First oscar in the best foreign-language film category for Poland!

Posted on 26. Feb, 2015 by in Countries, Culture, Movies

Yes, I know…you probably already heard about it. However, I think, it is such a great achievement, that it is definitely worth mentioning more than few times!

MV5BMTUzNzI0Mjk3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjczMDM1MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_“Ida”, directed by Poland’s Paweł Pawlikowski, has won the Oscar for best foreign language film, defeating the much-fancied Russian anti-Putin satire Leviathan, and becoming the first Polish film to win the award!

Telling the story of a novice nun in 1960s Poland who discovers she is Jewish just before she is to take holy orders, Ida emerged as a strong awards contender (kandydat) after winning the best film award at the London film festival in 2013. It has since battled with Leviathan at all the major awards ceremonies since, winning the Bafta for best foreign film and best film at the European film awards, but losing out at the Golden Globes.

In a majestic convent (majestatyczny klasztor), an orphaned young woman—a novice named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska)—is ordered by her Mother Superior (Matka Przełożona) to visit her aunt in Lódź before she takes orders. A beautiful eighteen-year-old with a broad Slavic face, a composed, devotional manner, and a tantalizing dimple, the girl has never left the convent before and knows nothing of her family. In Lódź, wearing her habit, Anna enters the apartment of a forty-five-ish woman, who is puffing on a cigarette and waiting for the guy she picked up the night before to leave. A minor state judge and Communist Party member, Wanda Gruz (Agata Kulesza) tells her niece that her real name is Ida Lebenstein, and that she’s Jewish—a “Jewish nun,” she says. Abrupt and dismissive, Wanda enjoys attacking the girl’s ignorance. But Wanda has mysteries of her own and scores to settle: Ida’s mother was her beloved sister. The two agree to go to the village in which the parents were hidden by Christians and then betrayed—the village where Wanda grew up.

“Ida” becomes both an investigation of sorts and an intermittent road movie, featuring a dialectically opposed odd couple—Catholic and Communist, innocent girl and hard-living political intellectual, lover (of Christ) and hater (of the Polish past). Yet neither is a type, and what happens to each has to be understood as both an individual’s fate and a Polish fate. Ida’s faith and disciplined simplicity will be jostled by experience, and Wanda will be tested, too, as her own buried sorrows come back to life. Sardonic comedy lurks within the strange pairing. At first, Wanda can’t stop taunting Ida’s indifference to sex, and, about the village, she says, “What if you go there and discover that there is no God?” Yet Pawlikowski doesn’t favor one point of view over the other: the two women are equal in their isolation and their need to pull together the shards of identity in a country that has been almost entirely broken…

Poland is the home of some of the world’s best-known filmmakers. Among Oscar winners from Poland or with Polish connections are Roman Polański, who was born in France but also holds Polish citizenship (for The Pianist); cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (Schindler’s List); and veteran director Andrzej Wajda, who received an honorary Oscar. The nation of 40 million people had never won the foreign-language category despite nine previous nominations over the past half century, including Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness in 2011 and Polanski’s Knife in the Water in 1963.

I would love to know if any of you has seen “Ida’ and what is your impression of the movie! Please share it with us in a few words in comments below:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Do you love or do you hate Valentine’s Day? What do people in Poland think?

Posted on 14. Feb, 2015 by in Culture, Holidays

It is true that you don’t need a venue or an occasion to tell someone that you love and care for him/her, but pouring out your emotions to that special someone in the midst of a Valentine’s Day celebration will surely make your partner overwhelmed with joy and happiness. Every year, 14th of February marks the onset of a day that conveys to the world the message of giving and sharing love. All over the world, people come together on this day to curb the hatred that has devastated the human society and spread love in its place.

