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Pawel Pawlikowski’s stark drama “Ida” has won the foreign-language film Oscar over a strong field — marking the first Oscar for a Polish entry.

“Ida” won over Russia’s “Leviathan,” Estonia’s “Tangerines,” Mauritania’s “Timbuktu” and Argentina’s “Wild Tales.”

The film, set in Poland in 1962 and shot in black and white, features long takes and minimal dialogue in the austere story of a young woman on the verge of taking vows as a Catholic nun. Orphaned as an infant, she meets her only surviving relative who tells her that her parents were Jewish.

Agata Trzebuchowska plays the title character. “Ida” won the best film of 2014 from the European Film Academy along with awards from BAFTA and the Spirits, but lost out to “Leviathan” at the Golden Globes.

“’It is strange to talking so much about it since it’s a film about silence,” Pawlikowski said at the Spirits.

He reiterated that point in his Oscar acceptance.

“We make a film about silence and withdrawing from the world and the need for contemplation – and here we are, at the epicentre of world noise and attention,” he said. “Fantastic – life is full of surprises.”

Pawlikowski then ignored the music cues to leave for nearly a minute as he went through an extensive list of thank-yous.

“Ida” has performed impressively at the U.S. box office with $3.7 million for Music Box.