WILL AFRICA BRING HOME AN OSCAR?
The country held its breath when Oliver Schmitz’ film Life. Above All made the long list and then the shortlist for The Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars.
The South African drama tells the story of Chanda, played by Khomotso Manyaka, who fights the fear and shame that has poisoned her community.
There was reason to be hopeful: the film won The Francois Chalais Prize at The Cannes Film Festival, The Special Jury Prize at Durban International Film Festival, and has seven nominations at The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAS).
Sadly, Life, Above All didn’t crack the final nod, but there are several African contenders remaining to carry the torch.
In The Foreign Language Film category, Susanne Bier’s In a Better World is a top contender. The film, shot in Denmark and Kenya, won The Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film; Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at The Sevilla Festival de Cine; The Marc’Aurelio Audience Award for Best Film and Marc’Aurelio Grand Jury Award at Rome International Film Festival; and The Creative Excellence Award at Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
In a Better World is the story of a doctor, played by Mikael Persbrand, who commutes between his home in Denmark and his work at an African refugee camp. It explores the
Algeria’s official entry, Outside the Law, is director Rachid Bouchareb’s third film nominated for The Foreign Language Film category. The film is set during the Algerian War and fight for independence which took place between 1945 and 1962. It is a French majority production with co-producers in Algeria, Tunisia and Belgium. The film was shot on location in Algeria.
Outside the Law was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 16th Lumière Awards, voted by foreign journalists who work in Paris. It was also screened at The Cannes Film Festival, where it was arguably the most controversial film on show.
In a Better World and Outside the Law are competing against Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth from Greece, which won Un Certain Regarde at Cannes; Canada’s Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve); and Mexico’s Biutiful, which also has Javier Bardem up for Best Actor and is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel).
In the Short Film (Animation) category, Bastien Dubois’ Madagascar, a Journey Diary, (also known as Madagascar, carnet de voyage) is a travel diary that follows the trip of a European traveller in Madagascar.
As the pages of the diary turn, so the drawings come to life. The animated short has screened at several festivals,
In the Short Film (Live Action) category, another African contender comes in the form of Na Wewe, which means “You Too” in Kirundi.
The Flemish entry, directed by Ivan Goldschmidt, details the genocidal conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis during the Burundi civil war in 1994. The film was shot in Brussels, Ghent and Bujumbura in Burundi. Interestingly, all the cast, except Flemish actor Renaud Rutten, were found on location in Burundi.
The film won The Grand Prix for Short Film at The Tübingen Festival in Germany; The Public’s Prize at The Brussels Festival; The Author’s Prize at The Independent Film Festival; and The Prize of the Press at The Media Festival. It was ranked as one of the top ten shorts
The Academy Awards takes place on 27 February 2011. In the meantime, catch the trailers of all the African contenders here.