Mar 04
WE WERE RIGHT by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Sun, Mar 4, 2012

Three weeks ago, the FAP website ran an article with the headline: Iran Poised to Bag Oscar Best Foreign Language Film Award.

The lead paragraph read: Based on predictions by crystal ball gazers and film critics, Iran is poised to win its first-ever best foreign language film Oscar trophy during the forthcoming 84th edition of the award.

We were proven right. It really came to pass that on the night of February 26, Iranian film nominee A Separation, directed by Ashgar Farhadi, received the coveted trophy as best foreign language film, edging our four other nominated films from Belgium, Canada, Israel and Poland.

In so doing, Iran joined 11 other countries which are one-time winners. An interesting fact that we unearthed while browsing the internet anent the best foreign language film category of the Oscar is that seven countries won their initial trophy during the period from 2000 to 2011.


The 11 countries that Iran joined included:

–Algeria, 1969 winner for Z by Director Costa-Gavras (with 5 other nominations);

–Ivory Coast, 1977 winner for Black and White in Color by Jean Jacques-Annaud (with one nomination);

–West Germany, 1979 winner for The Tin Drum by Volker Schlondorff (with 8 other nominations);

–Hungary, 1981 winner for Mephisto by Istvan Szabo (with 8 other nominations);

–Russia, 1994 winner for Burnt by the Sun by Nikita Mikhalkov (with 5 other nominations);

–Czech Republic, 1996 winner for Kolya by Jan Sverak (with 3 other nominations);

–Taiwan, 2000 winner for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee (with 3 other nominations);

–Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2001 winner for No Man’s Land by Danis Tanovic (with one nomination);

–Canada, 2003 winner for The Barbarian Invasions by Denys Arcand (with 6 other nominations);

–South Africa, 2005 winner for Tsotsi by Gavin Hood (with 2 other nominations); and

–Austria, 2007 winner for The Counterfeiters by Stefan Ruzowitzky (with 3 other nominations).

For four countries, lightning has indeed struck twice, having bagged two trophies for this Oscar Awards category. These are:

–Czechoslovakia (before it became the Czech Republic), winner in 1965 and 1967 for The Shop on Main Street by Jan Kadar & Elmar Klas and Closely-Watched Trains by Jiri Menzel, respectively (with 6 other nominations);

–Switzerland, winner in 1984 and 1990 for Dangerous Moves by Richard Dembo and Journey of Hope by Xavier Koller, respectively (with 5 other nominations);

–Argentina, winner in 1985 and 2009 for The Official Story by Luis Puenzo and The Secret in Their Eyes by Juan Jose Campanella, respectively (with 6 other nominations); and

–Germany (after the reunification), winner in 2002 and 2006 for Nowhere in Africa by Caroline Link and The Lives of Others by Henckel von Donnersmarck, respectively (with 9 other nominations).


We know that sometimes luck indeed knocks thrice and there are four countries with three Oscar trophies each for the foreign language film category. They are:

–Sweden, winner for the Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961) and Fanny and Alexander (1983), all films directed by Ingmar Bergman (with 14 other nominations);

–Soviet Union (before the disintegration of the USSR), winner for War and Peace by Sergei Bondarchuk (1968), Dersu Uzala by Akira Kurosawa (1975) and Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears by Vladimir Menshov (1980) (with 9 other nominations);

–Netherlands, winner for The Assault by Fons Rademakers (1986), Antonia’s Line by Marleen Gorris (1995) and Character by Mark van Diem (1997) (with 7 other nominations); and

–Denmark, winner for Babette’s Feast by Gabriel Axel (1987), Pelle the Conqueror by Bille August (1988) and In a Better World by Susanne Bier (2010) (with 8 other nominations).

(Next week: The 4 most awarded countries and the directors with the most trophies)

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