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Oscar reactions: Foreign films from Michael Haneke's 'Amour' to Denmark's 'A Royal Affair'

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The power and influence of foreign film has never been more apparent in recent memory when it comes to the Oscars than this year, with Michael Haneke’s beautifully frank French-language look at aging, Amour, being nominated for both best picture and best foreign language film, best director, best actress, and best original screenplay.

Other nominated movies announced Thursday morning in the best foreign language film category for the 85th annual Academy Awards, airing live on ABC Feb. 24, range from Norway’s watery expedition adventure Kon-Tiki to fellow Scandinavian country Denmark’s A Royal Affair, an 18th century set royals drama, to Chile’s NO, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, about the real-life “NO” TV ad campaign that aired during dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign, and Canada’s War Witch, a French-language story about a teenage Congolese girl abducted by a rebel army to fight for their cause.

Austria’s Amour, with its multiple Oscar nominations and other awards season wins, has been touted as a clear frontrunner, but the category’s mix of tales based on real-life stories, political intrigue, and emotional relationships gives it some heft. Check out these reactions from the films’ directors, below:
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Chile's Oscar foreign film entry 'No' director on politics, freedom, and working with Gael Garcia Bernal

NO-GARCIA

As part of an early look at next year’s Oscars, Prize Fighter — in an ongoing series — is highlighting several of the directors and official entries submitted by a whopping 71 countries competing for the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

No. No. NO!

For such a small word, it packs incredible, immediate power shouted in the name of freedom, as in Chile’s official Oscar foreign film entry No, directed by Pablo Larraín (Tony Manero, Post Mortem) and starring Gael García Bernal.

Based on a pivotal moment in Chile’s history, the movie delves into the dueling “YES” and “NO” ad campaigns that aired on TV when dictator Augusto Pinochet scheduled a referendum in 1988, after 15 years in power, for citizens to vote “yes” or “no” to keep him as president another eight years. The movie, adapted from the play El Plebiscito by Antonio Skármeta, has a gritty, realistic feel, shot on videotape and weaving in actual footage from the campaigns. Bernal plays the fictional commercials ad man René Saavedra, who heads up the creatively astute, humorous, and hopeful coalition NO campaign, which beat out the Pinochet-driven YES campaign. Each campaign had 15 minutes of TV airtime a night for 27 days, with the NO campaign’s ad relegated to late night.

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Watch Gael Garcia Bernal in the trailer for 'No'

Get ready to hustle to the nearest art-house cinema, because No is headed to the states.

Directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín (Prófugos, Post Mortem), the movie details the landmark 1988 marketing campaign that helped unseat Chile’s notorious military dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Indie flick staple Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle DiariesY Tu Mamá También) stars as René Saavedra, an ad man who develops the campaign’s signature aesthetic and its slogan, “Chile, la alegría ya viene” (“Chile, joy is coming”). It is based on the play El Plebiscito by Antonio Skármeta and was shot using period-appropriate videotape, allowing for seamless blending of new material and footage from the original 1988 event.

No won Art Cinema Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is Chile’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Watch the trailer after the jump. READ FULL STORY

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