„How did I get here? I made a black and white film about the need for silence, withdrawal from the world and contemplation, and now I’m here – in the epicenter of noise and world’s attention. Life is full of surprises”.
These are words spoken by Paweł Pawlikowski during his acceptance speech for the best non-English language film at the Academy Awards in 2015. Polish cinematography had to wait a long time for the Academy’s recognition, and although Pawlikowski was not the first one to do so, he joined a really small group of Polish directors who were achieved the award. The Polish directors who have won an Oscar are: Andrzej Wajda – for lifetime achievement, Roman Polański for “The Pianist” and Paweł Pawlikowski for “Ida”.
The unconventional way to the top.
He started his adventure with film as a naturalist, not graduating from film school, and taking up directing guided by emotion and multi-dimensionalism. At the age of 14, he left Poland to live with his mother in London, where he lived, studied and worked for many years. When he turned 30, he took an interest in cinema, first making documentaries, working for one of the biggest television stations in the world, the BBC, and then he started making feature films – a change which was more or less natural for him. At the age of 40, he received a BAFTA for his film “The Last Exit”. On receiving the statue, he said: “it’s funny when a 40 year old is called a new talent”. Another turning point in the director’s career was “Summer of Love” starring Emily Blunt – a talented British actress. This film, touching upon the subject of intimacy, full of understatements and delicaty approaching socially controversial topics, brought Pawlikowski another British Film Academy award, this time for best British director. In 2006, when he was working on a new project, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Pawlikowski let the film go in order to care for his wife; his personal life has always been more important to him than his career. Further personal tragedy caused him to stop working for almost five years. In 2011 Pawlikowski produced a film based on Douglas Kennedy’s novel “A Woman from the Fifth District”, staring Kirstin Scott Thomas, Ethana Hawke and Joanna Kulig
The inspiration for the final version of Ida’s film itself came from working together with Caesary Harasimowicz on a production entitled “Sister of Mercy”, which was made in 2010. However, in the end, the director wrote a completely new story, which had its world premiere in 2013 during the 40th International Film Festival – the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. The extraordinary story of Sister Anna brought to the film crew all the most important film awards: Golden Lions,an Eagle, a BAFTA and finally an Oscar in the category of best non-English language film.
Pawlikowski prdouced another outstanding production – the race for an Oscar began, but this time the Polish team lost to a much more expensive Mexican production entitled „Roma”. Although the Polish team did not recieve the Oscar, it did not change the value of other prestigious awards won by the team. Finally, Pawlikowski received the Cannes Palme for Best Directing, another first for Polish directors.
Pawlikowski said in an interview for the British newspaper “The Telegraph”, that he wants to make unpredictable cinema with its own logic and for it to be attention-grabbing. He keeps to his word and gives us excellent films that gain recognition all over the world.
text by Anna Starostka