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Cold War – Festival de Cannes In Competition Prospectus

Zimna wojna / Cold War

Paweł Pawlikowski – Poland

Cold War


This is director Pawlikowski’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Ida. Ziimma wojna is a drama spans the late 1940s to the early 1960s. We witness a passionate love story between pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and singer-dancer Zula (Joanna Kulig), who are from different backgrounds and temperaments. The couple are fatally mismatched but yet drawn to one and another. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the film depicts an impossible love story in impossible times. (by Bianca Garner)


“The torn curtain of love is the theme of Paweł Pawlikowski’s mysterious, musically glorious and visually ravishing film set in cold war Poland and beyond. The crystalline black-and-white cinematography exalts its moments of intimate grimness and its dreamlike showpieces of theatrical display. It is an elliptical, episodic story of imprisonment and escape, epic in scope.” – – – – – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Director Pawel Pawlikoski and cinematographer Lukasz Żal accomplish all of this in what feels like one shot, and what could have seemed like a cliché musical moment feels unexpectedly fresh and new. That’s not only because of Pawlikowski’s vision, but an incredible breakthrough performance from Kulig. The two are a match made in cinematic heaven and transform the stunning Cold War into a film that lingers with you hours after the final credits roll.” – – – – – Gregory Ellwood, Collider

“This surface whirl of fascination would not work without the luminous presence of actor Joanna Kulig, who on this performance is a powerful enough to become the Jeanne Moreau de nos jours. The cool delirium of the 1950s jazz age in the West fades as the reality of cross-border desire bites. You could say that the film is most likely to appeal to baby boomers such as myself, for whom the era described was the backdrop to our childhood, but this film fizzes with a devotional energy and political relevance that will transcend any such pigeonholing.” – – – – – Nick James, BFI


Comparisons to Pawel Pawlikoski’s last film, the mesmerizing Ida, with it’s tone, homage to history, and crisp black and white, aligned Cold War as a strong contender right out of the gates. The director is well established, especially here in Europe, with a handful of brilliant pictures made in the UK too. Cold War, like his Oscar-wining Ida, marks an illustrious return to not only his routes, but that of Polish, Italian, Czech breakthrough cinema of yesteryear.

Like Loveless last year, I have to declare this as a big prize winner come the closing ceremony no matter the competing films surrounding it. The jury often like to spread the wealth (and the festival rule means there can’t be a sweep), so my instinct is the Palme d’Or – with the Best Director, the autobiographical Screenplay, Grand or Jury prizes a near certainty. But, at the time of writing, I am aware of the impact of a few other films in Cannes. There may not be enough prizes to go around. In that case, step up actress Joanna Kulig to represent the film’s victory (perhaps a double with Pawlikowski and Janusz Głowacki’s screenplay to follow recent Cannes tradition). Regardless, it can’t lose.


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