War stories represent the Low Countries
by Boyd van Hoeij
After Belgium's announcement of The Misfortunates [+see also:
interview: Felix van Groeningen
film profile] as its contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, the other two Benelux countries, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, have also weighed in with their choices.
Luxembourg will submit Réfractaire [+see also:
interview: Nicolas Steil
film profile]. The directorial debut of local producer Nicolas Steil is a French-language production set during WWII that stars Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet from Love Songs [+see also:
film profile] as a young man who goes into hiding in an abandoned mine in southern Luxembourg to avoid being sent to the front.
The film, inspired by real events, reveals the difficult position the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy found themselves in after the country was annexed by Germany and the local men were forced to fight on the side of the Germans or go into hiding.
A war story of an entirely different kind has been selected by the Netherlands, who will submit The Silent Army [+see also:
film profile], which was part of the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes earlier this year. The film by African-born, Netherlands-based director Jean van de Velde looks at child soldiers in contemporary Africa through the story of a Dutch cook who searches for the young friend of his preteen son, who is kidnapped by a local warlord.
The choice is not without controversy, as the international cut that premiered in Cannes is very different from the version that premiered late last year in the Netherlands, and this version has never been released commercially at home. Some of the film’s dialogue is also in English.
Several producers of other possible contenders, including box office hits Winter in Wartime [+see also:
film profile] and The Storm [+see also:
film profile], questioned the choice of promotional body Holland Film. The latter re-examined the eligibility of The Silent Army and finally declared it will remain the Dutch submission.
The country has had other submissions, including Mijke de Jong’s Bluebird, disqualified in the past.
The nominations will be announced February 2, and the awards will be handed out March 7.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.