The 10th Annual "For Your Consideration: a Selection of Oscar Submissions from Around the World" will be featured in an exclusive San Francisco Bay Area series of 14 films from 14 countries. The films were in competition for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film. The screenings run Jan. 11- 17 at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
From 71 films sent to the Academy as the best film of their country, the San Rafael event has selected some of the best from the competition.
The short list for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film includes four films from Canada, Chile, Iceland and Norway to be shown in San Rafael:
Austria, "Amour," directed by Michael Haneke
Canada, "War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen
Chile, "No," directed by Pablo Larrain
Denmark, "A Royal Affair," directed by Nikolaj Arcel
France, "The Intouchables," directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Iceland, "The Deep," directed by Baltasar Kormakur
Norway, "Kon-Tiki," directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Romania, "Beyond The Hills," directed by Cristian Mungiu
Switzerland, "Sister," directed by Ursula Meier
The final five nominees were announced Jan. 10 including “War Witch’ (Rebelle) by Kim Nguyen (Canada) , "Kon-Tik"i by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Norway) and "No" by Pablo Larrain (Chile).
"War Witch" is the story of a 12-year-old girl who is abducted by a rebel army. They call her ‘witch’ because they believe she has special powers and knows when the enemy is near. Two years later she is with child from the commander. Rachel Mwanza won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her role. Witch is a child soldier who is asked to murder by the rebels to test her loyalty. She is befriended by a young boy her age called Magicien. The children grow up fast and hard. The filmmaking is brilliant and the story moving, which makes it a strong contender for this year’s Best Foreign Language film.
"Kon-Tiki" by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg from Norway is the story of the legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who set sail with a crew of five men on a wooden raft in 1947 to prove that people from South America could have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The sea voyage consumes the bulk of the film and is not without adventure especially when the raft seems to be waterlogged and a school of hungry shark swim nearby ready to flip the vessel. As an historical document it is interesting to bring to life the story of this famous Norwegian whose book about his adventures was translated into many languages and his documentary won an Academy Award.
"No" by Pablo Larrain stars Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal as an advertising man in Chile during the late 1980's who helped to topple the Pinochet regime. The film takes a look at how advertising was used in political campaigns to promote the continuation of Pinochet’s dictatorship. The film won the top award at the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival last May.
Two of the final five nominations, which will not be screened at San Rafael are:
"Amour" by Michael Haneke that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May. "Amour" is a priceless portrait of an elderly couple played by Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva (nominated for a best actress Oscar). When Anne loses her memory one day it is not long until her body is in a continual meltdown. She is dutifully cared for by her loving husband Georges. The account of this metamorphosis is phenomenal and Haneke knows how to tell it.
"A Royal Affair" (En Kongelig Affaere, Denmark 2012) is the story of the Danish King Kristian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) , a mentally unstable monarch whose arranged marriage to Princess Caroline Matilda of Wales (Alicia Vikander) and his friendship with Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) later became the source of a scandal. The film is based on a novel by Swedish author Per Olov Enquist's "The Royal Physician's Visit"(1999).
Other films to be screened in San Rafael include the best film at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. Kim Ki-duk won the Golden Lion for "Pièta". The shots are artfully arranged in a fragmented and dark story about a wayward boy and his mother whom he mistreats in punishment for her abandonment. For Kim, mother and son evoke the Virgin Mary and Jesus, as exemplified in the famous Italian sculpture "La Pièta" by Michelangelo in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.
One other film worth mentioning that was on the short list is "Sister" by Ursula Meier about a young boy who tries to survive by stealing ski supplies in a resort in the Swiss Alps. Meier skillfully shows that life for those who struggle at the top is not very different for those who live on the bottom.