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International films break out of Oscars foreign category, led by 'Roma'

Roma Photograph:( Twitter )

Reuters Los Angeles, CA, USA Feb 22, 2019, 01.21 PM (IST)

A foreign language film has never won the movie industry's most prestigious honour, the best picture Oscar. That may be about to change, if Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's critically-acclaimed 'Roma' scores the big win on Sunday (February 24).

Shot entirely in Spanish and an indigenous Mexican language, 'Roma' broke out of the foreign language film category, scoring nominations, not only for best picture, but also director, lead and supporting actress, screenplay, and multiple technical fields.

Other foreign language-nominated films followed suit.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's 'Never Look Away', about a struggling artist in Nazi, and then Communist, eastern Germany, is also nominated for best cinematography. Poland's 'Cold War,' the story of a dark romance between a pianist and a singer, scored a best director nomination for Pawel Pawlikowski.

Whether the surge of interest in foreign language films is fleeting or sign of things to come split opinions at a reception on Thursday (February 21) celebrating the nominated foreign language films.

"This year, because of 'Roma,' I suppose, which is a huge film and by a director who is kind of familiar here as well, I think the foreign language has transcended its usual slot. But I think maybe it's an anomaly. I'm not sure it's a sign of massive changes," Pawlikowski told Reuters.

"I think the Academy has always been surprisingly open and ahead of its time in its internationality, so I just see this as a continuation of something that they've always been doing," said Henckel von Donnersmark.

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, whose film 'Capernaum' tells the story of a 12-year-old boy in a Beirut slum, was more hopeful.

"I feel like it's changing, especially this year, you can see that the films that are in the foreign film category are really strong and everybody's talking about how strong this year is. So I think there's a change. There's some kind of shift," she said.

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda said increased diversity in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, could see more recognition for international films.

"I actually have the right to vote as an Academy member as well and I think that when you get a greater variety of people being involved in the voting, then that's going to shift the result, I think," the "Shoplifters" director said.

The Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday in a live ceremony. (Monday morning in India)

Story highlights

Shot entirely in Spanish and an indigenous Mexican language, 'Roma' broke out of the foreign language film category, scoring nominations, not only for best picture, but also director , lead and supporting actress, screenplay, and multiple technical fields.