The Oscars are exactly one month away, and with Hollywood’s biggest night just around the corner, it’s time for film aficionados to get caught up on the buzziest of the nominated titles. The Best Foreign Language Film category is often the trickiest to tackle — but not in Miami. We have a booming Festival and art house life here in the Magic City, making it a cinch to see the best of foreign cinema before the 88th Annual Academy Awards.
Last year’s Best Foreign Language Film nominees included Argentine hit Wild Tales, Miami International Film Festival’s 2015 Opening Night selection, as well as MDC’s Tower Theater favorites Ida (which went on to win the award) and Timbuktu. And this year is looking like there’s yet another opportunity for a Festival or MDC’s Tower Theater release to win the big prize. Read on for a recap of 4 out of the 5 Foreign Language film nominees and details on where to see them before the winner is announced on Sunday, February 28th.
SON OF SAUL (Hungary)
Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial.
Winner of the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Son of Saul is now playing exclusively at MDC’s Tower Theater for the next three weeks. Tickets and showtimes: http://bit.ly/saulmiami
When Hussein leaves the tribe to escort a visiting British solider on a treacherous journey to a far-away desert wellspring, his younger brother Theeb secretly tags along on his trusty burro. But when the party hits a crossroads, Theeb must find the resources within himself to become a true “wolf”, and learn to run with a much larger pack, as the rumblings of the Great Arab Revolt begin.
Theeb played at the 2015 Miami International Film Festival where it went on to win the prestigious Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award. It is now available for rent on iTunes.
Early summer in a village in Northern Turkey. Five free-spirited teenaged sisters splash about on the beach with their male classmates. Though their games are merely innocent fun, a neighbor passes by and reports what she considers to be illicit behavior to the girls’ family. The family overreacts, removing all “instruments of corruption,” like cell phones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation for them to become brides. As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate.
Mustang is just wrapping up its run at MDC’s Tower Theater. Catch the very last Miami showtime on Wednesday, February 3rd. Tickets and showtimes: http://bit.ly/towermustang
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (Colombia)
In the Colombian Amazon in 1909, the Dutch botanist Theodor von Martins encounters the deeply mistrustful young shaman Karamakate, who has been separated by European imperialists from his recently decimated tribe. Deathly ill, von Martins must convince Karamakate to help him find the mystical healing plant yakruna, which he does by promising to lead Karamakate to a reunion with his elders.
Embrace of the Serpent was the winner of the top award at this year’s Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, and played at Miami International Film Festival’s fall festival GEMS back in October. It will open at the Miami Beach Cinematheque on March 11th and at MDC’s Tower Theater on March 14th.