Illegal sets sights on Oscar nomination
by Aurore Engelen
As we could have guessed, Olivier Masset-Depasse’s Illegal [+see also:
interview: Olivier Masset-Depasse
film profile] (already in competition for the European Parliament LUX Prize 2010) will represent Belgium in the nomination race for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
With almost clockwork regularity, the committee of professionals who select the Belgian candidate, presided this year by Dan Cukier, alternate between Flemish and Francophone productions. In the last four years, Oscar hopefuls have included Ben X [+see also:
interview: Nic Balthazar
interview: Peter Bouckaert
film profile], Eldorado [+see also:
film profile], The Misfortunates [+see also:
interview: Felix van Groeningen
film profile], and now Illegal. A Cannes screening is a definite asset: indeed, the last three candidates were shown on the Croisette, in the Directors’ Fortnight.
Illegal tackles a burning issue in Europe, that of the closed detention centres where illegal immigrants are held while they await deportation back to their country of origin. Because of its universal subject matter, the film could be set in any European city, and it’s no coincidence that it is among the three finalists for the European Parliament’s Lux Prize (to be awarded on November 24).
With his camera clinging to the characters’ bodies, Masset-Depasse films the illegal immigrants’ distress and terror, and the Kafkaesque absurdity of the system which drives them into increasingly inescapable situations. The film centres on Tania, a courageous mother who is torn away from her son and struggles with all her might against the system, even if it means becoming one of the all-too-frequent news stories about the detention centres.
The film was produced by Versus (back in the Oscar race after Eldorado in 2008), in collaboration with France’s Dharamsala and Luxembourg’s Iris Productions, with support from the Belgian French Community, the VAF, Wallimage, RTBF, the MEDIA programme and Tax Shelter.
Sold internationally by Films Distribution, the film will be released in France on October 13 by Haut et Court, and in Belgium on October 6 by O’Brother. The final five Oscar nominees will be announced on January 25, 2011.
(Translated from French)
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