The Joy of "Ida" and Its Oscar Win

Polish and international media have been commenting on Ida winning Poland’s first Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Director Paweł Pawlikowski’s acceptance speech at the awards ceremony gathered the most comments, with the win itself receiving congratulations from all around the world.

Małgorzata Omilanowska: “The biggest success of Polish cinema”

“We are all extremely happy. This is really the biggest success of Polish cinema we could have ever imagined. It confirms our deep conviction that Ida deserves all the awards in the world. The film has already won dozens of awards at multiple festivals, and the Oscar is the crowning glory of this incredible success,” said professor Małgorzata Omilanowska, Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

Agnieszka Odorowicz: History in the making

“This is the first Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the history of Polish cinema. That’s exceptional! I am especially happy about this win because the competition was fierce. The category had several excellent and strong contenders. We weren’t sure whether we were going to win until the very end, and yet we succeeded,” said Agnieszka Odorowicz, General Director of the Polish Film Institute.

The Hollywood Reporter: Poland Celebrates First-Ever Foreign-Language “Triumph”

“Poland was celebrating on Monday after Pawel Pawlikowski won the country’s first-ever Oscar in the best foreign-language film category at Sunday night’s 87th Academy Awards for Ida” writes Nick Holdsworth.

“The Polish Film Institute (PISF), which helped finance the Polish-Danish co-production Ida, splashed news of the win on the home page of its website after the winner was announced, dubbing it the “Triumph of Polish Cinema. An Oscar for Ida!”

Variety: Crowning of 10 years of Polish Film Institute activity

“The film, which was co-financed by the PFI, is the first Polish movie to win an Academy Award in the foreign-language film category. The victory coincides with the PFI’s 10th anniversary” writes for Variety Leo Barraclough.

“The Academy recognized the strength and the originality of Polish cinema. I am very happy tonight, and I would like to extend my most heartfelt congratulations to the filmmakers. The fact that a Polish film received this Academy Award also serves as a beautiful and symbolic crowning of 10 years of Polish Film Institute activity in supporting Polish cinema.” said Agnieszka Odorowicz, General Director of the Polish Film Institute.

New York Times: New chapter for the Polish cinema

“The utter tenacity with which the director Pawel Pawlikowski talked and talked and refused to be shooed off stage by the Oscar orchestra has been matched only by the Polish film industry’s own persistent, decades-long pursuit of international recognition” write in the New York Times Rick Lyman and Joanna Berendt.

“Nine times Polish films have been nominated for best foreign language film – including works by such seminal filmmakers as Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda – but none have won until Sunday night’s award for Ida.”

Reuters: Ida caps a successful awards season run

Reuters correspondent Eric Kelsey commented on Poland’s Oscar win in the following words: “Black-and-white Polish drama Ida won the Oscar for best foreign language film […], capping a successful awards season run in which the austere tale of identity in post-World War Two Poland won top awards in Europe and the United States.”

The Telegraph: A big deal for Polish-language cinema

Ida is a big deal for Polish-language cinema. A Polish film has never won the Oscar; this could, and should, be the film to clinch it” writes Tim Robey in his article about the Oscar for Ida Danish involvement in Ida’s Oscar

This Danish site reminds readers that Danish filmmakers were also involved in the Ida project, and quotes one of the film’s Danish producers. Christian Falkenberg Husum talks of the fears that accompanied the making of Ida: “We never expected that anyone would even want to watch this film. It’s black-and-white. It’s in Polish. It’s in 4:3 aspect ratio. On paper, it hardly seems like a recipe for success. But we were well aware that it was a good film.”

The Telegraph: A fascinating image of Poland

After the award winners were announced, Patrick Smith wrote: “It was always going to be a close fight between Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan.” Smith also noted that this is the first black-and white film to win in the Best Foreign Language Film category since 1967, when the award went to Closely Watched Trains, a film by Jiří Menzel.

Die Zeit: Ida was the big winner of the night

“The big winner of the night was Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. That was certainly a decision to be happy about. This black-and-white drama shot in the rarely used 4:3 aspect ratio is a carefully composed piece that combines three storylines. A young nun in the 1960s, about to take her vows, starts questioning her calling. She learns that her Jewish family had been murdered during the Second World War. This film is also the story of her aunt Wanda who was in the underground movement during the war […]. The film had a budget of about two million euros, and has earned over ten million dollars at the box office globally – most notably in the United States and in France. In Germany, the film had relatively fewer viewers, but we might make up for it now,” states the Oscar article in Die Zeit.

El Pais: Fruitful relationship with the Oscars

“Few non-English speaking countries have a relationship with the Oscars as fruitful as Poland. Polish filmmakers have received a total of twelve statuettes […] But in the Foreign Language category, Poland has never received an award – until Ida,” writes Spanish journal El Pais about Ida’s success.

The New York Times: Life is full of surprises

In an article on the most passionate and unexpected speeches of this year’s Academy Awards, the New York Times mentions Paweł Pawlikowski’s acceptance speech, noting that the Polish director “managed to keep talking over the wrap-it-up music, which usually ushers off long-winded [speakers].” The Polish director’s speech has been featured in a number of other pieces by journalists making lists of the most interesting highlights of the Oscars gala. Polish cinema is becoming trendy

In her commentary for, Barbara Hollender writes: “Finally! A Polish film wins an Oscar! Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. […] Members of the Academy recognized this modest, black-and-white picture. This is a grand gesture towards arthouse cinema. The Academy showed appreciation for a work that is deeply rooted in Polish culture and history, while at the same time being universal, focusing on the search for identity, coming-of-age, religion, and longing for freedom. Even the nominations in this category were food for thought. The films that ran against Ida were truly interesting, and among them were two other films from post-communist countries – the powerful Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev, which portrays the moral decay of contemporary Russia, and the moving Estonian-Georgian Tangerines, a film about people sucked into wartime hatred […]. Polish cinema is becoming trendy. My colleagues from abroad often ask: ‘What other interesting films do you have to show?’, while festival programmers have started paying close attention to Polish filmmaking. Plus Polish audiences have started to love domestic films. I hope that our filmmakers take advantage of this opportunity.” Pawlikowski’s speech was one of the highlights of the Oscars gala

Paweł Pawlikowski’s speech has also been noted in Polish press. In an article entitled “The Hits and Misses of Oscar Night,” for Gazeta Wyborcza, Mariusz Zawadzka writes: “The success of Polish cinema etc. aside, Pawlikowski’s speech was one of the highlights of the Oscars gala. Seriously. This Polish director accomplished the impossible – he gave a 90-second intelligent and warm acceptance speech. ‘I made a film, as you saw, black-and-white, about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation, and here we are – at this epicentre of noise and world attention. […] Life is full of surprises.’ – that’s how he started, paying no attention to the wrap-up music that ushered him off the stage; instead he said everything he wanted to say, to the end. Without excessive exaltation, without being insufferably emotional, and yet being funny and somewhat moving. At the end he addressed his children: ‘You are the main prize.’ “ A great triumph of Polish cinema

In her article, Małgorzata Steciak describes Ida’s long road, from the difficulties in finding the actress for the title role, through Ryszard Lenczowski’s health issues, to the film’s difficulties in finding a distributor. Stock also compared Ida’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to the icing on the cake, completing the long list of awards that the film has received in recent months.

Łukasz Maciejewski: Unprecedented success for Poland

The website published a commentary by film critic Łukasz Maciejewski. In an interview for PAP, Maciejewski discussed the difficulties that Ida had to transcend in its road to the Oscars. “We must remember that Ida’s main competitor, Leviathan, had a very strong advertising campaign in the US in recent weeks. The film’s distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, is a company that is famous for its effectiveness. If Hollywood ever sees films from outside the English-speaking realm, they are almost exclusively distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. That was the case for W ciemności (In Darkness), La Vita e Bella (Life Is Beautiful), and the Iranian picture A Separation. Meanwhile our Ida had a much smaller distributor. But Ida’s career in the US started long before Leviathan’s and had a completely different run,” said Maciejewski. He added: “Today, I think it’s good that we did not submit Ida for the Oscars last year, although technically that was possible; that was the year that Wajda’s Wałęsa was selected as our candidate. This gave Ida a whole year before the final Oscar run to accumulate awards, of which there have really been a lot in the past twelve months. Ida has gathered great acclaim in this time and received excellent reviews. Ida also had great PR in the States, the type that can’t be bought. Many renowned artists fell in love with the film. Barbra Streisand has said that this film seduced her, Nobel-prize-winning South African writer J. M. Coetzee said that is is an outstanding work, Ida has also been praised by such artists as Pedro Almodovar and Julianne Moore. These are the type of recommendations that generate great press. If such renowned artists admit in public that this is their favourite film, then that information influences their fans as well. Ida also had good box office results in the States, much better than Leviathan.”

