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Poland Enters Andrzej Wajda’s ‘Afterimage’ Into Oscar Contention

Poland has chosen “Afterimage,” from veteran director Andrzej Wajda, as its entry for this year’s foreign-language Oscar.

The film, written by Andrzej Mularczyk, is a biopic about avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who battled Stalinist orthodoxy and his own physical impairments to advance progressive ideas about art. It saw its world premiere at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival earlier this month.

The film was chosen as Poland’s Oscar contender by a committee composed of representatives of the country’s film industry and members of the Polish Film Institute.

The 90-year-old Wajda, who received an honorary Oscar in 2000, has directed films across seven decades since his debut with “A Generation” in 1955. His 1983 film “Danton” won a BAFTA for best foreign-language film.

“Afterimage” is his ninth film to be submitted by Poland for Oscar consideration. Four have made the cut for the foreign-language Oscar short list: “The Promised Land” in 1975, “The Maids of Wilko” in 1979, “Man of Iron” in 1981, and “Katyn” in 2007. His previous film “Walesa: Man of Hope” was Poland’s submission in 2013 but did not secure a nomination.

Andrzej Wajda has always had a unique take on his protagonists and their personal stories. By placing man in the spotlight, Wajda does not shirk from thoroughly analyzing his complex relationship with a world that often violently interferes in his life,” said a statement from the Polish selection committee.

Poland won the Oscar for best foreign-language film for 2014 with Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white film “Ida,” about a young nun in 1960s Poland on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the German occupation of World War II.

Kyrgyzstan has also entered the foreign-language Oscar race with “A Father’s Will,” co-directed by Bakyt Mukul and Dastan Zhapar Uulu. The drama tells the story of a man who, following the death of his father, returns to his family village in Kyrgyzstan after 15 years living in the U.S. to pay back money the father owed the villagers. The film won the Golden Zenith Award for best first fiction feature at the Montreal World Film Festival earlier this month.

Latvia is hoping for its first foreign-language Oscar nomination with “Dawn,” a drama about life on a farm commune in Soviet-controlled Latvia based on a story about a young man who turned his father in to the secret police and was subsequently killed by his family. Written and directed by Laila Pakalnina, the film, a co-production with Estonia and Poland, was partly inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished film “Bezhin Meadows,” based on the same story.

Macedonia’s Oscar submission, “The Liberation of Skopje,” marks the directorial debut of actor Rade Serbedzija, working alongside his director son Danilo. Rade also co-wrote the film with Dushan Jovanovic, adapted from Jovanovic’s stage play, which tells the story of an 8-year-old boy living under German occupation in World War II.

Macedonia has not received an Oscar nomination since its first submission, 1994’s “Before The Rain,” starring Serbedzija, which made the final five for 1995 but lost out to Russia’s “Burnt By The Sun.”

Other Eastern European countries entering the Oscar race earlier this month include Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Serbia and Ukraine.

Armenia selected Sarik Andreasyan’s “Earthquake,” an Armenian-Russian co-production about a 28-year-old Armenian and a 50-year-old Russian working together to rescue survivors following the devastating earthquake that hit the country, then part of the U.S.S.R., in December 1988. “Earthquake” is Armenia’s first submission for the foreign language Oscar since 2012.

Bulgaria will hope “Losers” is finally a winner for the country. Ivaylo Hristov’s drama, about four high school students whose lives are shaken up when a famous rock band gives a concert in their small provincial town, is the 27th film Bulgaria has submitted for Oscar consideration, but the country has yet to receive a nomination. “Losers” premiered at the Moscow Intl. Film Festival in 2015, winning three awards.

Lithuania’s entry is drama “Seneca’s Day,” the first co-production between all three Baltic states (with Estonia and Latvia). The film, written and directed by Kristijonas Vildziunas, sees a love triangle break up the friendship of two 18-year-old boys in 1989. Twenty-five years later, one of the friends, feeling he has betrayed the ideals of his youth, reflects on the past.

Serbia’s submission, Milos Radovic’s comedy “Train Driver’s Diary,” won the Moscow Intl. Film Festival’s audience award. The film follows a train driver who is near retirement and is preparing his adopted son to follow in his footsteps, but who also holds the record for the most accidental deaths. It is a co-production with Croatia.

“Ukrainian Sheriffs,” Ukraine’s entry, is a documentary by Roman Bondarchuk that follows a two-man law-enforcement team in a remote Ukrainian village. It won a special jury award at the Amsterdam Intl. Documentary Film Festival in 2015.

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 24.

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