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Joanna | Aneta Kopacz

A modest, stirring film that started out as blog by a young mother diagnosed with cancer. Joanna was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014.

Joanna had a stomach ache. Despite her busy schedule, she managed to drop by her doctor’s office for what was supposed to be a routine checkup. The diagnosis: metastatic cancer. She was given three months to live. Joanna promised her five-year-old son that she would do everything to survive as long as she could. She fought for two years. 

Joanna is more than a classic story about dying and saying goodbye to the world. Rather, it is an intimate and tender story about our simplest emotions, about being here and now, about relationships, attentiveness and Epicureanism in the face of a disease. The film was made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of Wajda Studio and the National Audiovisual Institute. NInA director Michał Merczyński, whom Aneta Kopacz initially approached with the idea for the film, offered his support to the director at the early stages of production and backed her crowdfunding campaign. The campaign was successful and the goal of nearly 37,000 złoty was reached in just a month. Merczyński commented: 

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442 people backed this film with their own money. It’s a cultural and social phenomenon. They are co-producers of a film that made it all the way to the top.
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Zwiastun filmu „Joanna”

Joanna was the most awarded documentary of 2014. It won over twenty prizes at prestigious festivals, including the Award for Best Short Documentary at Palm Springs and the Audience Award at the Warsaw Film Festival. Its crowning achievement, however, was the nomination for an Academy Award. 

The film immediately received very positive reviews in Poland and abroad. The New York Times stressed that Joanna brought new quality to documentary filmmaking by collapsing “the distance between filmmaker and subject”, while The Washington Post called it the strongest contender in the Documentary Short Subject category, remarking: 

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Aneta Kopacz presents a portrait of courage and grace.
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The film premiered May 16, 2013, at the Planete+ Doc Film Festival. The book Chustka (Scarf), based on the blog by Joanna Sałyga, was published by Znak May 8, 2013. 

See also