South Africa woos Oscar with ‘Beauty’

Hermanus' pic vies for foreign language consideration

JOHANNESBURG — Oliver Hermanus’ “Skoonheid” (Beauty) is South Africa’s selection for a nomination in the foreign-language Oscar race.

Pic was chosen by the South African Academy Awards selection committee.

“Skoonheid” follows the frustrated desires of a closeted family man, confined by his marriage and the conservative mores of Afrikaner society.

Hermanus says he was inspired to make the film because of “a curiosity in telling a story in a space that I was very unfamiliar with.”

Pic is the sophomore outing for 27-year-old Hermanus, who was mentored by Roland Emmerich, after his 2009 debut, “Shirley Adams.”

“Skoonheid” became the first Afrikaans-language film to screen at Cannes earlier this year, winning the Queer Palm in the Un Certain Regard competition. It grabbed American distribution at the Toronto film fest with TLA Releasing.

“It is a compelling, assured piece of work by a confident director with a distinctive vision and point of view,” said selection committee spokesman Peter Goldsmid, who said the group’s decision was unanimous.

“Skoonheid” was the first film to benefit from last year’s co-production treaty between South Africa and France. It was produced by Equation in association with Moonlighting Films.

The deadline for all countries to send in their submissions is Saturday. The 84th Academy Awards will be held Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

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