With the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and the Oscar Awards scheduled for February 6 and March 2 respectively, several award-giving bodies like the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice Movie Awards) and the Screen Actors Guild awards were just recently held.
The Critics’ Choice Award for best foreign language film again went to the French film Blue is the Warmest Color. The multi-awarded film which has so far received awards from 12 film critics associations bested Italy’s The Great Beauty; Denmark’s The Hunt; Iran’s The Past; and Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda.
Last week, we ran capsule notes on four films which have been leading the awards race for the best foreign language film category.
A total of 25 such associations have already announced their best foreign language film awardees even before last year ended. Twelve of these film critics groups singled out Blue is the Warmest Color as the best of 2013. Three critics groups selected The Great Beauty and three others opted for Denmark’s The Hunt.
The twelve groups which unanimously opted for Blue is the Warmest Color as the best foreign language film of 2013 are the Austin Film Critics Association, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Florida FC Circle, the Las Vegas FC Society, the Los Angeles FC Association, the National Society of FC, the New York FC Circle, the Online FC Society, the Phoenix FC Society, the San Francisco FC Circle, the St. Louis Film Critics Association and the Utah Film Critics Circle.
The three groups that selected The Great Beauty are the Boston Society of FC, the Southeastern FC Society and the Toronto FC Association.
The North Carolina FC Association, the Southwestern Film Critics Association and the Vancouver FC Circle picked The Hunt.
Films that won one award each are: Iran’s The Past by Asghar Farhadi (the National Board of Review); The Broken Circle Breakdown (the Washington DC Area FC Association);Norway./Denmark/U.K. and Norway’s The Act of Killing (the Chicago FC Association); Japan’s The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki (Central Ohio FC Association);
Chile’s No by Pablo Larrain (Georgia FC Association); Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda by Haifaa al-Mansour (Women FC Circle); Hongkong’s Drug War by Johnnie To (San Diego FC Society); and India’s The Grandmaster by B. Unnikrishnan (Denver FC Society).
Here are capsule write-ups about three best foreign language film winners:
Southwestern Fim Critics Association best foreign language film
(Runner-up: Blue is the Warmest Color)
North Carolina Film Critics Association best foreign language film
(Nominees: A Hijacking, Blue is the Warmest Color, The Great Beauty, The Past)
Vancouver Film Critics Circle best foreign language film
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
The Hunt is a 2012 Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg. The story is set in a small Danish village around Christmas, and follows a man who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a child.
Lucas is a member of a small, close-knit, Danish community and he works at a local kindergarten. A divorcé, Lucas struggles to maintain a relationship with his son due to his antagonistic wife, but enjoys wholesome interaction with the school children.
He has a girlfriend. a co-worker, Nadja. A nursery pupil Klara, who is also the daughter of Lucas’ best friend, Theo, wrongly accuses Lucas of showing his genitals to her. The nursery personnel, after an investigation, ascertain from the girl’s testimony that Lucas acted in a sexually inappropriate manner around her. All the adults in the community readily believe her story. As a result, Lucas is shunned by the majority of the community as a sexual predator. Lucas soon builds a strong defence; all the children state they were abused in Lucas’ basement, providing vivid descriptions of it despite his house lacking one. Despite this, Lucas’ ostracism turns to violence. A year after the incident, tensions in the community have lessened.
Lucas and Nadja are in a relationship again, and his son is accepted into the local hunting society as an adult member. On a hunting expedition to commemorate the event, Lucas parts from the main group, only to be scarcely missed when an unseen individual shoots at him. Blinded by the setting sun, Lucas is unable to see his attacker, who reloads but flees. Upset by the event, Lucas visibly reflects that he will never be fully vindicated.
The Wind Rises
Central Ohio Film Critics Association best foreign language film
(Runner-up: Blue is the Warmest Color)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Based on Kaze Tachinu by Hayao Miyazaki
The Wind Rises is a 2013 Japanese animated historical fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and adapted from his own manga of the same name which was loosely based on the short story The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori, a writer, poet and translator from mid-20th century (Showa period) Japan. Kaze Tachinu is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A5M (featured in the movie) and its famous successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Both aircraft were used by the Empire of Japan during World War II.
Jiro Horikoshi, a young boy living in a provincial town, has a dream about climbing up onto his roof and flying away in a bird-like airplane, while wearing aviator goggles. Years later, Jiro is at university to study engineering. On traveling back to Tokyo from a holiday, he meets a young girl named Naoko, who is traveling with her maid.
Jiro begins working at an airplane manufacturer, assigned to a fighter design team. Their project ends in failure, with the company losing the design contract to a rival company. Some years later, he is promoted to chief designer for a fighter plane competition sponsored by the Navy, which ends in a failure. Disappointed, Jiro visits a summer resort where he runs into Naoko again; they are engaged soon after.
However, Naoko is afflicted with tuberculosis, and refuses to marry until she recovers.
After some months, Jiro is assigned again as chief designer for another Navy competition. At the same time, Naoko is recuperating in an alpine sanatorium, but she cannot bear being apart from Jiro and agrees to marry him. Even though Naoko’s health continues to deteriorate, she and Jiro enjoy their life together, the one lending strength to the other, right up to the day of the test flight of the prototype of what would become his first successful aircraft, the Mitsubishi A5M. At the test site, Jiro is interrupted by a burst of wind — seemingly implying that his wife has died.
The Act of Killing
Chicago Fiolm Critics Association best foreign language film
(Nominees: Blue is the Warmest Color/The Hunt/Wadjda/The Wind Rises)
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
Country: Norway/Denmark/United Kingdom
The Act of Killing is a 2012 documentary film directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and an anonymous co-director. It is a Danish-British-Norwegian co-production, presented by Final Cut for Real in Denmark and produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen. The executive producers were Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Joram ten Brink, and Andre Singer.
When Sukarno was overthrown by Suharto following the failed coup of the 30 September Movement in 1965, the gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry in Medan (North Sumatra) led the most notorious death squad in North Sumatra, as part of the Indonesian killings of 1965–66. Anwar personally killed approximately 1,000 people, usually by strangling with wire. Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of the right-wing paramilitary organization Pemuda Pancasila that grew out of the death squads. Invited by Oppenheimer, Anwar and his friends eagerly re-enact the killings for the cameras, and make dramatic scenes depicting their memories and feelings about the killings. The scenes are produced in the style of their favorite film genres: gangster, western, and musical.
(Part 3: Four more best foreign language film winners)
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