A Polish film about a young nun who learns that she is the daughter of Jewish parents killed during the Holocaust has made it onto the shortlist of candidates for the best foreign-language film Oscar.
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"Ida," a sparse, powerful film by director, Pawel Pawlikowski, joins eight other films from Russia, Sweden, Mauritania, Georgia, Estonia, Argentina, Holland and Venezuela in contending for the category.
The slate of nine nominees will be winnowed down to five finalists when the 87th Academy Award nominations are announced on January 15. The Oscars will be awarded in Hollywood on February 22.
Israel's “Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem,” which depicts the five-year legal struggle of an Jewish wife to obtain a divorce from her reluctant husband, did not make the cut.
Set in 1961, "Ida" is the story of a young, orphaned novice named Anna who is ordered by her Mother Superior to visit her aunt in Lodz before she takes orders. In Lodz she meets Wanda Gruz, 48, a Communist Party member who tells Anna that her real name is Ida Lebenstein, and that she’s Jewish. Anna's mother was Wanda's sister. The two agree to go to the village in which the parents were hidden by Christians and then betrayed
Reviewing the film in the New Yorker, critic David Denvy wrote: "We are so used to constant movement and compulsive cutting in American movies that the stillness of the great new Polish film 'Ida' comes as something of a shock. I can’t recall a movie that makes such expressive use of silence and portraiture; from the beginning, I was thrown into a state of awe by the movie’s fervent austerity."
Among the other strong contenders are Russia’s “Leviathan,” in which a simple worker battles a corrupt city hall, and Sweden’s “Force Majeure,” depicting a family facing down an avalanche while on a ski vacation.