Friday, September 19, 2014


PL/DK 2013. P: Erik Abraham, Piotr Dziecliol, Ewa Puszczynska. D: Paweł Pawlikowski. SC: Paweł Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz. DP: Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski. PD: Katarzyna Sobanska, M: Kristian Selin Eidnes Andersen. Marcel Slawinski. S: Miroslaw Makowski. ED: Jaroslaw Kaminski. C: Agata Kulesza (aunt Wanda), Agata Trzebuchowska (Anna / Ida Lebenstein), Dawid Ogrodnik, Jerzy Trela, Adam Szyszkowski. 80 min
    DCP with English subtitles from Portobello Film Sales
    Screener dvd viewed at home
    M: W. A. Mozart: the Jupiter symphony. John Coltrane: "Naima", "Equinox". J. S. Bach (a theme also familiar from Tarkovsky). Black and white in Academy.
    Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF) first screening at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Sep 2014

HIFF Catalogue: Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: "Paweł Pawlikowski has returned with an arresting period movie from the heart of postwar Poland – and from his own heart, too. Every moment of Ida feels intensely personal. It is a small gem, tender and bleak, funny and sad, superbly photographed in luminous monochrome: a sort of neo-new wave movie with something of the classic Polish film school and something of Truffaut, but also deadpan flecks of Béla Tarr and Aki Kaurismäki."

"It is the early 1960s, but in the freezing countryside of central Europe it could as well be the 1860s or 1760s. Newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska plays Anna, a novice nun about to take her final vows in a convent where she was left on the doorstep as a baby in 1945 by persons unknown. But Anna has one surviving relative, (…) [who] turns out to be her aunt, tremendously played by Agata Kulesza: a worldly hard-drinking woman who lives on her own, and who is evidently something of an embarrassment to the authorities."

"Drunken, bleary Wanda reveals the truth to her niece: Anna’s first name is Ida and she is Jewish. Now Ida and Wanda – the oddest of couples making the most daunting of road trips – must set out to discover what happened to Ida’s parents during the war."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (HIFF Catalogue)

A stark personal journey into what the Germans call Vergangenheitsbewältigung - dealing with the past. As Peter Bradshaw states above, there are connections with the Polish new wave films of the late 1950s and the early 1960 - Andrzej Munk, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Roman Polanski, and their contemporaries.

We are taken to a country village, to a restaurant where pop and jazz are being played, and to a deathbed victim at a hospital. "Why am I not here?", asks Anna / Ida, when a grave of Holocaust victims is opened. She was tiny, not dark, not circumscised, left into the custody of a priest, and taken to a convent.

Aunt Wanda had been known in the 1950s as "Red Wanda", the prosecutor against the "enemies of the people" during the Stalin era.

What is the impact on Anna / Ida of the revelation of her true identity remains a mystery. But after their journey is finished, Wanda jumps out of the window while Mozart's Jupiter symphony is playing. Anna makes a plunge into life, dressing as Wanda, tasting a drink, spending a night with a jazz player, and walking on towards us, back in the habit, while J. S. Bach is playing and the image fades into black.

A touching tribute by Pawel Pawlikowski to a moment of freedom in the Poland of his youth in 1962 when many roads seemed to open.

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