WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's politicians and filmmakers rejoiced Monday over the nation's first ever foreign language movie Oscar for "Ida," seeing it as a sign of the country's cinematography coming of age.
President Bronislaw Komorowski said the award was a "source of satisfaction for all Poles" and proof that democratic Poland is becoming an increasingly attractive country, with "valuable things to offer to the world."
It was the first foreign language Oscar for Poland despite nine previous nominations and a rich history of filmmaking, including by renowned directors like Andrzej Wajda who received an honorary Oscar in 2000, and Roman Polanski, who won an Oscar in 2003 for directing "The Pianist."
"This is a beautiful day for me. It shows that after many difficult years Poland's cinematography is back on its feet. I wanted to live to see this day," the 88-year-old Wajda said.
Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikowski made "Ida" in black and white, using imagery of the 1960s. It plunges into World War II and the early years of communism, two dark chapters of Poland's history, via a young Catholic nun who discovers she is Jewish. It was one of the critical hits of 2014 in Europe and the U.S. Being so well known helped the movie win the Oscar, Polish critics said.
Polish 1993 Oscar-winning production designer Allan Starski said the country's filmmakers always aspired to the top ranks of world cinema.
"We were often very close, but we never won an Oscar (for a foreign movie.) This time we have an Oscar. This is a huge success," Starski said.
After years of a downturn following political and economic change, Polish cinema is getting momentum, also thanks to funding from the state Polish Film Institute, which helped finance "Ida."
The head of the Polish Filmmakers Association, Jacek Bromski, said the movie is "outstanding" and objective, which gave it universal appeal.
Speaking backstage, Pawlikowski said he believes the award will encourage other Polish directors to be original and bold.