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Katyn gains Oscar nomination (update)

2008-01-22

Katyń, a personal odyssey for famed Polish director Andrzej Wajda about the massacre of 20,000 Polish officers and citizens during World War II, has captured one of the five nominations for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category. The winner will be announced at the Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 24.

In the short animation category, the nominations announced on Jan. 23 include the Polish-British co-production Peter and the Wolf by Suzy Templeton, an adaptation of the Sergei Prokofiev classic created by an international team of over 100 professionals.

In the history of the Academy Awards, seven Polish films have been nominated in the best foreign-language film category but none has ever won. The last nomination was in 1982, when another Wajda film, Man of Iron, was nominated - but then withdrawn by Poland's communist authorities.

Katyń, whose director already holds an honorary Oscar for life achievement awarded in 2000, portrays the 1940 massacre in Katyń forest and two other sites by the Soviets through the stories of families waiting for the return of their loved ones. Wajda says it's his most personal film ever-his father, Capt. Jakub Wajda, was one of the victims and his mother continued to her death to hope for his return..

The other nominees in the foreign-language film category are The Counterfeiters (Austria), Beaufort (Israel), Mongol (Kazakhstan) and 12 (Russia).

Promotion for Katyń is being handled by its producer Akson Film Studio (www.akson-studio.pl), co-producer and distributor TVP Office of International Cooperation and Commerce (www.tvp.pl), and the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl), in cooperation with Premier Public Relations (www.premierpr.com) operating in Los Angeles.

PFI Director Agnieszka Odorowicz said the institute has spent 500,000 zloties (€138,000) promoting the film and would have spent more if not restricted by Academy rules.

"The most important thing is that as many people as possible could learn from this film," she said at a news conference in Warsaw after the announcement. The Soviet Union did not acknowledge responsibility until 1990 and says the statute of limitations for legal action has expired.

Wajda praised PFI for its energetic promotion of Polish film. "There are many young directors now and this helps them to confront audiences," he said at the briefing. "Film as an art is a brutal confrontation and a very risky job."

Peter and the Wolf, one of the nominations in the short animation category, is a co-production by Poland's Se-ma-for Film Studio (www.semafor.com) and Britain's Breakthru Films (www.breakthrufilms.com.uk).

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