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Home International Cinema Women Film Directors’ Foreign-Language Oscar Presence + Hans Zimmer Out of Academy Award Race

Women Film Directors’ Foreign-Language Oscar Presence + Hans Zimmer Out of Academy Award Race

Nadine Labaki, Where Do We Go Now?
Women Directors’ Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Presence: Nadine Labaki submission Where Do We Go Now?
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Today it was announced that Patty Jenkins, whose Monster earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar in early 2004, will be directing Thor 2. Officially, Perkins is the first woman director at the helm of a big-budget, Hollywood superhero movie.

Below you’ll find ten movies directed by female filmmakers that are among the 63 contenders for nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. Seven of those hail from Europe; one is from the Americas, one from East Asia, and one from West Asia (or the Middle East).

They are: the Dominican Republic’s Leticia Tonos for Love Child, France’s Valérie Donzelli for the semi-autobiographical Declaration of War, Greece’s Athina Rachel Tsangari for Attenberg, Hong Kong’s Ann Hui for A Simple Life, and Ireland’s Juanita Wilson for As If I Am Not There.

Also: Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki for Toronto Film Festival Audience Award winner Where Do We Go Now?, The Netherlands’ Maria Peters for Sonny Boy, Norway’s Anne Sewitsky for Happy, Happy, Poland’s Agnieszka Holland for In Darkness, and Sweden’s Pernilla August for Beyond.

Last year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner was Denmark’s entry In a Better World, directed by Susanne Bier. The first female director of a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner was Marleen Gorris for Antonia’s Line (The Netherlands, 1995). Gorris was followed by Caroline Link for Nowhere in Africa (Germany, 2002) and Bier last year.

The first woman director to have a film nominated in that category was Astrid Henning-Jensen for Paw (Denmark, 1959). Others include Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (Italy, 1976), Diane Kurys for Coup de foudre / Entre Nous (France, 1983), María Luisa Bemberg for Camila (Argentina, 1984), potential 2012 contender Agnieszka Holland for Angry Harvest (West Germany, 1985), Coline Serreau for Three Men and a Cradle (France, 1985), and Mira Nair for Salaam Bombay! (India, 1988).

Also: Nana Dzhordzhadze for A Chef in Love (Georgia, 1996), Berit Nesheim for The Other Side of Sunday (Norway, 1996), Agnès Jaoui for The Taste of Others (France, 2000), Paula van der Oest for Zus & Zo (The Netherlands, 2002), Cristina Comencini for Don’t Tell (Italy, 2005), Deepa Mehta for Water (Canada, 2006), and Claudia Llosa for The Milk of Sorrow (Peru, 2009).

The Orator Tusi Tamasese O Le Tulafale
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, Feb. 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.

Albania, Amnesty, Bujar Alimani, director;
Argentina, Aballay, Fernando Spiner, director;
Austria, Breathing, Karl Markovics, director;
Belgium, Bullhead, Michael R. Roskam, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belvedere, Ahmed Imamovic, director;
Brazil, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, José Padilha, director;
Bulgaria, Tilt, Viktor Chouchkov, Jr., director;
Canada, Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau, director;
Chile, Violeta Went to Heaven, Andrés Wood, director;
China, The Flowers of War, Zhang Yimou, director;
Colombia, The Colors of the Mountain, Carlos César Arbeláez, director;
Croatia, 72 Days, Danilo Serbedzija, director;
Cuba, Havanastation, Ian Padrón, director;
Czech Republic, Alois Nebel, Tomás Lunák, director;
Denmark, Superclásico, Ole Christian Madsen, director;
Dominican Republic, Love Child, Leticia Tonos, director;
Egypt, Lust, Khaled el Hagar, director;
Estonia, Letters to Angel, Sulev Keedus, director;
Finland, Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki, director;
France, Declaration of War, Valérie Donzelli, director;
Georgia, Chantrapas, Otar Iosseliani, director;
Germany, Pina, Wim Wenders, director;
Greece, Attenberg, Athina Rachel Tsangari, director;
Hong Kong, A Simple Life, Ann Hui, director;
Hungary, The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr, director;
Iceland, Volcano, Rúnar Rúnarsson, director;
India, Abu, Son of Adam, Salim Ahamed, director;
Indonesia, Under the Protection of Ka’Bah, Hanny R. Saputra, director;
Iran, A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, director;
Ireland, As If I Am Not There, Juanita Wilson, director;
Israel, Footnote, Joseph Cedar, director;
Italy, Terraferma, Emanuele Crialese, director;
Japan, Postcard, Kaneto Shindo, director;
Kazakhstan, Returning to the ‘A,’, Egor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, director;
Lebanon, Where Do We Go Now?, Nadine Labaki, director;
Lithuania, Back to Your Arms, Kristijonas Vildziunas, director;
Macedonia, Punk Is Not Dead, Vladimir Blazevski, director;
Mexico, Miss Bala, Gerardo Naranjo, director;
Morocco, Omar Killed Me, Roschdy Zem, director;
Netherlands, Sonny Boy, Maria Peters, director;
New Zealand, The Orator, Tusi Tamasese, director;
Norway, Happy, Happy, Anne Sewitsky, director;
Peru, October, Diego Vega and Daniel Vega, directors;
Philippines, The Woman in the Septic Tank, Marlon N. Rivera, director;
Poland, In Darkness, Agnieszka Holland, director;
Portugal, José and Pilar, Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, director;
Romania, Morgen, Marian Crisan, director;
Russia, Burnt by the Sun 2: The Citadel, Nikita Mikhalkov, director;
Serbia, Montevideo: Taste of a Dream, Dragan Bjelogrlic, director;
Singapore, Tatsumi, Eric Khoo, director;
Slovak Republic, Gypsy, Martin Sulík, director;
South Africa, Beauty, Oliver Hermanus, director;
South Korea, The Front Line, Jang Hun, director;
Spain, Black Bread, Agusti Villaronga, director;
Sweden, Beyond, Pernilla August, director;
Switzerland, Summer Games, Rolando Colla, director;
Taiwan, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, Wei Te-sheng, director;
Thailand, Kon Khon, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, director;
Turkey, Once upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;
United Kingdom, Patagonia, Marc Evans, director;
Uruguay, The Silent House, Gustavo Hernández, director;
Venezuela, Rumble of the Stones, Alejandro Bellame Palacios, director;
Vietnam, The Prince and the Pagoda Boy, Luu Trong Ninh, director.

