Cold War
Cold War (2018 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
PolishZimna wojna
Directed byPaweł Pawlikowski
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyŁukasz Żal
Edited byJaroslaw Kaminski
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 10 May 2018 (2018-05-10) (Cannes)
  • 8 June 2018 (2018-06-08) (Poland)
  • 31 August 2018 (2018-08-31) (United Kingdom)
  • 24 October 2018 (2018-10-24) (France)
Running time
88 minutes
  • Poland
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Polish
  • French
Budget€4.3 million (~USD$4.8 million)[5]
Box office$20.5 million[6]

Cold War (Polish: Zimna wojna) is a 2018 historical drama film directed by Paweł Pawlikowski, who co-wrote the screenplay with Janusz Głowacki and Piotr Borkowski.[7] It is an international co-production by producers in Poland, France and the United Kingdom. Set in Poland and France during the Cold War from the late 1940s until the 1960s, the story follows a musical director (Tomasz Kot) who discovers a young singer (Joanna Kulig), exploring their subsequent love story over the years. The film, which was loosely inspired by the lives of Pawlikowski's parents, also features Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn and Jeanne Balibar in supporting roles.

Cold War premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival on 10 May 2018. Critics praised its acting, screenplay, direction and cinematography. The film has received numerous accolades, including three nominations at the 91st Academy Awards (Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography) and four at the 72nd BAFTA Film Awards, as well as six awards from seven nominations at the 31st European Film Awards, winning the main Best Film Award.


In post-World War II Poland, Wiktor and Irena are holding auditions for a state-sponsored folk music ensemble. Wiktor's attention is immediately captured by Zula, an ambitious and captivating young woman who is faking a peasant identity and is on probation after attacking her abusive father. Wiktor and Zula quickly develop a strong, obsessive attraction and have sex after a performance. Wiktor and Irena are pressured by bureaucrats to include pro-Communist and pro-Stalinist propaganda in their performances—in exchange, the troupe would be allowed to tour the Eastern Bloc. Wiktor and Irena are opposed to this, but the career-driven, opportunistic Kaczmarek agrees, and a resentful Irena quits. Kaczmarek is also interested in Zula and pressures her into spying on Wiktor for him, but Zula does not reveal any incriminating information. The ensemble visits East Berlin, Wiktor plans to flee to the west with Zula, and the two affirm their love and passion. Zula fails to come to the rendezvous with Wiktor and he crosses the border alone.

Years later, Zula meets Wiktor in Paris, where he is working at a jazz club. They both have other partners but their continued mutual attraction is clear. When Wiktor asks Zula why she failed to appear with him to cross the border, she says that she lacked confidence in herself. A year later, Wiktor attends one of the troupe's performances in Yugoslavia, where Zula spots him in the audience and becomes visibly shaken. Two years later, Wiktor is working as a film score composer in Paris, where Zula reunites with him. She has married another man to obtain a visa so that she could travel to Paris and be with Wiktor. Wiktor attempts to build a singing career for Zula. He embellishes her backstory to make her more interesting to film producer Michel, which annoys Zula. Zula becomes jealous of Wiktor's past lovers, and as work on her record strains their relationship, she begins to drink heavily and misbehave in public. Wiktor and Zula finish Zula's record, but a disappointed Zula remains frustrated and unhappy. She reveals that she had an affair with Michel and insults Wiktor, and he strikes her. She later disappears, and Wiktor confronts Michel, who reveals she has returned to Poland.

Against the advice of a Polish embassy official in Paris, Wiktor returns to Poland. Zula meets with him at a work camp, where he reveals that he has been sentenced to a "generous" 15 years of hard labor on charges of defecting and espionage; his hand is visibly disfigured. Zula promises to free him. Five years later, a freed Wiktor meets with Kaczmarek at a club where Zula, now a barely-functioning alcoholic, is performing. Zula arranged for an early release for Wiktor by agreeing to marry Kaczmarek, and now has a young son with him. Wiktor and Zula escape to a bathroom together, where a miserable and defeated Zula begs Wiktor to rescue her. The two take a bus to an abandoned church seen at the beginning of the film, where they exchange marriage vows and prepare to commit suicide together. After ingesting pills, the couple is seen sitting outside, observing the landscape. Zula suggests they view it "from the other side," and the two stand and depart from view, as wheat fields sway in the wind.



Box office

Cold War grossed $4.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $15.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $20.5 million.[6]

In the film's opening weekend in the United States it made $54,353 from three theaters, an average of $18,118 per venue.[8] In its sixth weekend of release, following its three Oscar nominations, the film made $571,650 from 111 theaters.[9]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 252 reviews, and an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With a brilliantly stark visual aesthetic to match its lean narrative, Cold War doesn't waste a moment of its brief running time — and doesn't skimp on its bittersweet emotional impact."[10] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[11]

