Friday, January 22, 2016

Film Club: Oscars 2016

One of the biggest news stories in the United States lately has been the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations for acting. That said, other Oscar categories have honored diverse productions from all over the world with nominations this year, including several nominees in the two documentary categories which you can learn more about here.

In any case, there's one category that is always diverse by definition: the award for "Best Foreign Language Film". Today we're going to take a look at the five nominees, which hail from Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

Son of Saul - Hungary

If you read our recent post on the Golden Globe nominees for "Best Foreign Language Film", then you might recall that Son of Saul was the first Hungarian film ever to win a Golden Globe. Saul fia, as it's known in Hungarian, tells the sad tale of a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner working in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

A few mustangs, free-roaming horses in the Americas.
Mustang - France

Another nominee you might recognize is Mustang, a Turkish-language film that was also nominated for a Golden Globe. It focuses on the story of five orphaned sisters in a Turkish village trying to find whatever freedom they can in their conservative society.

Embrace of the Serpent - Colombia

The final three films weren't nominated for Golden Globes, but that doesn't make them any less wonderful. Embrace of the Serpent, which goes by the title El abrazo de la serpiente in Spanish, tells two stories set in 1909 and 1940 that revolve around Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman who helps Western scientists in search of a sacred plant. Interestingly, the film was inspired by the field diaries of two scientists who worked in the Amazon.

Theeb - Jordan

Jordan's first-ever Oscar nominee is Theeb, an Arabic-language film. It tells the story of a Bedouin boy named Theeb who is asked to lead a British officer on a dangerous journey through the desert in order to reach to a location of strategic importance during World War I. One of the most amazing aspects of the film is the fact that almost all of the actors in it are non-professional actors who had never been involved in a film before.

A War - Denmark

The final nominee for this year's foreign language film Oscar is A War, also known as Krigen in Danish. Unsurprisingly, it too is a war story, though it focuses on a more timely tale of a Danish military company in Afghanistan. It also features non-professional actors, since all of the soldiers in the film that are not main characters are played by actual Danish soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

Since all of these films are so recent, it might be difficult to find them at your local cinema. While you wait for them to be available in your area, on DVD, or online, we recommend checking out last year's nominees, including Ida, the winning entry from Poland. We'll have to wait until February 28th to find out who wins this year's Oscar!