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Prize ***: Jerzy Skolimowski on his donkey film that wowed Cannes

The veteran Polish film-maker’s latest movie stars a donkey – and is up for an Oscar. He talks about how he became a donkey whisperer to get the best performance, his career as a painter and playing a villain in The Avengers In his rolling, sonorous, Polish-accented English, veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski explains how he became a donkey whisperer. “I make a very close bond with the animal,” he says. “Every time I was not doing anything else, I sit with donkey. I look very closely at him, eye to eye. I speak to donkey, talking in his ears gently. All my free time I spent with donkey.” There is a reason for describing this inter-species bonding: Skolimowski is about to release his amazing new film that features a donkey as the main – indeed, only significant – character; its title is simply EO, designed to imitate a donkey’s bray. Skolimowski, 84, obliges – “Ee-oh! Ee-oh!” – but seems unaware of the full extent of donkey-related sentiment that will undoubtedly be rolling his film’s way, in the UK at least. He and his wife – EO’s co-writer and producer Ewa Piaskowska – might know a little about the British adoration for donkeys, but they may be unaware that £60m (mostly in wills) was given to the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon last year. If even a tiny fraction of that money transmits to the box office, Skolimowski could have a hit on his hands. Continue reading...

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