Over the past two weeks in Pollock Theater, the film series “For Your Consideration: The 2013 Oscar Nominees for Best Foreign Language Film” has screened all five of the 2013 Oscar-nominated foreign feature films. Additionally, each night one of the five Oscar-nominated Animated Shorts was screened before the feature film. The yearly series allows students and locals an opportunity to see Oscar-worthy foreign films that might otherwise be difficult to come across in theaters.
The feature films came from a range of countries including Austria, Chile and Norway. The first week of the International Foreign Language films featured “Amour” from Austria. The film centered on a retired sixty-year-old music teacher and her husband’s struggle with her deteriorating health. Her husband cares for his love as their life together irrevocably changes while her condition worsens. The film has gotten great reviews by major film critics.
The following evening featured “Kon-Tiki,” a Norwegian film about an anthropologist who developed a theory that native Polynesians came originally from the Americas rather than Asia. Although his ideas are dismissed by the scientific community, he sets sail from Peru to Polynesia to prove that the ocean journey was possible.
On Monday, Feb. 12, the Canadian film “War Witch” moved the audience. In a war-torn central African nation, a twelve-year-old girl is abducted from her village and forced to fight as a child soldier. She endures brutal and horrific experiences for the next two years that damage her beyond repair.
On Valentine’s Day, the Pollock screened “A Royal Affair,” a film about the relationship between the queen of Denmark and the German doctor who is her husband’s trusted advisor, which leads to sweeping changes in the country. Married as a teenager to the mentally unstable King Christian VII, Queen Carline Mathilde finds herself drawn to the compassionate and intelligent Johann Friedrick Struensee. The two soon fall in love and work together to reform Danish society.
On Tuesday, Feb. 13, I watched “No,” a Chilean film depicting advertising executive René Saavedra, who is recruited by the opponents of the Pinochet regime to create an ad persuading citizens to vote against a referendum supporting the dictator. While many on the left fear that the government will rig the voting, Saavedra hopes that his marketing skills can sell the Chilean people on the possibility of a better world.
Directed by Pablo Larrain, “No” stars Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal who plays René, a well-known advertiser working in Chile in the late 1980s. The film was based on the unpublished play “El Plebiscito,” which captured a time when advertising tactics came to be widely used in political campaigns. René works with a team to create upbeat films and promotional material for the ‘No’ campaign, in the hope that it will encourage the Chilean public to vote ‘No’ to Pinochet leading the nation for another eight years. Meanwhile the boss of his advertising agency is busy working on the ‘Yes’ campaign. The campaign consisted of 27 nights of television advertisements, in which each side had 15 minutes to present their point of view.
One of the unique features of the film was Larraín’s decision to use low definition magnetic tape, which was widely used by television news in Chile in the 80s. I thought that the film was quite artistic but did not personally like the decision to use low definition film, as many of the shots had a strange, blurry quality to them. I could see this lessening the film’s chances of people voting for it for the Oscars.
The 2013 Oscar winners will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 24, so check out the awards to see who wins!