Polish director Wajda bids farewell to war films

Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:03am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Veteran director Andrzej Wajda said on Friday he had made enough films about war and his native Poland's past and would turn to modern themes instead.

The 81-year-old was in Berlin to present the Oscar-nominated "Katyn," a powerful, grim film about 15,000 Polish officers and professionals, including his own father, who were massacred by Soviet secret police in 1940.

"I do not want to return to this subject any more," Wajda told reporters after a press screening of "Katyn," which has already been a box office hit in Poland.

"I'm an old man now and I'd like to make a more modern, contemporary film. I think there are strange changes taking place within societies and individuals," he added, giving as an example how so many Poles had left since Communism collapsed.

"I would now like to conclude that chapter in my career."

For Wajda, "Katyn" was an intensely personal film because his father, Captain Jakub Wajda, was among the Poles executed in the forest of Katyn, near Smolensk in Western Russia. The event is still a sensitive subject in Poland today.

Although Wajda did not want the film to be seen as a vigil, the central female character was also similar to his mother, who never fully believed that her husband was gone.

"Right up to 1950, when she died, she simply did not believe my father would not return from the war," he said, speaking through an interpreter.   Continued...

<p>Polish Director Andrzej Wajda poses during the photocall to present his film 'Katyn' at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 15, 2008. The 58th Berlinale, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, runs from February 7 to 17 in the German capital. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>