Oscar foreign language nod is especially sweet for the 'outsiders'
LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - As Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad reflected on his second Oscar nomination for best foreign language film while hiking in the hills near Los Angeles on Thursday, he evoked the special sweetness the distinction carries for filmmakers from small, developing corners of the world.
"It means a lot to me, personally," Abu-Assad said in a telephone interview, "because it will give you more opportunities to finance your projects and attract actors." Abu-Assad's film Omar about friendship and betrayal after three Palestinians murder an Israeli soldier, along with Cambodia's Rithy Panh's The Missing Picture represented the outsider countries nominated for best foreign language film, vying for the honour against dramas from established film industries in Italy, Denmark and Belgium.
"It's actually the same challenge as everywhere, financing film," Abu-Assad said. "We don't have a real infrastructure for cinema (in Palestine) because we're still under occupation; it's not easy to move." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will hand out the Academy Awards on March 2, winnowed down 76 competing foreign films to nine in the first phase of the nomination process before announcing the final five.
"The toughest recognition to get is from the people who know the business well," Abu-Assad said. "When you make a movie, you want recognition that you made a good movie and such a nomination gives you that recognition." Each country can nominate one film each year. Last year's winner, Austrian director Michael Haneke's austere French-language drama Amour, went beyond the foreign-language category by scoring nominations for best picture, directing, original screenplay and best actress.