2015 Academy Awards – Foreign Language Films
A record 83 nations entered films in the Foreign Language category this year. I saw all 83 entries. Before proceeding to my comments about the five nominees and several non-nominees that particularly impressed me, I’d like to make a few general comments.
When I tell people that, over a two-month period, I watched films from 83 different countries, the most common reaction is… a blank stare. Some people can’t sit through one subtitled film much less 83. Others had no idea that 83 different countries even existed, much less made movies. Most people don’t even ask me what my favorites were. But I have to say that I had a wonderful time. Not only were most of the films at least “good”, but even the bad ones usually provide an insight into what is going on in another part of the world.
Here are three lessons I learned from my cinematic world journey:
1. If you need to dispose of a dead body, don’t dump it in a body of water because it is bound to resurface eventually (Chile—To Kill a Man and Ireland—The Gift). A better idea is to burn it. Hopefully I will never have to put this lesson to use, but still it’s good to know, just in case.
2. Cell phones are everywhere, even if you have to walk around and wave the phone in the air to get reception. Desert dwellers use them (Mauritania—Timbuktu); people in remote forests use them (China—The Nightingale); and so do villagers socked in by snow in northern India by the Tibetan border (India—Liar’s Dice). In the case of Liar’s Dice, a cell phone leads to one of the most moving climaxes of the 83 entries.
3. In many cultures and in various eras, women haven’t been allowed to marry for love. A few examples: marriage by kidnapping (Ethiopia—Difret), marriage to settle a tribal feud (Pakistan—Daughter), marriage to settle a debt (South Africa—Elelwani) and marriage to ensure financial security for a widow and her daughters (Germany—Beloved Sisters and Greece—Little England). In Gett from Israel a woman can’t get a divorce unless her husband grants it. And worst of all, when your husband dies they burn you to death (Nepal—Jhola).
The 5 Nominees
10 Notable Non-Nominees
- Belgium—Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit)
- Sweden—Force Majeure (Turist)
- Austria—The Dark Valley (Das finstere Tal)
- Greece—Little England (Mikra Anglia)
- South Korea—Sea Fog (Haemoo)
- India—Liar’s Dice
- Norway—1001 Grams (1001 Gram)
- Brazil—The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho)
- Switzerland—The Circle (Der Kreis)