By C. Molly Smith
February 23, 2015 at 03:41 AM EST
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ida won the Oscar for best foreign language film on Sunday, marking the 10th nomination and first-ever win for Poland. 

Backstage, director Pawel Pawlikowski addressed the meaning of the win. “It’s fantastic because we have a great tradition in films, but not Oscars, so this feels really great,” he said. “I hope it encourages the world to look at Polish cinema again and Polish filmmakers to take risks.”

Ida follows a novitiate nun, Anna, living in 1960s Poland, who uncovers a family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation, just as she’s about to take her vows. Though the film deals with WWII, Pawlikowski says there’s more to it than that. “It’s not a Holocaust movie,” he said. “It’s not a genre film at all; maybe it’s a road movie.” 

Later, he added: “For me, it’s about different versions of Polishness.”