Poland's Oscar hopeful revives ghosts of Holocaust
By Gabriela Baczynska and Adrian Krajewski
WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish director Agnieszka Holland will take her third shot at an Academy Award with a dark film that dwells on the ambiguous attitudes of her countrymen towards the Nazi Holocaust.
Holland's "In Darkness" recounts the World War Two exploits of Leopold Socha, whose efforts to help Jews evade capture by the Nazi forces in Poland led Israel's Yad Vashem institute to place him with the Righteous Among the Nations.
"The story started to haunt me, I started to dream about it," Holland told Reuters in an interview. "You shoot a movie because you think a story is important, that you can artistically transform it to inspire people today, to tell them that it concerns them too, that they are also responsible."
Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community of some 3.3 million people before World War Two. Most of them perished in the Holocaust. Those who managed to survive were later oppressed by Poland's post-war communist authorities.
Socha is played by Robert Wieckiewicz in a film which depicts the former sewage worker and petty criminal's transformation from ruthless profiteer to selfless protector.
Socha helps a group of Jews survive the war by hiding them in the sewers of Lviv -- a city which is now in Ukraine, but was part of Poland before 1939.
Initially seeking to benefit from tragedy in the film, he abandons his efforts to bilk "his Jews," as he calls them, when they run out of money and begins risking his life to save them from being captured by the Gestapo and almost certain death.
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