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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And in other news, Pigs Fly!

Polish filmaker, Andrzej Wajda, will receive the Russian Federation State Award of Merit for his outstanding contributions to the struggle for human rights. The award was established in 2005 and aspires to be an equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize and carries a cash prize, the equivalent of two hundred thousand dollars. Previous winners include former French President Jacques Shirac and Alexander Solzhenitzen. The award ceremony will take place on June 12, the national day for the Russian Federation. In order words, this is a big honking deal. Wajda is being honored for his devastating film, Katyn, which was shown on Russian television earlier this spring, both before and after the plane crash near the Katyn Forest that was carrying the Polish president and other high officials to an official ceremony honoring the 22,000 or so Polish leaders who were summarily killed by the Russians in 1940. Given that Wajda has given his entire career to telling the stories of criminal abuse of human rights within Soviet-dominated Poland, this award is a startling turn of events, to say the least. Like, holy shit! Okay, the official press reports aren't quite so colorful but the subtext is not terribly hard to find. "Can you believe it?" is the gist of their message. And no, almost not quite. On days when other conflicts seem intractable, the Middle East comes to mind, it is good to take in the magnitude of such a step. Maybe there is hope for us all, after all. And who cares if it is partly a PR bid, on the Russians part. I say run with it!

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