“Lore” is one of a record 71 films this year that are vying for a coveted Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Adapted by writer/director Cate Shortland from the bestselling novel “The Dark Room” by Rachel Seiffert, it follows the journey of five siblings, led by 14 year-old Lore (played by leading lady Saskia Rosendahl) who are forced to travel from southern Germany to their grandmother’s home on the North Sea coast during the dying days of World War II, after their Nazi collaborator parents are arrested and interned by allied forces.
Shortland’s debut feature “Somersault” claimed numerous prizes and awards in her native Australia back in 2004, but it took eight years to follow up her early success, with a film that is particularly unconventional — a German-language period piece by a non-German speaking director, focusing on Nazi perpetrators rather than the victims of Hitler’s regime.
“I did feel pressure” says Shortland, when discussing the gap between projects. “I think that was part of the reason why I made the film in German. I just wanted to make something as far away from “Somersault” as possible.” Talking about her primary motivations for making such a departure from her first film, Shortland also explains that “the complexities and the ambiguities in the material felt really fresh; and it felt like it was also a part of our society, … like a really interesting way of me examining my own history as well as looking at German history.”
Although Australia is not renowned for producing films in foreign languages, six films have been submitted from Oz for Oscar consideration in this category: “Floating Life” (1996), “La Spagnola” (2001), “Ten Canoes” (2006), “The Home Song Stories” (2007) and most recently “Samson and Delilah”(2009), which became the first Australian film to make the shortlist, but ultimately missed out on a nomination.
If “Lore” can become the first Australian film nominated in this category this January, Shortland admits it would be a “dream come true.” However, as far as Shortland is concerned, just having the film submitted as a contender is important because “you just want people to see what you’ve made” she smiles. “It’s a low budget film, so it means we now have a bit more publicity, which means the film will have a bit more life and people will see it.”