Cinema Is Never 'Foreign'

By Mitchell, Wendy | Screen International, November 21, 2014 | Go to article overview

Cinema Is Never 'Foreign'


Mitchell, Wendy, Screen International


Screen has kicked off our awards season coverage, with a focus on the foreign-language race.

There are a lot of great films in the mix this year, and a record 83 submissions.

It's worth arguing for the umpteenth time that some of these films are among the best of the year, not just the best of the year not in the English language. It would be great to see the Academy take more risks by nominating international films across categories, not just ringfencing them.

Pawel Pawlikowski would be a worthy nominee for Best Director, for instance, and it really doesn't matter that his outstanding film, Ida, is in the Polish language, or indeed Ruben Ostlund for his standout Force Majeure from Sweden. Anne Dorval from Xavier Dolan's Mommy would be a fine addition to the Best Actress nominees. Or Argentina's Wild Tales for script, Russia's Leviathan for cinematography... you get the point.

Sure the crossover happens sometimes, like Marion Cotillard's win for La Vie En Rose in 2008 - and she might be in this year's race with Two Days, One Night.

The other ringfenced category that could use some open-minded voting is Best Documentary Feature. Laura Poitras would be another strong candidate for Best Director and Citizenfour for Best Film, and I hope there are some voters in the Academy that would think about films without categorising them.

The same goes for the animated category: surely one or more of the animated features deserves a Best Picture nomination. No matter their mother tongue or cinematic language, the best work of the year should be recognised as such. Diversity of form and content should be celebrated, especially given the possibility of 10 Best Picture nominees.

Going local

Of course, the wonderful thing about most of those 83 foreign language films is that they aren't trying to emulate US indies or studio blockbusters (America is doing just fine making those itself, thanks very much).

They are introducing audiences to new approaches, new voices, or people and places they wouldn't otherwise see on screen (even if universal themes emerge). …

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