If you’ve ever been annoyed at the Oscar nominations for the best foreign language film it’s not all the Academy’s fault; blame the countries that made the movies too. Every country has a different way to decide which film to submit, but it is their decision and sometimes the decision is a curious one.
The Academy Award for best foreign language film is awarded every year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s given to a film produced outside the US with predominantly non-English dialogue. The award is a little different from other Academy Awards because the movie’s director accepts it for his or her country and not personally.
The award went to European countries 80% of the time since 1947 with Federico Fellini directing 4 of the films. This year Italy’s decided to let the Taviani brothers have a crack at representing the country with their prison docudrama, Cesare Deve Morire (Caesar Must Die).
Cesare Deve Morire – Caesar Must Die – my review
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani made this movie about and featuring real inmates at a high-security prison in Rome who are preparing for a public performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” It won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival and the Nastro D’Argento, and the Taviani Brothers won the David di Donatello Award for best directors.
But the reviews have been mixed. Some reviewers have talked about the real inmates not seeming so real with words that have been put into their mouths; I found it to be very moving and beautifully filmed, much of it in black and white. I’ll need to take a close look at the competition, but Cesare Deve Morire is a contender. There have been submissions in recent years that have not been so smart, like Baarìa in 2009 and The First Beautiful Thing in 2010, unexportable movies that didn’t have a chance.
The Taviani Brothers have a chance. Adopt Films have secured the US distribution rights and we’ll be watching for availability.