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Backstage Interview Transcript: Foreign Language Film

CATEGORY: Foreign Language Film
SPEECH BY: Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski  
FILM: "IDA" - Poland


Q.    Congratulations.  Right here.  Poland has been nominated so many times before.  How does it feel to be the first winner for Poland representing your country this evening?

A.    It's really ‑‑ it's fantastic because you have a great tradition in films, your Golden Ages, several, but no Oscars.  So this feels really, really great, and I hope it encourages the world to look at Polish cinema again and the Polish filmmakers to take risks and do their own thing and do something that's a bit, you know, original and brave.  So I hope this is encouragement.


Q.    Hi.  You spent a lot of your career abroad in Britain.  Why did you decide to return to your native country to make this movie when most of your films so far have been British?

A.    Because, well, I lived in Britain so that's why it made sense, but I've reached an age where I'm more and more interested ‑‑ I'm sorry, more and more confused about the world as it is.  And I don't know how to ‑‑ what to do with it, you know, dramatically speaking in terms of films, and I felt like returning to Poland but also to return to the '60s.  It wasn't just Poland, it was a return to a period which I found very interesting, powerful, full of possibilities and stories and a period that's my childhood.  So it was a little bit of a nostalgia trip as well.  And it's something to do with age and you start going back in time when you get into your 50s.


Q.    Congratulations.  Over here.  With your tenth nomination for Poland, now won, now Israel is the one with ten nominations and no win, yet you really struck a chord with your movie because it deals with the Holocaust and it relates to the Jewish people.  Is that any consideration dealing with that aspect of post World War II Poland?

A.    It was one of the things, but I didn't want to deal with the issue of Polish‑Jewish relations.  I wanted to tell a story that's universal about very specific complex characters, so I didn't think, oh, this is a story about the Holocaust.  It's not a Holocaust movie, as they call it in the States, and it's not a genre film at all.  In fact, maybe it's a road movie, if anything, but it's ‑‑ and it's got many layers.  And of course, you know, the Polish‑Jewish relation are difficult, interesting and complicated, but for me the film is very Polish.  And the two characters, the lead characters, Ida and Wanda, who are Jewish but for me they're Polish.  I don't like people who attack the film from various sides and said, Oh, it's about Jews and Poles and stuff.  For me, it's about different versions of Polishness, but it wasn't about that.  The film is about all sorts of things, it's about faith, identity, sense of guilt, it's about Stalinism, too, and about ideals ‑‑ lost ideals.  And it's about jazz and rock‑and‑roll as well.  I wouldn't make a film for one reason.  There were many, many things that came together which I felt added up to a film.


Q.    I have the feeling you weren't finished with your thank you speech, that would be the chance to continue. 

A.    I know, I know.


Q.    I mean, how was that feeling ‑‑ I mean, how brave you were.  You didn't get stopped by the music.  They didn't stop you.  So what went through your mind when you were up there?

A.    I was thinking about my kids who are watching.  Hopefully they're watching.  And what I wanted to say is that this is great and wonderful, but my kids are the most important thing in life and that's my main prize.  I was about to say this "kid's thing" which Americans would have loved and which I mean, yeah, but I never got around to it and maybe just as well.


Q.    Hi.  And speaking to your acceptance speech, you gave a couple of shout outs to your crew back in Poland and their celebratory drinking, but talk a little bit about their contributions more specifically to the film.

A.    Well, there's so many of them, you know.  But there was a great ‑‑ like a spirit on the set because they realized that we're making some kind of weird film that's not like their usual kind of industrial film.  And it so happened that I had a bunch of really interesting characters, you know, they were like really strong, eccentric, fun characters.  They had funny names like, nicknames like [unintelligible], you know, which means water heater or something.  And they were really generous, you know, they loved ‑‑ they were not just professionals ‑‑ they were professionals ‑‑ but they really went beyond the call of duty, and they carried us and the film and they felt something good was being made.  But of course, you know, I had a wonderful DP who was like a débutante.  You know, the DP I started out with dropped out and this guy who was, you know, just a camera operator who happened to be available and nobody ‑‑ you know, whoever I rang wasn't free to take over.  So, like, the camera operator took over and he was fantastic, you know, a brilliant DP with good energy and we could take risks together.  I had a wonderful producer, Ewa Puszczynska, who I unfortunately didn't mention.  I feel really bad because she was the one who was in the trenches, you know, protecting my back and allowing me to change things.  You know, she was joking that I'm writing the script with a camera because I could be writing everything all the time and finding the film.  So there's a lot of really generous, strong people.  And yeah, and also these people like really represented what I love about Poland, the spirit of improvisation of, you know, like the more difficult, the better, and suddenly, you know, people who rise up to the occasion, like insurgent spirit, and it was great and it really helped me because the film was difficult, in difficult conditions and it didn't make much sense either on paper. 




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