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Ashes and Diamonds: Andrzej Wajda on Directing

Ashes and Diamonds (1958) is the third among director Andrzej Wajda’s trilogy of war films – the first, A Generation (1955), and the second, Kanal (1957), which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes. Ashes and Diamonds won the film critics award at the Venice Film Festival.

These were among a number of Wajda’s films that spurred Steven Spielberg to write a passionate letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recommending him for an Honorary Academy Award (Lezenska, 1999).

Film lovers honor him as one of the most acclaimed directors in the history of film, one whose artistry has repeatedly brought the world’s attention to European cinema. By striving to show both the loftiest heights and the darkest depths of the European soul, he has inspired all of us to re-examine the strength of our common humanity.

Jane Fonda presented that Oscar to Wajda in March 2000 (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2000).

Born in Poland in 1926, events leading to World War II — and the war itself — shaped Wajda’s formative years. Then, the aftermath of the War heavily influenced his career in filmmaking, as he worked under a Communist regime where censorship limited all creative production. However, since censors paid more attention to dialog than images, Wajda cleverly used imagery instead of words to communicate meaning in his movies.

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