Best International Feature Film
Among the many Oscar categories today there is one that has grown in value over the past few decades. It is the Best International Feature Film Category. Many great films have gone on to win this award including the 2019 hit from South Korea in ‘Parasite’ and the aptly beautiful film ‘Life is Beautiful’ from Italy. However, the focus of this article will not be on the winners of this category. No, instead, this article will attempt to key in on how the Oscars choose which films to nominate for this award. Now while this may seem like an odd topic I promise it gets more interesting.
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The Academy cannot possibly view and analyze every film that is released around the world each year to see if it is qualified to be nominated for an Oscar. So, the Academy created a system that enabled them to give each country a theoretically equal chance at being nominated for the award. What they decided to do was allow each country to send one film to the Oscars and then the Academy would decide what films from those sent in would be nominated for an Academy Award. This rather simple but effective system has led to some drama over the years, including this year.
The Drama in India
The main problem with this system is that oftentimes countries have a hard time deciding which films from their country to send in. This is exactly what happened to India. India was unsure whether to send in the fan favorite and massive hit ‘RRR’ or to instead send in a yet-to-be-released film titled ‘Last Film Show.’ As I am sure you already know from the title of this article ‘RRR’ was not selected by India and some, including me, even say it was snubbed for ‘Last Film Show’ which was selected instead. Many people around the world were left bewildered by this choice. How could India not submit to the Academy a film which had become not just a sensation in India but globally as well? Well, believe it or not, it is my opinion that there was a logical reason behind this snub, but in order to understand it, you must understand the kind of films that ‘RRR’ and ‘Last Film Show’ are.
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‘RRR’ and ‘Last Film Show’
Let us start with ‘RRR’. ‘RRR’ is a three-hour-long action drama film directed by S.S. Rajamouli and starring the likes of Ram Charan and Alia Bhatt. The film itself follows two revolutionaries and their adventures both at home and far away. This is all I will say about the film because it really is something which is more enjoyable the less you know about it. Make sure to check it out and watch it. The film was a big hit globally and quickly built a large fanbase that was particularly excited about the film’s chances at the upcoming Academy Awards. But it is an action film through and through and historically the action genre is rarely celebrated at the Oscars.
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There is not as much information about ‘Last Film Show’ since the film has yet to be released. As a result of this, keep in mind that everything I say is speculative in a way but is most likely the truth. ‘Last Film Show’ is directed and written by Pan Nalin and it stars Bhavin Rabari. The film itself follows nine-year-old Samay and his journeys in cinema. The film itself has drawn connections to another hit out of Italy which you may have heard of titled ‘Cinema Paradiso.’ The two films have shockingly similar premises which have placed ‘Last Film Show’ in some hot water. But apart from this nothing but good things have been said about ‘Last Film Show.’ It has done well at festival releases and definitely has a chance to be nominated for Best International Film at this year’s Academy Awards. What separates ‘Last Film Show’ and ‘RRR’ is that, from what I can gather from reviews and the trailer, ‘Last Film Show’ is a much more standard drama film that is filled with not only an appealing premise but also strong performances, both of which are highly sought after by the Academy. This is what you have to understand about ‘Last Film Show’ in terms of this controversy.
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So Why the Snub?
The answer is that ‘Last Film Show’ is simply a safer choice than ‘RRR.’ Countries around the world do not like to take chances when it comes to l being represented at an awards show as prestigious as the Academy Awards. So because of this, countries want to send in the film that has the best chance of being nominated and possibly winning the Academy Award for Best International Film. This is why ‘Last Film Show’ was sent to the Oscars instead of ‘RRR,’ it is simply a safer choice. ‘Last Film Show’ is a drama first and foremost and there is no doubt that India believes that Oscar voters will respond better to that drama than the rampant action in ‘RRR.’ This is why this snub occurred, and frankly, it is a shame.
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All in all, countries should be sending in films that push boundaries and start something new. This is what ‘RRR’ does and it is something that ‘Last Film Show’ does not do. I can say with certainty that ‘Last Film Show’ is your standard, run-of-the-mill drama picture full of Oscar bait. ‘Last Film Show’ is not something that we have not seen before. The same however cannot be said for ‘RRR’ which is a true piece of original filmmaking and a picture that pushes the limits of cinema in new ways. Thus, it is a real shame that India did not take a chance and send in ‘RRR’ and that instead, they played it safe and sent in ‘Last Film Show.’ But something tells me that we will still see ‘RRR’ at the Oscars this year, just not in the International Film Category of course.
The Hollywood Insider would like to wish ‘RRR’ and its entire team, the best of luck at the Oscars, for multiple categories including Best Picture.
By Nathaniel Lee
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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