Polish helmer Andrzej Wajda has been awarded an honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ board of governors.
Wajda, who will be feted during the March 26 Acad kudocast, was singled out for pursuing a filmmaking career that gave hope to audiences struggling through postwar Europe.
“By showing both the loftiest heights and the darkest depths of the European soul, he has inspired all of us to re-examine the strength of our common humanity,” said Academy prexy Robert Rehme. “Wajda belongs to Poland, but his films are part of the cultural treasure of all mankind.”
Breaking into the Polish scene with “A Generation” (1955) — an investigation into war’s negative effects on Poland — Wajda established himself as a risk taker, with follow-up pics “Canal” (1957) and “Ashes and Diamonds” (1958) both exploring the aftermath of World War II.
In 1981, the Polish government tried to withdraw the film “Man of Iron” — a controversial tale about the country’s solidarity movement — from Oscar consideration, but the Academy refused to drop it from contention and it was eventually nominated for foreign-language film.
Although never an Oscar winner, Wajda scored best foreign-lingo noms two previous times– “Land of Promise” (1974) and “The Maids of Wilko” (1979).
Also among Wajda’s 44 film credits are war-themed “Lotna” (1959), “Ashes” (1965), “Landscape After the Battle” (1970) and “Korczak” (1990) — considered one of the most important European pictures about the Holocaust.
According to Acad rules, honorary Oscars are awarded for “exceptional distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”