CATEGORIES Documentary, Foreign Language, Independent, Awards, Cinematical Indie, War, Awards, CinematicalI'm always fascinated by the choices different countries make for their Best Foreign Language Film submission. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences leaves the selection process up to each country. Rule Fourteen states in part: "Selection of the best picture from each country shall be made by one organization, jury or committee that should include artists and/or craftspeople from the field of motion pictures." A few days ago, The Netherlands chose to submit Duska, a romantic tragicomedy, and now two more countries have announced their submissions. Variety Asia Online reports that Thailand is backing The Legend of Naresuan: Declaration in Independence, while indieWIRE has the news that Austria has selected The Counterfeiters.
As noted in the Variety article, Naresuan is the second film in a trilogy and is based on the 16th century adventures of the King of Siam. The Variety review by Richard Kuipers, which gives the subtitle as The Reclamation of Sovereignty, says the film "is a much more entertaining, if still confusing, proposition for foreign observers than the first." Action fans should be delighted -- Kuipers says more than one half of the running time is devoted to "massive battle scenes" -- but, sadly, I don't think that translates into Academy favor. Local audiences made Naresuan the country's all-time box office champion earlier this year.
The Counterfeiters (pictured) features one of my favorite actors, August Diehl (Tattoo, Distant Lights, Love in Thoughts). He's forced into service as part of a huge counterfeiting operation set up by the Nazis in 1936. The team is led by Karl Markovics, a convicted criminal facing a moral dilemma. Based on a true story, the film was directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Anatomy). The Counterfeiters won the Golden Bear at Berlin; Sony Pictures Classics plans a 2008 release.