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A star-making role for Joanna Kulig in ‘Cold War’

LOS ANGELES—The name Joanna Kulig might not ring a bell for the majority of American moviegoers, but that could all change in the coming weeks with the theatrical expansion of “Cold War.” The Polish drama from “Ida” director Pawel Pawlikowski about a singer, Zula (Kulig) and a musician, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), “doomed” to love one another has made Kulig someone-to-watch on the international stage. With a timeless movie star quality that only comes along every so often, Kulig has been compared to everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to “Jules and Jim”-era Jeanne Moreau.

Kulig, 36, had enjoyed relative success working in film and television in Poland, in projects like “Elles” with Juliette Binoche, and in “Ida,” where she played a pop star. But when “Cold War” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year (and an “eight-minute standing ovation”), Kulig found herself in a spotlight that has yet to dim.

“For me it’s very exciting. I’m very happy about Polish films and more and more people from the states can learn about Polish film, Polish culture—this is one thing—but another, this is very new situation and very new for me how film works,” Kulig said recently in Los Angeles. “We did Cannes, it was something very big. There was a big standing—ovation and Julianne Moore and Benicio del Toro, they cried and they said, ‘Thank you for this.’ I was surprised, you know? I’d never been in a situation like that.”

“Cold War” has struck a chord around the world. Achingly beautiful, tantalizingly brief (at 88 minutes), the film is a musical odyssey as Zula, an ambitious and talented girl from the wrong side of the tracks intent on survival, and Wiktor, an urbane musician who is taken by Zula’s
feral charisma, chase one another across the eastern bloc through the decades.

Pawlikowski said he’s not surprised that she’s getting such widespread attention for the role, in which her feisty and unforgettable character also gets to sing everything from folk to jazz and dance.

“Joanna won the award for the best actress at the Cairo Film Festival. The local audiences adored her.

TAGS: cold war, Elles, Joanna Kulig, Kulig, Poland
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