Oscar 2007: Wajda’s Katyn Nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film

January 22, 2008–World cinema master Andrzej Wajdas film Katyn, about the murder of thousands of Polish military officers by the Soviet secret police during World War II, including Wajdas own father, has been nominated by Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the Foreign Film Category for the 80th Oscar Awards.

Wajda was awarded both an honorary Oscar in 2000 and an Honorary Golden Bear at Berlin in 2006 for his lifetime achievement in cinema. He has been nominated six times for Berlin’s top Golden Bear award and received a Silver Bear for his lifetime contribution to cinema in 1996. Wajda also won the 1981 Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival for Man of Iron.

I received the great and very important news of the nomination of my film Katy in Warsaw this afternoon, comments Wajda. Polish directors are no longer behind a wall and no longer have to use coded messages to communicate with their audiences. The Academy Award nomination gives Katy an additional opportunity to reach international audiences worldwide.

Its even more significant to me as Katy is certainly the most personal film of all the films I have made. Katy is the place where I lost my father, Captain Jakub Wajda who was murdered there by the Soviets. I also witnessed my mothers desperate and hopeless efforts in search for my father and her discovery of the truth about his fate.

Katy still remains an unhealed wound in Polish history, the secret story which has been told for the first time on the screen in my film.

Once more, I would like to stress how happy I am that the Academy honored Katy giving it such a distinctive recognition.

Regarded as Wajdas most important and long-awaited film, Katyn uses stories from authentic diaries and letters found in the Katyn graves to tell the fate of four fictional officers and their families. Through them, it shows the predicament of Poland, attacked from the west by the Nazis on Sept.1, 1939 and on Sept. 17 by the Soviets from the east under a secret deal between Stalin and Hitler.

The news of the tragedy was revealed only in the spring of 1943 after the Nazis had invaded the Soviet Union and discovered the mass graves; however Soviet propaganda blamed the deaths on Adolf Hitler and punished anyone speaking the truth with harsh prison terms. In 1990, after being kept secret by the Cold War for almost another sixty years, the Kremlin officially confessed that Dictator Joseph Stalin’s secret police were responsible for the crime.

In addition to featuring a top Polish cast including Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski and Andrzej Chyra, the cinematographer is award-winning Pawel Edelman (Ray, All The Kings Men, The Pianist, Oliver Twist) and the music is by the world-famous composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

Produced by Akson Studio, coproduced and co-financed by Telewizja Polska and Polish Film Institute Katyn will receive its international premiere at the upcoming 58th Berlin International Film Festival where it is screening out-of-competition.

Now 81 years old, Wajda is one of the most well known Polish film directors of the 20th century. In the 1950s, he was a leading director in the “Polish film school,” a group of highly talented individuals whose films brought international recognition to Polish cinema. Amongst his other film credits are: A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds, The Promised Land, Man of Marble, Landscape after the Battle, Korzcak and Danton.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2007 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2008, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PT. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.