Today five nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar were announced.
The Broken Circle Breakdown
THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN directed by Felix Van Groeningen is a portrait of the great love affair between tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens, The White Queen) and bluegrass musician Didier (Johan Heldenbergh). After bonding over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, they dive headfirst into a sweeping romance that plays out on and off stage — but when an unexpected tragedy hits their new family, everything they know and love is tested.
Lead actor Johan Heldenbergh co-wrote the hit play that THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN is based on. It was adapted for the screen by director Felix Van Groeningen with Carl Joos (The Memory of a Killer). Bjorn Eriksson composed the bluegrass songs, created the score, and guided the performances of the two actors who do their own singing in the film. The soundtrack was number one in the soundtrack charts in the territories where it has been released and has become the best-selling soundtrack of all time in Belgium. Co-stars Baetens and Heldenbergh are part of the off-screen Broken Circle Breakdown Bluegrass Band, whose European tour is sold out all through 2014.
Van Groeningen graduated from Ghent’s KASK (Royal Academy of Fine Arts). His previous film, The Misfortunates, was a selection of the Cannes Film Festival’s Director Fortnight where it won the CICAE prize. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN, an audience favorite at film festivals around the world and in its home country where it was a smash box office hit, is his fourth feature.
The Great Beauty
The Great Beayty is directed by Paolo Sorrentino . For decades, journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the glittering nightlife of Rome. Since the legendary success of his only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city’s literary and elite social circles. But on his sixty-fifth birthday, Jep unexpectedly finds himself taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the lavish nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome itself, in all its monumental glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. Featuring sensuous cinematography, a lush score, and an award-winning central performance by the great Toni Servillo, this transporting experience by the brilliant Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is a breathtaking Fellini-esque tale of decadence and lost love.
THE HUNT directed and co-written by Thomas Vinterberg is a disturbing depiction of how a lie becomes the truth when gossip, doubt and malice are allowed to flourish and ignite a witch-hunt that soon threatens to destroy an innocent man’s life. Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his penetrating portrayal of Lucas, a former school teacher who has been forced to start over having overcome a tough divorce and the loss of his job. Just as things are starting to go his way, his life is shattered when an untruthful remark throws his small community into a collective state of hysteria. As the lie spreads, Lucas is forced to fight a lonely fight for his life and dignity.
The Missing Picture
The Missing Picture is directed by directed by Rithy Panh. Few images exist of the brutality unleashed on Cambodia by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge following the Kampuchean Revolution in 1975. Using clay figures to stand in for himself, his family and the many Cambodians whose lives were destroyed during the years that followed, Rithy Panh recreates a dark and bloody period in his country’s history.
Omar is directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Omar is a tense and gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar (newcomer Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet his beautiful girlfriend Nadja (Leem Lubany), his militant best friend Tarek (Eyad Hourani)’s younger sister. By night, he’s either a freedom fighter or a terrorist ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends. Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game—is he playing his Israeli handler (Palestinian-American actor Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? Hany Abu-Assad has written and directed a dynamic, action-packed drama about the insoluble moral dilemmas and tough choices facing those on the front lines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up.
Born in Nazareth, Palestine, Hany Abu-Assad studied and worked as an airplane engineer in the Netherlands before embarking on his film career. His 2006 film Paradise Now won the Golden Globe, Independent Spirit and National Board of Review Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, and was one of the five Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. His feature films include Rana’s Wedding and the documentaries Nazareth 2000 and Ford Transit.
Also the French-Belgia Ernest & Celestine animated film is among Animated Feature Film nominees.
Beneath a village inhabited by bears lies a subterranean community of mice who steal from their ursine neighbors and particularly value their teeth. When Celestine, an orphaned mouse studying dentistry but dreaming of art, meets a sensitive, talented bear named Ernest, the interests they share lead to a bond between them that challenges the traditional enmity between their species.