Tomasz Raczek: First Polish film in years that is understood by people living outside of Poland

In an commentary for PAP, film critic Tomasz Raczek said: “Paweł Pawlikowski turned this story into a sophisticated parable in terms of film form. And thanks to it being universalized, seen from above, from a certain distance, poetic in form, and artistically tasteful, it hurts less. For people in the West, it becomes understandable, while for Polish audiences it is served with a certain dose of anaesthesia. That is an excellent combination – both for Polish cinema, which is now getting noticed abroad, and for Poland itself.” Further details on Raczek’s commentary on Ida are available at (Polish only).

Krzysztof Spór: Confirmation of the great dominance of this film on the domestic and international stage

“A day to be marked in the annals of Polish culture. One of the key events in the history of Polish cinema took place on February 23, 2015, at 3:10am Polish time. The Oscar for Ida in the Best Foreign Language Film category confirms the great dominance of this film on the domestic and international stage, which started at the end of 2013, ran throughout 2014, and came to its grand finale today, on February 23, 2015. Ida received the first Academy Award in history for a Polish film in the Best Foreign Language category,” wrote journalist Krzysztof Spór on his blog about yesterday’s award for Ida.

Agnieszka Holland for Gazeta Wyborcza: Polish cinema has risen like phoenix from the ashes, and Ida is its crowning glory

Director Agnieszka Holland, three-time Oscar nominee [twice in the Best Foreign Language Film category for her films Bittere Ernte (Angry Harvest) and W ciemności (In Darkness)] commented on Ida and its success for Gazeta Wyborcza: “I think that when Ida was made, it fell victim to a bad atmosphere in Polish cinema. […] But then everything the film won was won with its magic. Ida received awards in Toronto, London, Warsaw, at dozens of film festivals. The film triumphed at the European Film Awards. But above all, Ida gained acclaim among film critics and audiences around the world, from France to the United States. For a film as subtle, intelligent and unique as this one, that is an incredible success. […] This is an exceptional moment for Polish cinema: we have received four Oscar nominations for films produced in Poland, and recently Małgorzata Szumowska’s latest film received the Silver Bear in Berlin. It is obvious that Polish cinema has been revived in the past few years. […] I hope that this will serve as another boost. It will show others that taking the easy way out is not worth it. We need to aim high.”

Jakub Majmurek for RDC: The crowning glory of a two-year adventure

“This is not a surprise. From beginning to end, Ida was the frontrunner,” said film critic Jakub Majmurek in the RDC morning show. “The Oscar is the crowning glory of this journey.”

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek: This breaks a certain ill fate

Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, who won the Academy Award for Best Music (Finding Neverland) said in an interview for PAP: “This gives us courage; once crossed, this frontier will be easier to cross again in the future.” Further details on Kaczmarek’s views on Ida are available at (Polish only).

Creative Europe: Well-deserved Oscar triumph

“My congratulations to the Director and Scriptwriter, the Producers and the team behind Ida for their well-deserved Oscar triumph. It has been a pleasure to follow the success of this Polish-Danish post-war drama by Paweł Pawlikowski. In December, Ida won no less than five European Film Awards, including the People’s Choice Award and Best European Film. This has been followed by across the board success, including the European Parliament Lux Film Prize […],” said Lucia Recalde, Head of the Creative Europe MEDIA Unit at the European Commission.

Ida’s success has also been noted by The Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Independent, The Washington Times,, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone. In their pieces on the Polish Oscar win, they note Paweł Pawlikowski’s acceptance speech, the rivalry between Ida and its main competitor, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, and the reception both of these films have had in their domestic markets. The authors also note that this is the first Polish film to receive an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. In addition to Ida, two other Polish films were nominated for an Academy Award this year, both short documentaries: Joanna by Aneta Kopacz and Nasza klątwa (Our Curse) by Tomasz Śliwiński. Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczowski were also nominated for Best Cinematography for their work on Ida.