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Acclaimed director Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love) returns to his homeland for this moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating from the terrible years of the Nazi occupation.
In this spare, stark, and oh-so-beautifully
directed film, Pawel Pawlikowski returns
to his native Poland for the first time in his
career to confront some of the more contentious
issues in the history of his birthplace.
Few subjects are as controversial and as
emotional as what passed between Polish
Catholics and Jews during the Second
World War. Pawlikowski, who created his
reputation in England with films like Last
Resort and My Summer of Love, has made
what is surely one of the most powerful and
affecting films of the year.
Shooting in black and white, and using the
1.37:1 Academy frame — the almost-square
frame of classic cinema — Pawlikowski sets
his film in sixties Poland. A novitiate nun,
about to take her vows in the Catholic
Church, is told by her Mother Superior
that she will be accepted into the church
after she has visited her aunt. The young
and prim Anna soon finds herself in the
presence of the middle-aged Wanda, her
mother's sister, a raven-haired sensualist.
It is here that her past — and her real
name, Ida — is revealed to her for the first
time. This triggers a remarkable journey
into the countryside, to the family house,
and to secrets that Pawlikowski ruthlessly
This film is impeccably executed and
judged, achingly written, finely structured
and eloquently shot. Scene after scene is
a masterly evocation of a time, a dilemma,
and a defining historical moment; yet Ida
is also personal, intimate, and human.
The weight of history is everywhere, but
the scale falls within the scope of a young
woman learning about the secrets of her
own past. This intersection of the personal
with momentous historic events is gauged
to perfection in a film that will have everyone
reaching for superlatives.
- Pawel Pawlikowski
Pawel Pawlikowski was born in
Warsaw, Poland. He has directed several
acclaimed documentaries for the
BBC, including Dostoevsky's Travels
(92) and Tripping with Zhirinovsky
(95). He wrote and directed the features
Last Resort (00), My Summer
of Love (04), and The Woman in the
Fifth (11), all of which screened at the
Festival. Ida (13) is his latest film.