L.A.-based functionaries fete nominated countrymen
Los Angeles, home of the Oscars, is also home to consulates from countries around the world. And come awards season, many of these diplomatic outposts catch their own versions of Oscar fever, hosting lunches, viewing parties and receptions to promote their citizens who are up for statuettes and their films that are vying for prizes.
In most years, those pics compete largely in the foreign-language race. This season, however, France’s “The Artist” is hunting bigger game, up for the best picture award among its 10 Academy nominations.
“France is exhilarated by this recognition,” says Antoine de Cazotte, an exec producer and unit production manager on “The Artist,” who heads producer Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine shingle in the U.S. The team behind the film must feel like it hasn’t had to buy its own lunch much over the past couple of months, and many have significantly advanced their careers. Helmer Michel Hazanavicius, for example, inked with CAA. “Artist” cast members Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, along with Hazanavicius and the producers will be in Paris on Feb. 24 for the Cesar Awards, the Friday before Oscar Sunday. They’re booked to fly to L.A. the next day and, after attending the Oscars, will be guests at the Weinstein Co.’s Oscar afterparty at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood.
There’s plenty of Oscar love at foreign outposts around town for docu contender “Pina” (Germany) and foreign-language nominees “Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada), “Footnote” (Israel), “In Darkness” (Poland) and lead actor nominee Demian Bichir (Mexico).
“Holding events during Oscar week is a wonderful way of recognizing your country’s caliber of talent and shining a light on your nation’s capabilities on the biggest world stage there is,” says Susie Dobson, past president of Australians in Film.
On Feb. 25, Germany will acknowledge helmer Wim Wenders’ feature doc nod for “Pina” with an afternoon bash at the historic Villa Aurora in the Pacific Palisades, home to a German artists-in-residence program. More than 70 German journalists are expected to cover the party, which will also honor Lisy Christl, nommed costume designer for Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous.”
Mexico’s consul general got out ahead of many of the festivities with a recent well-attended screening of “A Better Life” for more than 500 people, with actor nominee Bichir and helmer Chris Weitz in attendance.
Canuck supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer and foreign-language contender “Monsieur Lazhar” will be feted at a lunch sponsored by the Canadian consul on Feb. 23. Two days earlier, the Israeli Consulate is co-sponsoring a screening of Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote” at Sony with the Jewish Federation; hosting a reception for the filmmakers later in the week; and sponsoring an Oscar-viewing party.
An Oscar nod “increases the discussion around the film,” says Cedar, up for his second-foreign language nod (“Beaufort” was his first).
Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness” received the support of the Polish consulate in Los Angeles via a special AFI screening and a planned Oscar night viewing party for 150. “For us, it’s not only a movie, it is part of our history,” says Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, Poland’s consul general L.A. “We consider this film an homage to the victims of Holocaust.”
Despite the nine-hour time difference, Kozinska-Frybes predicts more than a million viewers will tune into the live Oscarcast in Poland, where the film has already generated huge public discussion, she says.
But not all nations with noms are opting for pre-Oscar fanfare. Since there are no diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran, “A Separation,” has had a low-key presence, despite almost universal critical acclaim for the Sony Classics release. Any attempt to reach out to L.A.’s large Iranian expat community would be too politically charged, many feel.