Best International Feature Film has been awarded annually at the Oscars since the 29th Academy Awards in 1956. Each year countries from around the world are allowed to submit just one non-English speaking film for consideration. The Foreign Language Film Award Committee(s) then vote by secret ballot to select the shortlist and eventual Oscar nominees. Directors Paolo Sorrentino (“The Hand of God” – Italy), Maria Schrader (“I’m Your Man” – Germany), Jan P. Matuszynski (“Leave No Traces” – Poland), Tatiana Huezo (“Prayers for the Stolen” – Mexico) and Aly Muritiba (“Private Desert” – Brazil) share what it means to be selected to represent their countries in our Meet The Experts: Film International Feature Panel. Watch the exclusive group roundtable video above. Click each name to watch that person’s individual interview.
“What I hope I can communicate to the world is that my country is a very lively country,” says Sorrentino. “My film is full of life and I think this is a characteristic of our country. I hope that this comes out and can be known and appreciated by all.” In “The Hand of God,” Sorrentino reflects back on his own youth and what it was like growing up in the tumultuous city of Naples in the 1980s.
For Schrader, representing Germany feels new. “I’ve worked a lot abroad,” she explains. “My first movie I shot was not even in Germany, it was in Israel. My second movie I shot was in New York in seven languages and it represented Austria. Then with my series ‘Unorthodox,’ it was not even recognized as a German series. It’s in English and Yiddish. So ‘I’m Your Man’ is the first movie I’ve done in my own language. It’s nice to represent Germany with a comedy.” “I’m Your Man” follows a scientist living with a humanoid robot that has been created to make her happy.
Matuszynski compares his selection to competing in the Olympic Games. “It’s an honor to represent your country,” he admits. “It’s a great thing for a director because you can talk to other nationalities and other countries with your film. Cinema is one of those things that makes people think that they are not alone and with a story like ‘Leave No Traces,’ I have a feeling it can work everywhere. Cinema is a proper way of putting it out there.” “Leave No Traces” sheds light on the true story of Grzegorz Przemyk, a high school student beaten to death by police in 1983 communist Poland.
“To be representing Brazil with a queer film about love, especially in this moment when our country is being presided by a fascist president, is a testament to Brazilian cinema,” says Muritiba. “International news about Brazil recently is mostly bad. It’s about the Amazon being on fire and human rights problems. People in Brazil are more poor, more hungry, more unhappy. To bring this movie that is about how Brazil loves and dances and smiles, and is about all of the beauty and tolerance that our country also has, shows that Brazil is so much more than this government right now.” “Private Desert” tells the story of a police officer who is suspended after an internal investigation, wandering the country in search of a real encounter with his internet love.
“I’m very proud to be representing Mexico with ‘Prayers for the Stolen,” says Huezo. “Cinema is a bridge that brings us closer to other realities. In this case, it’s a difficult and urgent reality that we’re going through in Mexico. At the same time, it’s also about the rebelliousness, the loyalty and the love of this stage in life of childhood. It’s also an homage to the ferociousness of a mother’s love. Of mothers throughout the world that are giving the tools to their children to be more free.” “Prayers for the Stolen” shows life in a town at war seen through the eyes of three young girls on the path to adolescence.
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