Hans Zimmer Opting Out of Oscar Race Probably to Have Little Effect on Nominations

At the Ghent Film Festival, Hans Zimmer told The Hollywood Reporter that he’ll sit out this year’s Oscar race for Best Original Score. According to Zimmer, the murder of his longtime publicist Ronni Chasen* was one reason for his decision, though that came about chiefly as a result of his desire to “to take a step back and say ‘I’m not in the race,” and thus focus on his current projects.

The composers themselves, not the studios, must submit their own scores. The fact that Zimmer won’t be submitting his work for Rango or Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows most likely won’t change the prospects for the Best Original Score category as neither work has been perceived as a top contender for a nomination. Or, for that matter, Zimmer’s scores for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, and The Dilemma.

Zimmer, who is currently working on the score for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, has been nominated for nine Academy Awards in the Music categories. He won for The Lion King (Best Original Score) in early 1994. In the last ten years, he earned only two Oscar nods: Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Inception (2010).

* If the Beverly Hills Police Department is to be trusted, Chasen was the random victim of a lunatic acting alone on a deserted local street. He then bragged about the murder, was found out, and finally killed himself before any questions could be asked.

Hans Zimmer picture:

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker’s The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar semifinalists

Lucy Walker’s The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Rebecca Cammisa’s God Is the Bigger Elvis, and Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill’s In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution are among eight films still in the running for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Five of those shorts will earn Oscar nominations.

The semi-finalists were selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Documentary Branch. Thirty-five entries were originally submitted.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information out there about several of the current contenders, but at least some of the shorts – inevitably – revolve around recent international events, e.g., In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution; The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, about how some in Japan use art and the national flower to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year; and James Spione’s Tribeca Film Festival winner Incident in New Baghdad, in which a U.S. serviceman recounts his experiences after an American attack left a group of mostly unarmed men – including two Reuters journalists – dead.

Several of the potential nominees have had ties to the Academy in the past. For instance, Lucy Walker was nominated for the Documentary Feature Waste Land earlier this year; Rebecca Cammisa was nominated for Which Way Home early in 2010; and James Spione won a Student Academy Award back in 1987.

The eight Oscar 2012 semi-finalists for Best Documentary Short Subject are listed below in alphabetical order by title, along with their production company.

  • The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, Purposeful Productions, Inc.
  • God Is the Bigger Elvis, Documentress Films
  • In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution, Downtown Docs
  • Incident in New Baghdad, Morninglight Films
  • Pipe Dreams, Leslie Iwerks Productions
  • Saving Face, Milkhaus/Jungefilm
  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Supply & Demand Integrated
  • Witness, Buche

The 2012 Academy Award nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 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.

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Charles Eggen -

“it’s considered the very first Samoan movie ever.”

Depending upon one’s definition of “first” or “Samoan movie”, I believe an error has been made.
I would suggest that the first was the 1990 film, ‘Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree’, based upon the
Albert Wendt story.



Andre -

Charles, thanks for writing.

From what I’ve read, Martyn Sanderson’s “Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree” is a New Zealand production shot in Samoa.
In a way, of course, so is “The Orator”… I think the chief difference is that filmmaker Tusi Tamasese was born in Samoa.


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