Image by aga232004 on Flickr.com

Image by aga232004 on Flickr.com

 

Some people hate it…some people enjoy it. In my opinion, it’s a wonderful day! Why? I know that some of you will say: “Every day is Valentine’s Day to us! Why celebrate only on February 14th?” Every day we can appreciate our loved ones…but those holidays (Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…) make it special…they remind us of how lucky we are:) Life would be no fun without holidays…so why not celebrate the love???

The celebration of Valentine’s Day in Poland is quite like the way the holiday is observed in the U.S and other western nations. Card and gift shocks are stacked with beautiful greeting cards and romantic gifts even days before February 14. Hotels, resorts and restaurants are decorated in advance of the celebrations. They offer attractive dinner packages to local couples and visiting tourists.

Chełmno. image by tripsoverpoland on Flickr.com

Chełmno. image by tripsoverpoland on Flickr.com

Local flower shops are packed with fresh, beautiful flowers that spoil lovers and gift-givers with choices. Tourism companies organize special games and competitions for the holiday. For people interested to visit Poland, this is an attractive time to make a trip to the country. It is a fantastic time to check out Chełmno, a small hill station that offers beautiful sights to its visitors. On Valentine’s Day, hundreds of lovers make a trip to an ancient Valentine altar located in Chełmno. This is why Chełmno is also known as “The lover’s city”. They pray for a happy wedded life to the couples whom Saint Valentine is believed to have married off here.

Modern day couples exchange flowers, love quotes, cards and goodies with each other in this place. When night falls, thousands of lights are lit at the centre of the town to create a huge electronic heart. You can well imagine how lovely it looks like!

For these of you who like reading love stories…“Treasury of Classic Polish Love Short Stories” in Polish and English would be a great choice! This charming book delves into Poland’s rich literary tradition to bring you classic love stories from six renowned authors, including Sienkiewicz, Irzykowski, Rittner, Nalkowska, Dygat, and Poświatowska.

Happy Valentines!

Pączki, pączki! Why Fat Thursday is such a fun day for everyone in Poland?

Posted on 12. Feb, 2015 by in cooking, Holidays

Today is Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek) in Poland! Yum!!!!

As in other Catholic countries that celebrate the last day before the fasting season of Lent begins, Poland has its own version of the French Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), known locally as Tłusty Czwartek, or Fat Thursday. With Lent forbidding sweets and treats, Fat Thursday is a similar celebration of gluttonous indulgence as in other countries, but with the date bungled, and instead of parading and partying the Poles queue up in lines that sometimes stretch around the corner in order to purchase pastries from the local cukiernia (cafe, confectionery), or bakery (piekarnia).

Image by Rrrodrigo on Flickr.com

Image by Rrrodrigo on Flickr.com

Faworki - image by buari on Flickr.com

Faworki – image by buari on Flickr.com

Poland’s favourite pastries, particularly on Fat Thursday, are pączki – large deep-fried doughnuts typically filled with rose jam (or other marmalades), glazed with sugar, and sometimes topped with candied orange peel. Another Fat Thursday favourite are faworki – thin dough ribbons, fried until crispy and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The number of these baked goods consumed annually on Fat Thursday is truly astronomical, but you can buy them any day of the year in most bakeries.

Fat Thursday used to mark the beginning of Fat Week –- the period of great gluttony during which our ancestors would eat loads of lard (smalec) and bacon (bekon) washed down with vodka. Nowadays, Fat Thursday is associated especially with doughnuts or pączki.

Until the 16th century, pączki were made with bread dough, filled with pork fat and fried in lard. Later, they evolved into a sweet pastry. Self-respecting bakeries in Poland never make their pączki in advance, nor do they use preservatives. The dough is made in the wee hours of the morning and are sold hot from the frying grease as soon as the doors open. Some home bakers fill a few pączki with almond paste instead of marmalade and encountering this filling is said to bring good luck. An old Polish proverb states, “If you don’t eat at least one doughnut on Shrove Thursday, you will no longer be successful in life.”

I really miss that day! My mother always makes amazing pączki and faworki! I’m not as culinary talented…but I try:)

Smacznego!