Nun Drama 'Ida' Is Poland's Oscar Candidate

3:27 AM PST 08/19/2014 by Scott Roxborough
"Ida"

Pawel Pawlikowski's black-and-white feature has been a crossover hit for Music Box Films

Poland has selected Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski's black-and-white period drama about a novitiate nun who discovers a dark family secret, as its candidate for the 2015 foreign language Oscar.

Since its premiere last year at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Ida has been stacking up critical honors and, unusual for a Polish-language drama, delivering at the box office as well.

The film has grossed $3.6 million at the U.S. box office, according to boxofficemojo.com, making it one of the most successful Polish titles of all time. In Europe, Ida has grossed close to $9 million, including more than $3 million in France alone.

Among its many critical honors, Ida took best film at the London Film Festival last year, earned a spotlight award from the American Society of Cinematographers for the exquisite lensing of cameramen Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, and was the big winner at Poland's Eagle awards, the country's top film prizes, winning best film, best director and best actress for star Agata Kulesza.

The film is set in 1960s Poland. Kulesza plays Anna, a young nun on the verge of taking her vows, who discovers a family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation.

Poland's Oscar committee said nominating the film for next year's foreign language race was a “unanimous” decision.

"We had no doubt that Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida is the film that has the biggest chance in this very competitive category," said Agnieszka Odorowicz, general director of the Polish Film Institute. "It serves not only as a fantastic example of the work of all filmmakers involved in the making of this film, but of Polish cinema as a whole.”

Poland is one of the first countries to put forward its foreign language candidate. So far, only Hungary and Turkey have also nominated films, with Kornel Mundruczo's White God representing Hungary and Turkey getting behind Cannes Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Twitter: @sroxborough

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