Oscar 2013: Australia submits German-language, German-set World War II drama
Cate Shortland's Lore is Australia's entry for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Obviously, Lore isn't in English. Curiously, the film's dialogue isn't in one of Australia's aboriginal languages, either. Besides, Lore isn't even set in Australia. (Image: Saskia Rosendahl Lore.)
Set in the spring of 1945, the German-language Lore follows a teenager (Saskia Rosendahl) and her siblings, as they cross Germany's chaotic countryside after their Nazi parents are arrested. So, how is it possible for Australia to submit for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar a German-language film set in Europe?
Best Foreign Language Film: Academy rule changes
Well, thanks to (an enlightened) rule change effected about six years ago, countries have been able to submit films made in a language other than their own. In fact, the films can be filmed elsewhere as well (e.g., Canada's 2006 Hindi-language nominee Water, directed by Deepa Mehta in South Asia), as long as top talent – usually the director and/or screenwriter and/or producer – is either a native of or based in the submitting country.
The year prior to the change, Michael Haneke's Hidden was deemed ineligible as an Austrian submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar because the Paris-set drama starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil featured French dialogue. That same year, Italy had to scramble to find a replacement for Saverio Costanzo's Private, set in the Palestinian territories and featuring Arabic, Hebrew, and English dialogue. (As an aside: The Italian-language replacement, Cristina Comencini's Don't Tell, was eventually shortlisted by the Academy.)
This year, Michael Haneke's Amour is in contention for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. An Austrian submission, Amour – much like Hidden – is a French-language drama set in Paris. The fact that Amour (and the Australian Lore) won't be facing the same absurd hurdles that eventually disqualified Hidden means the Academy has made (at least some) progress in the much-criticized Best Foreign Language Film category.
Saskia Rosendahl Lore photo: Memento Films.