A new film by director Pawel Pawlikowski is being called “the first bone fide critical hit of the 2018 competition” in Cannes. As reported by Deadline Hollywood, the “meticulously composed” film, Cold War, has wowed Cannes audiences and critics. The black-and-white romance, set in post-war Poland, tells the tale of a female singer Zula (Joanna Kulig), and her mentor, a conductor named Wiktor (Tomasz Kot). The film shows their stormy infatuation with one another, and their ultimate separation when he dares to leave Poland for the promise of a better life in Paris. The story flicks back and forth throughout Europe over the course of 15 years.
The story of Cold War is close to home for Pawlikowski. “The story of a couple like this has been with me for ages. I dedicated it to my parents, because it’s somewhat inspired by their tempestuous relationship—they had [both] a great love and a great war. Their separations, betrayals, getting together again, moving countries, changing partners, getting together again—that story has always been in the back of my head, as a kind of a matrix of all love stories. So I knew I had to do it.” He laughed. “I once told this story to a friend of mine, Alfonso Cuarón. He said, ‘Cabrón, you’re going to make it. This is the best story you’ve ever told me.’ I thought, ‘Yeah, it is!’”
The Cannes festival’s closing night awards ceremony will be held this Saturday, May 19th. Following the film’s viewing, the cinematic world is expecting great things for Pawlikowski. The 60-year-old Polish film maker won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his last hit, Ida. He has also earned acclaim and numerous European awards, including BAFTA, for his documentaries and films since the 1990s.
The 82-minute film is shot by the cinematographer for Ida, Lukasz Zal, in mesmerizing 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Despite the limited running time, the story is dense and thought provoking, and reportedly took a long time in making. “I worked on it and worked on it [over the years], but I didn’t quite know how to make [the story] work,” he said, “because it’s such a shapeless thing, real life, [isn’t it]? But, then after Ida, which was made kind of simply and very elliptically, I thought maybe this is the way to do it. Just tell it without explaining too much, without having too much cause and effect. Just show different stages and people will fill in the gaps. When I found that out, I knew I could do it. I wasn’t sure it would work for the audience but I could see it would work for me.”
By: Hellen Zaboulani