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Warsaw bids Andrzej Wajda final farewell

WARSAW (AFP) – 

Hundreds of mourners including leading Polish artists and intellectuals gathered in a church in the heart of Warsaw’s historic centre Tuesday to pay their last respects to Andrzej Wajda, the Oscar-awarded legendary Polish filmmaker who died last week aged 90.

Father Andrzej Luter, the Catholic priest leading the funeral mass, called the film director a “man of talent, a man of wisdom and a man of Poland”.

The phrase referenced Wajda’s celebrated 1980 “Man of Iron” film, focused on the rise of Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity trade union.

Wajda left behind an opus of acclaimed films inspired by his country’s turbulent history.

A large black-and-white photograph portrait of Wajda was perched on an easel in front of the altar where his steel urn stood.

While top Polish artists and thinkers attended the funeral mass, ordinary residents also turned up to bid their final farewells.

“I didn’t know him personally, but thanks to his films, especially ‘The Promised Land’, I had the impression I knew him like a friend,” Irena Dabrowska, a 40-year-old Warsaw seamstress told AFP following the ceremony.

Adam Michnik, a prominent communist-era dissident turned editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading liberal daily, called Wajda an artist of “universal appeal”, vehemently opposed to nationalism and anti-Semitism.

Polish Film Institute director Jacek Bromski likened him to other late legends of world cinema.

“After Visconti, Fellini, Kurosawa and Bergman, we have lost one of the last great national artists, the last of a generation that made cinema into a great art,” said Bromski, who is also a film director.

Wajda was close to Poland’s liberal opposition, currently locked in a bitter row with the rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) government over a string of legislative moves that critics allege undermine democracy.

He defended anti-communist icon Lech Walesa, accused by key government figures of having been a communist spy during his time as the legendary leader of the anti-regime Solidarity, the first and only free trade union in the Soviet bloc. Walesa has strongly denied the allegations.

Wajda is to be laid to rest on Wednesday in the southern city of Krakow.

He died on October 9 in a Warsaw hospital of lung failure after being in a medically-induced coma for days.

© 2016 AFP

Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161018-warsaw-bids-andrzej-wajda-final-farewell