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'Capernaum,' 'Roma,' 'Cold War' among foreign-language Oscar nominees

"Capernaum," is a powerful neo-realist drama about a Syrian child refugee from Lebanon's Nadine Labaki

AP , Wednesday 23 Jan 2019
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Five movies about individuals and families confronting social and historical tumult are competing in the Academy Awards' race for best foreign-language film.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's autobiographical masterpiece ``Roma'' and Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski's 20th-century romance ``Cold War'' were among contenders announced Tuesday. They are up against German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's artist biopic ``Never Look Away,'' Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda's's subtle family story ``Shoplifters'' and ``Capernaum,'' a powerful neo-realist drama about a Syrian child refugee from Lebanon's Nadine Labaki.

The winner will be announced at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 24.

``Roma'' received 10 nominations in all, making it the Oscars front-runner alongside Yorgos Lanthimos' pungent period drama ``The Favourite.'' Cuaron's black-and-white film is up for trophies including best director and best picture.

``LONG LIVE ALFONSO!!'' tweeted Cuaron's compatriot, director Guillermo del Toro, while the Mexican Institute of Cinematography posted: ``Feel the Mexican power!''

The awards-season success of the Netflix-produced ``Roma,'' which stars best-actress nominee Yalitza Aparicio as the nanny to an affluent Mexico City family, is a sign of the blurring lines between Hollywood movies and international fare.

``Human experience is one in the same, and it's so gratifying that a black and white film about life in Mexico is being celebrated around the world,'' Cuaron said in a statement. ``We are living a great moment in cinema where diversity is embraced by audiences.''

Another black-and-white period drama is also a contender: ``Cold War,'' Pawlikowsi's tale of romance between a singer and a musician across midcentury Europe.

The film, inspired by the director's parents, was also nominated for Oscars in cinematography and directing.

``Cold War'' cinematographer Lukasz Zal said he was ``very touched, very happy'' by the nomination, and ``terribly happy that I could take part in this great adventure.''

Pawlikowski's last film, ``Ida,'' won the foreign-language Oscar in 2015.

Von Donnersmarck, who won the foreign-language Oscar in 2007 for Cold War surveillance drama ``The Lives of Others,'' is nominated for ``Never Look Away,'' which follows an artist's evolution in a traumatized post-World War II Germany.

It also received a cinematography nod for Caleb Deschanel.

``Never Look Away,'' which explores the healing power and the limits of art, was inspired by the life of 86-year-old German artist Gerhard Richter.

Richter cooperated with the director for the project but has criticized the finished film, telling the New Yorker that it had managed to ``abuse and grossly distort my biography.''

Kore-eda, who won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize with ``Shoplifters,'' said he never expected U.S. recognition for his tale of a family on the margins of Japanese society.

``(The) other four nominated titles in the category are absolutely amazing and strong, and I'm proud that Shoplifters is selected among them,'' Kore-eda said in a statement.

Labaki, the only female director among the five, was celebrating Lebanon's second-straight nomination, after Ziad Doueiri's ``The Insult'' in 2018.

``We have always thought as Lebanese people that unfortunately nothing is possible because we always thought Lebanon is a very small country and we have always felt that we are almost invisible on the map,'' she told The Associated Press.

Labaki, whose film follows a 12-year-old Syrian refugee struggling to survive on the streets of Lebanon, said she hoped its success would show that ``anything is possible, it doesn't matter where you come from, where you are born, what is your background.''

``Anything is possible. You just have to believe in your dream.''

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