Friday, March 03, 2006

Europe and the Oscars: Lost in translation?

So Oscar night looms. And we hope to see the best/most amusing/most glamorous movies pick up awards. But as was already painfully obvious during the British Baftas, everything is more glamorous and exciting if you speak English. Am I the only one to be increasingly bemused by the sherpherding of all non-English speaking films into a single catch-all bag? The ghettoisation of "world" cinema is becoming increasingly difficult to justify, yet remains firmly entrenched in the UK and US mentalities. It is no secret that German funds bank-rolled a significant part of American output over the past ten years. Before that, the French banks and CANAL+ were major backers. Currently, the UK and France are major co-producing partners, with Spain coming in close behind. This makes it ever more difficult to determine the "nationality" of a film, a situation best illustrated by Warner's backing of "A Very Long Engagement/Un long dimanche de fiançailles" and the ensuing legal battles.

It would be inconceivable that the Cannes festival shepherd all non French-speaking films into a single category and leave them there. So why do the language policies still hold in London and L.A.? But US and UK audiences don't like watching foreign-language films, I'm sometimes told. If the bias reflects popular opinion, then why not push this to its logical conclusion and just give awards to the biggest-grossing movies in each country and have done with it? That would be the best reflection of popular opinion wouldn't it? Who needs an academy? Your thoughts are welcome on this issue.

European productions competing at the Oscars this year include: "Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noël", the controversial "Paradise Now", "Sophie Schell", "Don't Tell", "The Constant Gardener", "Pride and Prejudice", "Mrs Henderson Presents" and "The March of the Penguins".

UPDATE March 6: Euro winners at the Oscars include "March of the Penguins (best documentary), "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (best animated feature) and Rachel Weisz, best supporting actress for "The Constant Gardener".


Barbara Peterson said...


In January you wre kind enough to mention The Thunder Child interview with Bert Coules.

The webzine has changed URLs, so your link is now out of date. Below is the correct URL should you care to go back and correct it.

A-Lyric said...

Thanks for the update.