War, immigration, politics mark foreign Oscar picks

Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:11pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three films with strong political themes were among the Oscar nominees in the foreign language category on Thursday, with the anti-war "Waltz with Bashir" in the running to win Israel's first Oscar.

The other films nominated for a foreign language Oscar were France's "The Class," Germany's "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Japan's "Departures" and Austria's "Revanche."

"It's a pretty good list, I'm particularly fond of the Israeli picture," said film critic Emanuel Levy, author of the book "All About the Oscars."

"Waltz with Bashir," which mixes documentary filmmaking and animation, deals with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon by revisiting director Ari Folman's memories of fighting in the conflict.

"Waltz with Bashir" is widely considered the Oscar front-runner after winning a Golden Globe earlier this month and being named the best movie of 2008 by the National Society of Film Critics in the United States.

"My film has a very strong anti-war declaration," said Folman, whose film brings Israel's Oscar nomination tally to eight.

"Israel has never won the Oscars, never," he told Reuters. "I'm overwhelmed, but I was not surprised. I was hoping that nothing would go wrong," he said of Thursday's nomination.

Director Uli Edel, 61, said he made "The Baader Meinhof Complex," about the 1970s German left-wing radical group, to teach his 20-something sons about the violent politics that engulfed his country's student movement when he was their age.   Continued...

<p>A scene from the German film "The Baader Meinhof Complex'' is seen in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters January 22, 2009. The film has been nominated for best foreign language film in the 81st Academy Awards, announced in Beverly Hills Thursday. The Oscars will be awarded February 22, 2009 in Hollywood. REUTERS/Constantin Film Productions/Handout</p>