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Poland sends ’80 Million’ to Oscars

Pic focuses on Communist-era tale

MOSCOW — Poland has selected “80 Million” as its entry in the Oscar foreign-language film category.

The pic has all the elements of an adventure thriller: a big money bank heist, a race against the clock and police hot on the heels of the culprits. But Waldemar Krzystek’s feel-good film is a political morality tale from Communist-era Poland.

Based on a true story set in Wroclaw 10 days before Polish military junta leader Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in his standoff with the pro-democracy Solidarity movement, the film follows the cunning plan of four regional opposition activists who plot to withdraw 80 million zlotys of the movement’s funds from its bank account.

Using guile to outwit the regime’s spies, who get wind of the plan, Solidarity’s heroes pull off the stunt, securing the money to be used later to build an underground resistance movement.

As a time when Polish society is beginning to re-examine its Cold War history — veteran director Andrzej Wajda is in post-production on a Lech Walesa bio-pic — “80 Million,” although timely, has not done major box office, grossing just $793,000 since its release last November.

Poland’s Oscar committee, headed by Juliusz Machulski, is hoping that Academy Award selectors agree that the film “focuses on a period of Polish history in a way that is universal, original and optimistic.”

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