Foreign films navigate rough waters to reach Oscars

Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:26pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu knew he was in a bad way when the film critics who loved his drama "Biutiful" kept calling it bleak, dark and depressing.

Those adjectives scared off distributors, particularly in the United States, where the director said "everyone was really afraid of the film" about a dying man played by Javier Bardem.

It took four months to find a U.S. distributor, but now "Biutiful" is playing in major cities and is a front-runner

for best foreign language film at Sunday's Oscars, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Bardem, the Spanish Oscar winner, is nominated for best actor.

But the director of "Babel and "21 Grams" still said it was "very tough."

Gonzalez-Inarritu is the most well known of the five directors who met Saturday for a pre-Oscar symposium, but like his fellow nominees he suffers the stresses of making films far from the comforts of the Hollywood studio system.

Whether it is hard-to-digest subject matter or shoestring budgets, these directors fought some epic battles on their way to Hollywood's biggest night.

The Greek director of bizarre family drama "Dogtooth," Yorgos Lanthimos, works on a laughably low budget but now can't get state financing because of Greece's debt crisis.   Continued...