2015 Oscar’s Award Ceremony is on Sunday February 22nd. Among Oscar nominees there are three films from Poland nominated for four Oscars. To learn more about this great success of the Polish cinema we interviewed Vladek Juszkiewicz director and founder of the Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles.
Bijan Tehrani: How significant is Polish films presence among Oscar nominees in 2015 comparing to previous years?
Vladek Juszkiewicz: Never before in one year have there been three Polish films nominated to the Oscars with four nominations. This year we have IDA by Pawel Pawlikowski nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography (Lukasz Zal & Ryszard Lenczewski) and JOANNA by Aneta Kopacz and OUR CURSE (Nasza klatwa) by Tomasz Sliwinski nominated for Documentary Short Subject:
On top of that Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard (Schindler’s List & The Pianist) is nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design for MALEFICENT by Robert Stromberg.
There is no surprise with the nominations for documentaries; Poland is well known for documentary films (in 2010 Rabbit à la Berlin by Bartosz Konopka was nominated), but two from five nominations; this is unprecedented.
It is very exciting to have all those nominations. As a Pole and the organizer of the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles it gives me an opportunity to connect with American friends of the Festival. I can be the liaison between them and the nominee. I get many congratulations from them which I passed to the Polish filmmakers.
BT: IDA seems to have a great chance to win the Best Foreign Language Film Award. Not only it is a very well made film, it has a very unique approach to look into the past to have a clear identity now. What is your take on this?
VJ: All nominated films have the chance to win; it is a 1 to 5 chance. The fact that IDA is also nominated in cinematography is very significant. There is a nostalgia to black and white films and to films which are not too long (82 min.). With all those “religious” wars around the world, IDA shows what can happen to people who found themselves in those circumstances without their willingness. What consequences religion, beliefs, party and system affiliations can have consequences in their lives. We are very quick to criticize people’s behavior, but we don’t know how we would behave if we would have found our self in those situations. Taking all those facts into consideration IDA is very universal.
BT: Traditionally the Oscar for the Best Cinematography goes to cinematographer(s) of an American film, considering the amazing work of Lukasz Zal & Ryszard Lenczewski in shooting IDA in black & White, do you think they have a chance to win the Oscar?
VJ: It is for the first time that a film nominated in Best Foreign Language Film category is also nominated for Best Cinematography. The fact that Lukasz Zal is also the cinematographer for JOANNA is very significant. The fact, that he and Ryszard Lenczewski won the Spotlight Award awarded by American Society of Cinematographers, the European Film Award and few others awards and nominations is very significant. They are outsiders for Hollywood; the Academy likes outsiders.
BT: JOANNA is a very important and poetic short film, nominated for Documentary Short Subject Oscar. Please tell us about this film and again the possibilities of it winning the award.
VJ: JOANNA is a great film. Director Aneta Kopacz and the cinematographer Lukasz Zal give the mother and her son much space, but still cut to the essence of the situation. Last year we lost our friend to cancer who found out about her illness just after her son’s birth. She was trying to spend as much time with him as was possible. Her situation was more difficult than Joanna’s. Her son was a baby. Joanna’s son was a little boy. Parents who know that they are dying and will not have a chance to see their baby growing at least want the child to remember them as living person. Joanna does this all.
BT: How 2015 Oscar nominations and possible Oscars could help Polish cinema success in USA and other parts of the world?
VJ: Nominations to the Oscars and a possible winning give the Polish cinema a great exposure. But at the same time there is danger. After that the audience has bigger expectations when they go see a Polish film and we do not want them to be disappointed. So this puts a big pressure on filmmakers to make good films.