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April 200
3 - Nr. 4


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Nirgendwo in Afrika Takes Foreign Language Oscar

  TWIG - German cinema got a welcome thumbs up from Hollywood Sunday (March 23) as Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa), by Munich screenwriter and director Caroline Link, took the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. "I’m thrilled!" said Link shortly after the announcement was made. "I watched the awards ceremony at home on television and toasted the success, of course." The 38-year-old filmmaker was taking care of her seven-month-old daughter, who was ill, and was therefore unable to attend the festivities in the U.S.

Based on an autobiographical novel of the same title by Frankfurt writer Stefanie Zweig, Nirgendwo in Afrika tells the story of a Jewish family who flees Nazi Germany to start a new life in Kenya. The film’s main characters face a series of personal crises as they struggle to adapt to new circumstances in a foreign land. Critics attribute Link’s success in part to her sensitive adaptation of the story. "Caroline Link does something that is understood internationally," says Alfred Holighaus, a member of the selection committee for the Berlinale film festival. "She understands the emotional language of the cinema."

Now that international success has found her, Link says she will continue to work in Germany but hasn’t ruled out collaborating with filmmakers in the U.S. if the right opportunity comes along. "I want to collect my thoughts now and not let the praise go to my head," said the director at an impromptu press conference Monday. "If a project speaks to me - then OK."

Link is the first German director to win the foreign film Oscar since 1980, when Völker Schlöndorff won the award for his adaptation of the Günter Grass novel The Tin Drum. "Caroline’s Oscar will give the whole German film industry a push," predicts Tin Drum producer Eberhard Junkersdorf. Nirgendwo in Afrika began appearing in select U.S. theaters in early March but is expected to get wider distribution now that it boasts an Academy Award.

Three Oscars, for best director, actor in a leading role and adapted screenplay, went to The Pianist, a French-German-Polish coproduction by Polish-born filmmaker Roman Polanski. The film describes the tragic fate of the Jewish community of Warsaw during the Holocaust and was shot in large part at the Babelsberg film studios near Berlin.


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