The Oscars: Austrian Charm, Almost Convincing – The Foreign Film Nominee Symposium

27 02 2009

MP1_8084.NEFPhoto: Götz Spielmann at the Academy Awards. Photo Credit: Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Saturday Morning, Feb. 21, Beverly Hills

It was a cloudy Saturday, Feb. 21, when cineastes got a glimpse of the five films that were nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the 81st Annual Academy Awards. The legendary Samuel Goldwyn Theater at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, used by the Academy for the Oscar nominations each year, was host to the traditional Foreign Language Film Nominees Symposium, held for the 31st time.

There were 65 submitted this time, and Austria’s submission, Götz Spielmann’s Revanche, was short listed, along with entries from Germany (Baader-Meinhof-Complex), France (The Class), Japan (Departure) and Israel (Waltz with Bashir).

From the outside, the theater looks like any other office building with its darkened glass façade, but the gowned and tuxedoed crowd passing through the security checks was clearly not on its way to work.

The red-carpet winds its way upstairs, past two Italian-made and beautifully crafted Bisazza mosaic Oscar statues, reflected in the mirrored wall, softening the otherwise sterile atmosphere. Upstairs, posters of movie legends are a reminder of the hay-days of Hollywood film-making. Finally, I enter the theater and take an unreserved seat in the middle.

Admission is free for any of the symposia, but registration is required on the Academy website, and events are quickly sold out.

The Foreign Film nominations are of particular interest, even in provincial Hollywood: these directors are exotic and bring a range of new experiences and projects. Along with it comes the huge international media interest.

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The Oscars: The Day Before the Ceremony

25 02 2009
Photos: Matthias Wurz

Kodak Theatre, Hollywood

For those that would want to absorb the atmosphere immediately before the spectacular Oscars Award Ceremony, a visit to the Kodak Theatre is a must. Together with the Chinese Theatre, it is located at the Hollywood & Highland Center at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.

Throughout the year, guided tours are offered through this spectacular venue, but, of course, not today, a day before all film stars, film directors and celebrities take the stage to collect the prestigious awards.

The first thing one notice when approaching the area is the traffic diversion, as the Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding blocks are closed for the famous red carpet, protected by a long tent-like corridor. This is where the crowds outside try to catch a glimpse of the Angelina Jolie’s, Brad Pitt’s and many other celebrities, admiring their outfit when exiting the limousines. ABC Television also conducts some of its interviews here.

The foot passenger, however, are diverted through the theater and shopping complex corridors, which lead to the circular foyer of the entrance to the Kodak Theatre. If one follows the diversion around on the First Level, one passes the famous steps to the left, before disappearing in the grey narrow corridors, which exits close to the entrance of the Chinese Theatre.

One can get a glimpse at the entrance, decorated with a huge golden-colored Oscar figure, but as the footpath is narrow here, security staff ensures that those who take their pictures do not block the moving crowds.

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