Veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski returns in triumphant form with this lovely tale of animal life. Sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, always beautiful, EO tells the story of a donkey and its journey through a world dominated by humans. As the film begins, EO is living a happy life as part of a circus, performing alongside Kasandra (Sandra Dryzmalska). When animal-rights protesters disrupt the situation, the poor creature is shipped off to Italy; the rest of the film portrays its subsequent adventures, which include becoming part of a petting zoo, getting involved in a Polish soccer game, and encountering a countess.
As certain readers might have gathered by now, EO is an homage to Robert Bresson’s masterpiece Au hasard Balthazar. Though their methods are different, Bresson and Skolimowski both use their animal protagonists as litmus tests for humanity, with their varying treatments showing the best and the worst in us. Where Bresson is austere and suggestive, Skolimowski is emotive and lyrical; this is a wonderfully moving film.
Prix du Jury (tied), Cannes 2022
Hola, Tako, Marietta, Ettore, Rocco, Mela, Sandra Drzymalska, Tomasz Organek, Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Isabelle Huppert
In Polish, English, French, and Italian with English subtitles
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Ewa Piaskowska, Jerzy Skolimowski
Ewa Piaskowska, Jerzy Skolimowski
Photo by Michał Englert
As an actor, Jerzy Skolimowski has appeared in White Nights, Eastern Promises, and The Avengers. His 2008 thriller Four Nights With Anna opened the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and won the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Essential Killing (2010) won Best Film at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the Polish Film Awards, and Gdynia FIlm Festival (where he also won for Best Director), and the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Skolimowski is an accomplished painter who has taken part in the Venice Biennale and exhibited across Europe and the US.
Filmography: 30 Door Key (1991); Four Nights With Anna (2008); Essential Killing (2010); 11 Minutes (2015)