Medvedev honours Polish master director Wajda

6th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday awarded acclaimed Polish film director Andrzej Wajda his country's Order of Friendship, honouring over five decades in the movie industry.

"This award has been made to Andrzej Wajda in recognition of his huge contribution to Polish and global cinema," Medvedev said in a televised ceremony in Poland.

Medvedev is currently on the first state visit in nine years to Poland by a Russia president, amid a thaw in ties.

His decision to give Wajda the order -- which honours high-achievers who build ties among nations -- was heavy with symbolism.

Among the most recent films by Wajda, 84, is the 2007 "Katyn", about the 1940 massacre in the eponymous Russian forest of some 22,000 captured Polish officers by the Soviet Union.

Wajda lost his father in the Katyn massacre, which the Kremlin blamed on Nazi Germany until 1990, a year before the Soviet Union crumbled.

"I'm sure this is much more than a simple gesture by a politician," Wajda said as he accepted his award.

He noted Medvedev's moves to "throw all possible light on the crime of Katyn".

Even after the Kremlin acknowledged its responsibility in 1990, Katyn was rarely discussed in Russia and remained a thorn in Polish-Russian relations.

A sea change took place after Poland's president Lech Kaczynski died in an April 10 plane crash in Russia as he landed for a Katyn memorial ceremony.

Amid mourning in Russia which struck a chord with Poles, Wajda's film was shown on Russian state television.

In the latest sign of the new Russian stance driven by Medvedev, the country's parliament last month adopted a declaration hailed by Poles which blamed Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin personally for ordering the massacre.

Wajda has made dozens of films and is a three-time Oscar nominee -- in 1976 for "The Promised Land", 1979 for "The Maids of Wilko" and 1982 for "Man of Iron".

He won an honorary Oscar in 2000 for his lifetime achievement.

© 2010 AFP

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