The last German success at the foreign Oscar was 15 years ago. At that time, the Stasi drama “The Lives of Others” won. It has now been decided who should start the race for Germany in 2023.
Munich – The film adaptation of a literary classic is supposed to bring the Oscar to Germany: The remarque film adaptation “Nothing new in the West” will be in the running for the coveted trophy in 2023. That was decided by a jury on Wednesday in Munich, as announced by German Films, the agency for German film abroad.
“The first German film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s almost 100-year-old novel is shockingly up-to-date and makes a powerful statement against the war,” was the verdict of the jury.
“Erich Maria Remarque wrote a book almost 100 years ago that is sadly more relevant today than we expected,” said director Edward Berger. “It is a great honor for us that we are now going into the race for the Oscars with our film. It’s a long way.”
Relentless portrayal of war
The jury called the film “a radical work”. “It ruthlessly shows the machinery and dehumanization of war in the material symbolism of shattered uniforms, collapsing trenches and destroyed bodies.” The film shows “the Iron Generation of the 1910s (…) as the Lost Generation”. Director Berger unmasks “with clarity how glory-seeking decision-makers who are removed from the world send young soldiers into battle with arrogant vanity and sacrifice them without conscience”.
Germany’s last success in the Oscar category for best non-English language film was 15 years ago. At that time, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Stasi drama “The Lives of Others” won. For years, the jury that decides on the German candidate – possibly because of this success – then concentrated on films that dealt with recent German history.
Because traditionally it was these contributions that had very good chances at the Academy in the USA. Caroline Link’s “Nowhere in Africa,” which won the 2003 Oscar for Foreign Studies, tells the story of a Jewish family that flees Germany to Kenya in the 1930s.
In 2018, the Donnersmarck jury even sent his film “Werk ohne Autor” about Gerhard Richter to Hollywood a second time. But he could not repeat his Oscar success.
The strategy then changed in recent years: in 2019 the jury decided on the social drama “System Crasher”, a year later the political drama “And tomorrow the whole world” was chosen as a candidate. Maria Schrader’s futuristic tragic comedy Ich bin dein Mensch was shortlisted for the Oscars this spring, but didn’t make it into the finals.
Berger’s remarque film has now prevailed against eight other applicants, including “Dear Kurt” by director, producer and actor Til Schweiger. The film adaptation of the bestseller “Kurt” by Sarah Kuttner tells the story of the fate of a young blended family, with Schweiger playing one of the main roles.
The other candidates were the film “Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush” by Andreas Dresen, “Everybody is talking about the weather” by Annika Pinske, “Everything in the Best Order” by Natja Brunckhorst, “The Passport Forger” by Maggie Peren, “Nico” by Eline Gehring, “Nobody is with the calves” by Sabrina Sarabi and “We might as well be dead” by Natalia Sinelnikova.
The choice of the German contribution is only a preliminary stage in the race for the foreign Oscar. The shortlist of 15 titles from the international applicants will be announced in December. The five nominated films are then selected from this shortlist. The Oscars will then be awarded on March 12, 2023. dpa