Britain has perhaps given itself the best chance of landing its first-ever Oscar for best international feature film The zone of interest as his submission.
Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust drama, one of the most talked-about titles at Cannes, where it won the Grand Prix and the FIPRESCI Prize, has been chosen by BAFTA to represent Britain in the category previously known as Best Film in a foreign language.
Shot on location in Poland and featuring German and Polish dialogue, the film follows Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig as they strive to underline the banality of evil. build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.
Written and directed by Jonathan Glazer and his first film in 10 years, The zone of interest stars Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, with a score by Mica Levi, cinematography by Łukasz Żal, production design by Chris Oddy, costume design by Małgorzata Karpiuk, editing by Paul Watts and sound design by Johnnie Burn. The film was produced by James Wilson and Ewa Puszczyńska, executive producers are Reno Antoniades, Len Blavatnik, Danny Cohen, Tessa Ross, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, David Kimbangi and was co-financed by A24, Film4, Access Entertainment and Polish Film Institute. A24 will release the film in the US on December 8.
In his Cannes review says The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney described The zone of interest as a “stone-cold stunner” and a “devastating Holocaust drama like no other,” adding that the film “demonstrates with surprising effectiveness (Glazer’s) unerring control over tonal and visual storytelling.”
Despite having one of the most active film industries in the world and an ever-present presence in most Oscar categories, Britain has – understandably – a poor track record in international feature films, with most British features ineligible because they are produced in English. Only two nominations were made from 19 entries: the films in Welsh Hedd Wynn in 1993 and Solomon and Gaenor in 1999. Many will probably be very shocked if The zone of interest will not be the third.