Germany has selected Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Venice-premiere title “Never Look Away” as its entry for best foreign language film at this year’s 91st Academy Awards. German Films, the local body for the promotion of German cinema worldwide, announced the choice Thursday.
It is the second time the director has had a film chosen as German’s Oscar submission following his Oscar-winning 2006 film “The Lives of Others.” “Never Look Away” has its world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 4 and will see its North American premiere in the special presentations section of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival on Sept. 8.
“My actors, producers and I asked ourselves in the making of ‘Never Look Away’: What movie would we like to see on the screen? The result is a love story, a family drama, a biography of Germany in the 20th century, and a stroll through modern art,” said von Donnersmarck. “The fact that the independent jury has now selected ‘Never Look Away’ to represent our country in the ‘Olympic Games’ in Hollywood of course makes our whole team, our distributors, commissioning editors, funders, and myself very happy.”
The film was chosen from 11 short-listed candidates by the nine members of the German selection committee. German Films organizes the selection procedure for the German candidate for the Oscars’ best foreign-language film category each year but the umbrella organization is not itself represented in the selection committee.
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It beat out competition from Emily Atef’s “3 Days in Quiberon”; Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig’s “Balloon”; Robert Schwentke’s “The Captain”; Thomas Stuber’s “In the Aisles”; Claus Rafle’s “The Invisibles”; Joachim A. Lang’s “Mack the Knife – Brecht’s Threepenny Film”; Markus Goller’s “My Brother Simple”; Lars Kraume’s “The Silent Revolution”; Ali Soozandeh’s animated “Tehran Taboo”; and Christian Petzold’s “Transit.”
Based on real-life events, “Never Look Away” tells the story of an art student (Tom Schilling) who falls in love with a fellow student (Paula Beer), but her father (Sebastian Koch), a celebrated medical professor, sees everything he hates and despises in this potential future son-in-law and does everything he can to destroy the relationship. But none of them know their fates are already intertwined through a horrible crime committed by the father many years earlier.
The film is produced by Pergamon Film and Wiedemann & Berg Film in cooperation with Sky Germany and ARTE. Jan Mojto, Quirin Berg, Florian von Donnersmarck, Max Wiedemann and Christiane Henckel von Donnersmarck serve as producers on the film, with Dirk Schürhoff and Christine Strobl co-producing for Beta Cinema and ARD Degeto/BR, respectively. Funding came from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, the German Federal Film Board, the German Federal Film Fund, and the Czech Film Fund.
The film has already sold in over 60 territories through sales agent Beta Cinema, which is also a co-producer. Sony Pictures Classics has U.S. rights.
Germany has been nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar 10 times since its reunification in 1990, winning the award twice: for Caroline Link’s “Nowhere in Africa” in 2002 and von Donnersmarck’s “The Lives of Others” in 2006. The country scored its most recent nomination with Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” in 2016 which lost out to Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman” from Iran.
Prior to 1990 submissions were made by West Germany, which received 13 nominations winning in 1979 with Volker Schlondorff’s “The Tin Drum,” and East Germany, which received one nomination.
Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22, 2019. The ceremony will take place Feb. 24, 2019.