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Wajda's Walesa Biopic to Debut at Venice Film Festival

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the Venice Film Festival is in full swing this weekend. As one of the world's most prestigious annual events for filmmakers and cinema fans around the world, winning an award or having one's film selected to screen here would be a very satisfying accomplishment for any director. But to receive a lifetime achievement award AND have your latest film make its world premiere at the festival is an honor reserved for a very select few.

But Andrzej Wajda can count himself among that privileged group, as his film Walesa: Man of Hope is set to debut at the festival on September 5, screening out of competition. And Wajda, one of Poland's most lauded and prolific film directors, who turned 87 in March, shows no signs of slowing down.

The highly anticipated film, starring Robert Wieckiewicz and Agnieszka Grochowska, chronicles approximately 20 years in the life of Lech Walesa, the electrician turned politician who led Poland's Solidarity trade union movement through one of the most turbulent periods in the nation's political history. Key events portrayed include the union's founding in 1980, the brutal crackdown by authorities during the period of martial law from 1981-82, Walesa being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and Solidarity's ultimate election victory in 1989. Walesa was elected President of Poland in 1990, a post he held for five years.

However, Wajda does not glamorize Walesa or portray him simply as a one-dimensional figure pursuing his goals against seemingly insurmountable odds. Rather, he is shown as a fallible everyman with whom we can identify, trying to balance the demands of work with family responsibilities, and Janusz Glowacki's screenplay delves deeper, giving the viewer keen insight into Walesa's personal life and his relationships with his wife and children during those many tumultuous years.

Prior to the film's premiere on September 5, Wajda, who previously received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the festival in 1998, will receive the Persol Prize, which celebrates “a legend of international cinema.” The ceremony will be held in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema. Commenting on the award, Venice Film Festival Director Alberto Barbera said: “Wajda is not just the most emblematic director in post-war Polish filmmaking. He is the director who has been capable, in his work (over 50 films in his more than 60-year career), of raising the most decisive and important questions about the history of his country, and consequently, of Europe in its entirety, inviting us to reflect on the critical relationship between personal experiences and those of an entire nation, between the anguish that often befalls individual destinies and the weight of the collective task they are called upon to accomplish.”

Worldwide rights to the film were recently acquired by the Berlin-based company Films Boutique, and will be released in Poland on October 4.

For more information, visit the film's official website, available in English and Polish:

http://www.walesafilm.pl/
 

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