Poland's 'Ida' gets big Oscar bang by staying small

Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:58pm EST
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Polish-British filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski reflected on the two Oscar nominations scored by his austere black-and-white drama "Ida" on Thursday, he considered the irony of how his little film landed him his biggest success.

"It's an amazing, wonderful paradox, isn't it?" said Pawlikowski, 57, who watched the nominations on a coffee shop television while on vacation in Mexico.

Spurning bigger movie offers to stay on the fringes and using a small budget how he pleased gave him the greatest creative freedom, he said.

"Everyone said it would be professional suicide," said the director whose films "My Summer of Love" (2004) and "Last Resort" (2000) each won a BAFTA award. "It turned out to be the opposite."

An Oscar nomination is a big deal - and big business - for any movie. But the global exposure it lends to foreign films like "Ida" is a special treat for often small budget productions far out of Hollywood's orbit.

"I am overflowing with joy today," said the Argentine director Damian Szifron, whose black comedy "Wild Tales" also picked up a nomination. "I feel like Gene Kelly in 'Singin' in the Rain.'"

That reaction is a common one in the best foreign language film category, where under-the-radar gems are often discovered.

"It's great for our country," said Pawlikowski. "It's great for our cinema."   Continued...

Poland's director Pawel Pawlikowski poses with his trophy after he was awarded with the Lux cinema prize of the European Parliament for his film "Ida' during a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg December 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Vincent Kessler