Academy Awards announced the five nominees for the Best Foreign language Film Award. The five nominees are: A Separation (Iran), Bullhead (Belgium), Footnote (Israel), In Darkness (Poland), and Monsieur Lazhar (Canada).
Cinema Without Borders’ visitors, could go to our Home Page and vote for the film that they believe will win the Best Foreign Language Award Film.
A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) Iran, directed by Asghar Farhadi, (Also Asghar Farhadi is nominated for the Best Original Screenplay for A Separation): When bank employee Nader refuses to emigrate, his wife Simin sues for divorce, citing better opportunities for their daughter outside the country. After Simin decamps from the family apartment, Nader hires Razieh, a devout young woman with a four-year-old daughter to mind his Alzheimer-afflicted father. It soon becomes clear that the chador-clad Razieh is pregnant and looking after the wandering, incontinent, elderly man will tax her energy as well as her religious principles. Moreover, Razieh’s debt-ridden, out-of-work husband doesn’t know that she has taken the job, and would never allow her to enter the home of a strange man. Ultimately, fallout from an ugly argument pits Nader and Razieh against one another in the Iranian legal system, forcing all involved to consider the nature of loyalty, truth and integrity. Tense and dramatically complex, formally dense and morally challenging, this is writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s strongest work yet. The provocative plot casts a revealing light on contemporary Iranian society as it takes on issues of gender, class, justice and honor.
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Producer: Asghar Farhadi
Editor: Hayedeh Safiyari
Screenwriter: Asghar Farhadi
Cinematographer: Mahmood Kalari
Music: Sattar Oraki
Principal Cast: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat
Bullhead, Belgium, directed by Michaël R. Roskam.
Part thriller, part character study, Bullhead is an astoundingly stylish, muscular crime drama about gangsters and farmers, set against the backdrop of the Belgian cattle hormones mafia. It’s a tale of friendship and loyalty, betrayal and lost innocence. This is a film about cows and police informers, bulls and headbutts. Young Limburg cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West Flemish beef trader, but the assassination of a federal policeman and a mysterious secret from Jacky’s past set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences. Leading man Matthias Schoenaerts underwent two years of physical training and gained 27 kg to prepare for the role of Jacky, who, after a tragic event in his childhood, gets addicted to testosterone injections, turning him into a tormented muscle machine.
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Producer: Bart van Langendonck
Editor: Alain Dessauvage
Screenwriter: Michaël R. Roskam
Cinematographer: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Music: Raf Keunen
Principal Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian, Frank Lammers, Tibo Lammers
Footnote: Israel, directed by Joseph Cedar
It takes some chutzpah to fashion a gripping suspense film out of an academic spat between Talmudic scholars, but that’s what Joseph Cedar (Beaufort) has accomplished here, and in high style too. Professor Eliezer Shkolnik is at the peak of his career, respected by his peers at home and abroad, admired by his students and liked by everyone. Well, almost everyone… His father Uriel is not so easily impressed, and can barely contain his disdain for a mere “folklorist”. But all that changes when the old man is finally recognized with the state’s most prestigious academic award, the Israel Prize that has eluded him every year for decades. At last, his life’s work is vindicated. But even now, he can’t quite bring himself to lower his lofty standards and concede the merits of his son’s work… Cedar’s masterstroke is to make the son, Eliezer, so sympathetic. The Shkolniks’ rivalry is one-sided – yet multi-faceted. Reminiscent of the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man in its swift, acerbic comic tone, its bravura editing strategies and fundamental profundity, Footnote is utterly compelling and guaranteed to generate rich discussion.
Director: Joseph Cedar
Producer: David Mandil, Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, Joseph Cedar
Editor: Einat Glaser Zarhin
Screenwriter: Joseph Cedar
Cinematographer: Yaron Scharf
Music: Amit Poznansky
Principal Cast: Shlomo Bar Aba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak, Daniel Markovich, Micah Lewesohn, Yuval Scharf, Nevo Kimchi
In Darkness: Poland, directed by Agnieszka Holland
Set in Lvov in 1943, and based on a true story, this multi-strand epic tells the story of Polish sewer worker and petty thief Leopold Socha and a fateful encounter that changes his life. The devoutly Catholic Socha has no particular sympathy for the persecuted Jews. His life, and that of ordinary Poles, seems difficult enough under the subsequent Soviet and German occupations. When Socha encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the threatened liquidation of the ghetto by hiding in the cramped, rat-infested sewers, they offer him money to guide them to a secret spot and provide them with food. Soon, above ground, the ghetto erupts in flames and the Germans execute anyone caught succoring the fleeing inhabitants. As the months pass, the group underground dwindles in number, their finances exhausted. At the same time, Socha’s task becomes increasingly difficult… Justly celebrated for WWII dramas such as Angry Harvest and Europa, Europa, acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland offers a compelling look at the complex reasons a person might risk his life for others.
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Producer: Eric Jordan, Leander Carell, Marc-Daniel Dichant, Patrick Knippel, Juliusz Machulski, Steffen Reuter
Editor: Michal Czarnecki
Screenwriter: David F Shamoon
Cinematographer: Jolanta Dylewska
Music: Antoni Komasa-Lazarkarkiewicz
Principal Cast: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup, Kinga Preis, Krzysztof Skonieczny
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada, directed by Philippe Falardeau
Bachir Lazhar is a middle-aged Algerian immigrant seeking political refuge in Quebec. Bachir jumps at the opportunity to replace a Montreal elementary school teacher who committed suicide one night after class. The school’s overworked principal is initially relieved. The story focuses on Bachir’s relationship with two of his pupils: a ten-year-old boy traumatized by discovering the body of his teacher, and a girl whose interpretation of the event and resentment toward her friend provoke unforeseen revelations. To these children in shock, Bachir’s traditional teaching methods may well provide the structure they need–even if, to Bachir’s dismay, the work of Balzac remains beyond their reach. A luminous and tender tale about the lessons we learn from one another, regardless of age, this complex character study speaks of loss, innocence and imposture in an eloquent yet simple manner.
Director: Philippe Falardeau
Producer: Luc Dery, Kim McCraw
Editor: Stéphane Lafleur
Screenwriter: Philippe Falardeau
Cinematographer: Ronald Plante
Music: Martin Leon
Principal Cast: Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Émilien Neron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart