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Once upon a time, the quintessential foreign-language film submission was a sweeping epic or something to do with WWII. No longer. More challenging and topical pictures have been entered and ultimately rewarded. Think of last year’s Chilean winner, “A Fantastic Woman,” centered on a transgender character.
Among this year’s submissions from 87 countries are at least a baker’s dozen that address the current zeitgeist. There are films about refugees and immigrants, sexuality and gender, single fatherhood, the plight of the urban poor, protecting the environment, anti-Semitism, female sex workers, sexual harassment and civilians caught in current wars.
Portrait - Dream - Ballerina
naturalistically drawn portrait of a still-transitioning 15-year-old who is working toward her dream of becoming a professional ballerina.
“ ‘Girl’ began [with] the need to say something about how we perceive gender, about femininity and masculinity,” Dhont says. “But most importantly about an internal struggle of a young heroine who’s putting her body at risk to become the person she wants to be.”
Film - Sexuality - Tolerance - Acceptance - Kosovo
Another film about sexuality, tolerance and acceptance comes from the notoriously homophobic Kosovo, where it is dangerous for gay people to live openly. Director Blerta Zeqiri’s “The Marriage” is an affecting look at how a couple’s wedding is complicated by the return of the groom’s secret former male lover. While shooting, the production team kept their storyline under wraps and were prepared for threats once the film entered theaters. But to their surprise, the film sold out for several weeks and audiences loved it.
The plight of refugees has been a continuing and very personal issue for Swiss director Markus Imhoof (whose fiction feature “The Boat Is Full,” about Switzerland’s shameful rejection of Jewish immigrants during WWII, was a foreign-language nominee in 1982). His documentary “Eldorado” tracks today’s African and Middle Eastern refugees on their dangerous journey to Europe and parallels it with his memories...
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