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“Cinema of Globalization”

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Every year, the Oscar category for Best Foreign Language Film pits nations against each other, but this year’s five nominees — winnowed down from 65 entries — aren’t exactly born of the distinct national film traditions we’ve grown accustomed to.

Take this year’s Oscar-nominated film Incendies, by Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. It’s about two siblings who journey across the world, to the sun-drenched valleys of the Middle East, to find where they came from.

Shot in Canada and Jordan, Incendies is mostly in Arabic. Villeneuve says his film doesn’t exactly follow in the tradition of Quebecois cinema.

“We are a small society. We struggle, a few French people among a sea of English people,” he says. “So very often our movies are about our French identity, culture.”

But the way Villeneuve’s story stretches across borders and plays with geographic ambiguity is a theme that’s echoed in many of the nominees for this year’s foreign language Oscar.


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