Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski’s “EO” is among this year’s nominees for the International Feature Film Oscar, the Academy tweeted on Tuesday.
“EO” is a quadrupedal odyssey in pursuit of transspecies affection and intimacy ruptured by forces acting independently of the protagonists’ volition. In down-to-earth terms, it’s about a donkey performing in a circus with a young female artist going by the name of Kasandra (Sandra Drzymalska). The girl grooms the animal who reciprocates the care with unconditional love. Both beings are bound by feelings that verge on love which conventionally could only be experienced by humans, which also makes for one of many anthropocentric biases that Skolimowski attempts to demolish with his multilayered moving picture.
Putting the metaphysical and sublime aside, and looking at the story through a materialist factual lens, the donkey, called Eo, is separated from her carer when animal rights activists bring in bailiffs to the circus to disassemble it. What comes after for Eo is nothing but a series of ordeals that demonstrate Eo’s internal end external experiences shaped and moulded by humans.
One striking feature of the story is that it is told from an animal’s perspective, hence all the human threads are tertiary, unfinished and expendable – very much the way animal threads are treated in human-centred stories.
The person responsible for co-screenwriting and co-producing the film was Ewa Piaskowska with Michał Dymek taking charge of the cinematography (with parts of the movie shot by Michał Englert and Paweł Edelman). The music is Paweł Mykietyn’s doing and Agnieszka Glińska had the sway over editing. The picture’s distributor in Poland is Gutek Film.
In May 2022, Jerzy Skolimowski's “EO” (PL version: IO) received the jury prize, ex aequo with Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen’s “The Eight Mountains”, at the closing ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival.
But whether Skolimowski’s piece will tick off a braying Oscar success is to remain unknown until March 13 – the date of the Academy Awards Gala.