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Archive for October 15th, 2009

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Every year the Oscars award a Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.  Is this a great showcase for foreign language films or a patronising or even slightly xenophobic attitude to filmmakers from none English speaking countries.  These films often don’t receive nominations in major categories.  And when they do it is incredibly rare for them to win.  It is like the academy saying they are good but not as good as what we can do.  In fact more often than not they are better than what Hollywood is churning out.  Originally a Special/Honorary Award was given to Foreign Language Films between 1947 and 1955 until the current award was launched in 1957.  The first winner was Federico Fellini’s La strada; an altogether better film than the best picture winner Around the World in Eighty Days. 

The selection process for the award is different to all other catergries in that it does not require films to be released in the United States.  Instead the film must have been released in the country submitting it (for no less than seven days during a proscribed period).  Every country is invited to submit just one film to the Academy.  Although referred to as Foreign Language Film the category does exclude American films such as Letters from Iwo Jima, although a Japanese language film it was an American production (it did however with the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film as they have a different criteria).  All of this does suggest the category is somewhat redundant except as a showcase for films that otherwise wouldn’t receive recognition at the Oscars.  I am not saying that I would like the category scrapped but if it did result in films from other countries and in other languages being more integrated into the main competition it would surely be a good thing. 

With the recent changes to the best picture category it is unlikely any more changes will be made but it is an interesting idea.  I recently suggested that six of the last ten best picture Oscars should have gone to Foreign Language Films. 

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