Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nine Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race

Nine films on this shortlist will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 81st Academy Awards®. Sixty-five films originally qualified in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Austria, REVANCHE (Revenge), Gotz Spielmann, director;
Canada, THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE, Benoit Pilon, director;
France, THE CLASS, Laurent Cantet, director;
Germany, THE BAADER MEINHJOF COMPLEX, Uli Edel, director;
Israel, WAlTZ WITH BASHIR, Ari Folman, director;
Japan, DEPARTURES, Yojiro Takita, director;
Mexico, TEAR THIS HEART OUT, Roberto Sneider, director;
Sweden, EVERLASTING MOMENTS, Jan Troell, director;
Turkey, 3 MONKEYS, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2008 are determined in two phases. The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 65 eligible films between mid-October and January 10. That group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute this shortlist.

The provision for the Executive Committee to augment the first short list was added last year because certain films that were eligible, and had received a number of awards, were completely overlooked by the first committee. Main case in point was the Romania movie, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS, directed by Cristian Mungiu. Among its many awards was best film at Cannes, 2007. I am happy to see that at least four in the above list are, indeed on this short list, especially THE CLASS from France, which won best film at Cannes last May.

The other three are THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX, WALTZ WITH BASHIR (won Golden Globe this past week for BFLF), and 3 MONKEYS. In THE CLASS (Entre les murs), French teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself teaching a year with a racially mixed class in a tough Parisian neighborhood.

MEINHOF COMPLEX concerns Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s. Based on Stefan Aust's best-selling nonfiction book. In BASHIR, a young man tells the film's director about being chased by 26 vicious dogs. A family with problems refuses to hear, see, or talk about them, so they are like the 3 MONKEYS (Üç maymun) in the well-known bric-a-brac.

In Phase Two of the nomination procedure for this category, specially selected committees in New York and Los Angeles will winnow this list to five eligible for nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film (BFLF). The number of originally qualified films allows for a maximum of five nominees in the BFLF category. The committee members will spend this Friday, Saturday and Sunday viewing three of the films each day

The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, 22 January 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PT, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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