Palestinian, Belgian films among Oscar nominees
LONDON — A Belgian drama of love, loss and bluegrass, and a tale of tragic romance from the Palestinian territories are among five nominees for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards.
The contenders announced Thursday in Beverly Hills include Felix van Groeningen’s “The Broken Circle Breakdown” – about a music-loving couple facing the serious illness of their child – and Hany Abu-Assad’s “Omar,” the story of a love affair and its consequences against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abu-Assad, an Israeli-born director of Palestinian descent, previously earned an Oscar nomination for his 2005 film “Paradise Now.”
Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg is nominated for “The Hunt,” a tense drama about a teacher, played by Mads Mikkelsen, whose comfortable small-town life is destroyed when he is wrongly accused of child abuse.
Mikkelsen – who played Bond villain Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale” – won the best-actor prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his performance.
“This is a little duckling of a film that has grown into becoming a beautiful swan,” said Peter Aalbaek Jensen, manager of Zentropa Film, the company behind “The Hunt.”
The other foreign-language nominees are Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s bittersweet love letter to Rome, “The Great Beauty”; and “The Missing Picture,” in which Cambodia’s Rithy Panh explores the legacy of Pol Pot’s bloody dictatorship.
Panh’s film, based on his nightmarish memoir “The Elimination,” documents his own family’s experience under the Khmer Rouge, which resulted in the deaths of his parents and sisters.
It won top prize in the “Un Certain Regard” sidebar competition at last year’s Cannes festival.
Winners of the 86th Oscars will be announced March 2 during a ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.