Tusi Tamasese’s The Orator
For the time being, 63 countries are in the running for nominations in 2012 Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. Notable among those is New Zealand, submitting its first entry ever, Tusi Tamasese’s Samoan-language O Le Tulafale / The Orator.
Of course, there’s a good chance the final number of official contenders will go down as a consequence of disqualifications due to, say, deadlines or the amount of either foreignness or country-ness. The Orator, by the way, would not have been eligible a few years ago, as Samoan isn’t one of New Zealand’s official languages. In fact, this New Zealand entry was filmed in Samoa by a Samoan-born director using Samoan actors speaking Samoan. In fact, it’s considered the very first Samoan movie ever.
Now, before anyone sends The Orator back to the South Pacific, let me clarify that Tamasese is based in New Zealand, much like Indian-born Deepa Mehta was based in Canada when her Hindi-language drama Water was nominated as a Canadian entry back in early 2006. And nothing prevented Russian filmmaker Sergey Bodrov’s Mongol, starring a Japanese actor and featuring a cast speaking Mongolian and Mandarin, from getting a nomination as a Kazakhstan entry.
Among the 62 other contenders is Academy favorite Zhang Yimou, who already has three nominations in the Best Foreign Language Film category: Ju Dou (1990), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), and Hero (2002). Zhang is now back with The Flowers of War, which I hope — for the film’s chances of a nomination — has much less English than Chinese and/or Japanese dialogue. (I guess that all depends on how large is English-speaker Christian Bale’s role.) A few year’s ago, Israel’s The Band’s Visit was disqualified because its Egyptian and Israeli characters spoke too much English with one another.
Strictly Foreign Language contenders include Asghar Farhadi’s Berlin Film Festival winner A Separation (Iran), Agusti Villaronga’s Catalan-spoken Goya Award winner Black Bread; and Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun 2: The Citadel (Russia) — the original Burn by the Sun took the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar back in 1996.
The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the United States, the telecast will be broadcast live on ABC. The Oscarcast will also be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.