Oscars: Poland Submits ‘The Peasants’ For Best International Feature Film

EXCLUSIVE: Poland will submit animated feature drama The Peasants for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.

The picture is the latest work from DK Welchman (previously known as Dorota Kobiela) and Hugh Welchman, the creative duo behind the ground-breaking, Oscar-nominated, hand-painted bio-pic Loving Vincent.

The pair co-wrote the screenplay adaptation from Nobel Prize-winning writer Władysław Reymont’s classic 1905 novel of the same name about a young woman determined to forge her own path within the confines of a late 19th century Polish village.

Poland’s Oscar entry choice was made on Monday by a selection committee overseen by the Polish Film Institute.

There was a strong offering of Polish films this year, with other potential contenders including Agnieszka Holland’s migrant drama Green Border and Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englerts’s transgender drama Woman Of.

Respected producer Ewa Puszczyńska, who headed up the committee, said that the deliberations were tough and heated and the decision was made on the basis of four votes in favor and two against.

She said the votes had come down on the side of The Peasants for the way the co-directors had further pushed the boundaries of animation.

“In the committee’s opinion The Peasants shows the new dynamic in the world of animation, where the camera is not only an observer, but an active participant,” said a statement from the PFI.

“The film deals with important and contemporary subjects that are important socially: oppression against women, their dependence or even “belonging” to men, sexual violence and mobbing. It’s a story that will be understood around the world, across borders and political divide”.

Separately, the picture will also compete in the Best Animation category.

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The Peasants premiered as a Special Presentation at Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

It has since played at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, where it won the Special Jury Prize and Audience Award, and is headed to the London Film Festival, where its sessions on October 11 and 12 have already sold out. The film will also play at The Hamptons and Busan.

As with Loving Vincent, the co-directors collaborated with a team of international animators and painters, who worked by hand to paint over film frames and animate the story in a process that took around two years to complete.

The movie was first filmed as a live-action feature-length film with actors who included Kamila Urzędowska in the lead role as well as Mirosław Baka, Ewa Kasprzyk, Sonia Bohosiewicz, Małgorzata Kożuchowska, Dorota Stalińska, Andrzej Konopka, Maciej Musiał and Julia Wieniawa.

Radosław Ładczuk, Kamil Polak and Szymon Kuriata shared cinematography duties.

Sean Bobbitt and Hugh Welchman produced the film under the banner of Sopot-based BreakThru Films, with the support of the Polish Film Institute.

New Europe Film Sales handles international sales agent and has sold the the rights to more than 50 countries, including France (The Jokers), Benelux (Paradiso), German Speaking Europe (Plaion), South Korea (First Run), China (JL Film), Scandinavia (Another World Entertainment) and Spain (Karma).

There are advanced talks underway for the UK, Australia, MENA, Italy, Latin American and the North America, with Anonymous Content co-repping rights on latter territory.

Next Film is a polish distributor on the film and is gearing up for a wide release on October 13.

Selection committee chairperson Puszczyńska has a long Academy Awards track record having produced Pawel Pawlikowski’s 2015 Best International Feature Film winner Ida; his 2019 film Cold War, which was nominated in the three categories including Best Director and Cinematography, and Jasmila Zbanic’s Quo vadis, Aida?, which was nominated in 2021.

She was joined on the committee by Polish Film Institute Director Radosław Śmigulski; Aneta Hickinbotham, producer of Jan Komasa’s Oscar-nominated Corpus Christi; Ewa Piaskowska, screenwriter and producer of Jerzy Skolimowski Oscar-nominated EO; production designer Allan Starski, who won an Oscar for his work on Schindler’s List, and Maciej Ślesicki, director, screenwriter and co-founder of the Warsaw Film School, who also produced the Oscar-nominated titles Our Curse and The Dress.

The deadline for submissions for the Best International Feature Film category is October 2.

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