Italy has announced the prison-set docudrama Caesar Must Die will be their official submission for the Best Foreign Film category at the upcoming 85th annual Academy Awards.
The first film by the celebrated sibling director team Paolo and Vittorio Taviani since The Lark Farm in 2007, Caesar Must Die tells of a group of inmates in Rome’s high-security Rebibbia prison as they prepare to perform William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Throughout, colour footage of the finished play is intercut with black-and-white sequences in which the inmates give their thoughts on the production and their incarceration.
Should the film make the final five in the category, it will mark the first time since 2008 a film with strong non-fiction elements advanced so far in the category. That year, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman’s animated memoir Waltz with Bashir followed his search to recover memories of his military experiences during the 1982 Lebanon War (the Japanese drama Departures took the Oscar). Prior to that, no non-fiction film had ever entered that exclusive club.
Caesar Must Die is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Palace Films. It was in competition at this year’s Sydney Film Festival and featured at the Melbourne International Film Festival after taking the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, and has also swept the David Di Donatello Awards, Italy’s version of the Oscars. Though a theatrical release date has yet to be announced, the film is part of the 2012 Italian Film Festival. Kiwi audiences can catch the film as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival, now touring various cities there.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for Best Foreign Film along with the other nominees on January 10th. The 85th annual Academy Awards will be held February 24 in Hollywood.
Italy remains the most awarded foreign country since foreign films began to be honored with individual awards in 1947, with 10 Oscars, 3 special awards and 27 nominations. The country’s initial victory came with Vittorio De Sica’s first major film, 1947’s Shoeshine, and the most recent was for Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful in 1999.
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