movie when it was first released. It attracted an audience of only 120,000. What really set things in motion were the awards Ida won at film festivals, starting with the Orły (Eagle) awards at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Then came international honors, including at the prestigious European Film Awards, the BAFTAs in Britain, and the Goyas in Spain. The high point was the Oscar that the American Film Academy awarded to Ida as Best Foreign Language Film. That feat prompted Polish distributors to re-release the movie in Poland, but theaters were far from packed this time around either.

The re-release was ideologically uncomfortable for those with traditional right-of-center patriotic views, who disliked Ida but found it awkward to criticize an Oscar-winning movie.

One way or another, Ida was seen by four to five times more people in France and the United States than in Poland.

An Oscar is like a gold Olympic medal. When you win one for the first time in history, it is a cause for national celebration. We all want to bask in its glory, because the Oscar is for every one of us.

I am not trying to poke fun at all this excitement; I actually share it to an extent. Not least because the success of Ida is a crowning achievement for Polish filmmaking and Polish art in general.

After communism fell in 1989, Polish artists, filmmakers and others were free to explore whatever topics they liked and how they liked—though now they had to operate in a commercial environment. Over the years, they have found themselves forced to face some real competition at home and abroad. Among those who have emerged successful from this competition is Paweł Pawlikowski. Another recent example is Mariusz Treliński who, as we reported in the previous issue of the Voice, wowed crowds with his staging of Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
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