Giuseppe Sedia of the Krakow Post wrote, "...less hieratic than Ida, Cold War has a lot to offer to the audience. Maybe Pawlikowski would have not won Best Director Award at Cannes if it wasn't for the sumptuous acting displayed in this cruel, jazz-drenched and Mizoguchi-esque tale of two lovers".[12]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards Best Director Paweł Pawlikowski Nominated [13]
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Best Cinematography Łukasz Żal Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Non-English Film Cold War Nominated [14]
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Cinematography Łukasz Żal Won [15]
Belgian Film Critics Association Grand Prix Cold War Won [16]
BAFTA Awards Best Direction Paweł Pawlikowski Nominated [17][18]
Best Original Screenplay Janusz Głowacki and Paweł Pawlikowski Nominated
Best Film Not in the English Language Cold War Nominated
Best Cinematography Łukasz Żal Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best International Independent Film Paweł Pawlikowski, Janusz Głowacki,
Ewa Puszczynska and Tanya Seghatchian
Nominated [19]
Cannes Film Festival Best Director Paweł Pawlikowski Won [20]
Palme d'Or Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [21]
Best Cinematography Łukasz Żal Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [22]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Runner-up [23]
European Film Awards Best Film Cold War Won [24]
Best Director Paweł Pawlikowski Won
Best Screenwriter Paweł Pawlikowski Won
Best Actress Joanna Kulig Won
Best Actor Tomasz Kot Nominated
Best Editor Jarosław Kamiński Won
People's Choice Award Cold War Won [25][26]
Florida Film Critics Circle Best Cinematography Lukasz Zal Won [27]
Gaudí Awards Best European Film Cold War Won [28]
Goya Awards Best European Film Cold War Won [29]
Guldbagge Awards Best Foreign Film Paweł Pawlikowski Nominated [30]
Houston Film Critics Society Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [31]
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Film Bartosz Bednarz, Michal Sliwkiewicz Nominated [32]
National Board of Review Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Won [33]
New York Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Won [34]
New York Film Critics Online Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Won [35]
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [36]
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [37]
Best Cinematography Łukasz Żal Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [38]
Best Cinematography Łukasz Żal Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Runner-up [39]
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Cold War Nominated [40]

See also


  1. ^ Opus Film, Polish Film Institute, MK2 Films, Film4, BFI, Protagonist Pictures, Apocalypso Pictures, MK Productions, Eurimages, Arte France Cinéma, Canal+ Poland, Kino Świat, The Lódz Film Fund, Mazovia and Warsaw Film Fund, The Silesian Film Fund, The Podkarpackie Film Fund, Arte France, Aide aux cinémas du monde and the Cinestaan Film Company are all credited as production companies.[1][2][3][4]


  1. ^ "Film Review: 'Cold War'". Variety. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  2. ^ "'Cold War': Cannes Review". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Cold War Racks up International Sales". Film News Europe. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Cold War (Zimna Wojna)". British Council. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Pawel Pawlikowski delves to the heart of the Cold War". Cineuropa. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Zimna wojna (2018) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Złote Lwy dla Zimnej Wojny to słuszny choć bezpieczny werdykt" (in Polish). Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  8. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (26 December 2018). "'Aquaman' Grabs $67M+ Weekend For $72M+ Cume; 2018 B.O. Poised To Pass $11.4B For New Record – Early Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  9. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (27 January 2018). "'Never Look Away' Box Office Gets Oscar Bump; Godard's 'The Image Book' Finds Its Fans". IndieWire. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Cold War (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  11. ^ "Cold War Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  12. ^ Sedia, Giuseppe (17 July 2018). "Cold War (2018)". Krakow Post. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2019: The Complete List". Variety. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  14. ^ "2018 EDA Award Nominees". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Competition Awards". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  16. ^ Heyrendt, Hubert (6 January 2019). ""Cold War" décroche le grand prix de l'UCC". La Libre Belgique (in French). Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  17. ^ "The full list of winners at the 2019 Bafta film awards". The Guardian. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  18. ^ Ritman, Alex (8 January 2019). "'The Favourite' Dominates BAFTA Nominations 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 9 January 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  19. ^ Brown, Mark (31 October 2018). "The Favourite dominates British independent film award nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  20. ^ Debruge, Peter (19 May 2018). "Japanese Director Hirokazu Kore-eda's 'Shoplifters' Wins Palme d'Or at Cannes". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  21. ^ "2018 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards". Chicago Film Critics Association. 8 December 2018. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Best Production Design - Critics' Choice Awards: 'The Favourite' Leads With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. 10 December 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  23. ^ Holt, Jo Ann (17 December 2018). "Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Name 'A Star is Born' Best Film of 2018". Focus Daily News. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Winners - European Film Awards". Archived from the original on 8 December 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  25. ^ "EFA opens vote for People's Choice Award". Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  26. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (7 December 2019). "European Film Awards Winners: 'The Favourite' Takes Top Honors; Antonio Banderas Best Actor – Full List". Deadline. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  27. ^ Morgenstern, Hans. "2018 FFCC Winners". Florida Film Critics Circle. Archived from the original on 22 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  28. ^ "XI Premis Gaudí". (in Catalan). Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  29. ^ ""Cold War" and "Another Day of Life" with Goya Awards". Polish Film Institute. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  30. ^ "De är nominerade till Guldbaggen 2019". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 3 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  31. ^ Vonder Haar, Pete (17 December 2018). "Houston Film Critics Society Announces 2018 Awards Nominations". Houston Press. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Nominations Announced For The 6th Annual Location Managers Guild International Awards". SHOOT online. 18 July 2019.
  33. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (27 November 2018). "National Board of Review Names 'Green Book' Best Film of 2018". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  34. ^ Sharf, Zack (29 November 2018). "NYFCC 2018 Winners: 'Roma' Dominates With Wins for Best Picture, Director, and More". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
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  40. ^ Marr, Rhuaridh (3 December 2018). "'Roma,' 'A Star Is Born' lead winners at DC Film Critics awards". Metro Weekly. Archived from the original on 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.