The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Best Foreign Film: the politics behind it

Mritunjay Sharma expands on the problematic nature of foreign nomination at the Oscars


The Oscars 2017 was filled with a lot of exciting and strange events, but amongst all the glitter, glamour and excitement, there was a film maker who was absent in the Oscars ceremony. This film maker was Asghar Farhadi, who eventually went on to win his second Oscar for the best film in foreign category. His absence was due to President Trump’s ban on six muslim nations entering the USA.

Apart from the politics of outsiders, the ones that are visible to everyone, there is another kind of politics that has devoured the foreign nomination and has made them a matter of opprobrium for a really long time now. The censure of the foreign nominations lies in the Rule 13 section C of the Oscars rules of eligibility. Rule 13 C states that: 1. Each country shall be invited to submit its best motion picture to the academy, 2. Only one picture will be accepted from each country.

These rules place the films in the hand of the censor boards of the respective countries. But these censor boards are unaccountable to anyone, neither the government nor the academy can intervene in the working of these censor boards. The prime victim of these rules is one of the modern masters of film making Jafar Panahi. Panahi has won prestigious awards such as Camera d’Or, Jury Award at Cannes, Golden Leopard at Venice, FIPRESCI and Golden Bear at Berlin and many more, but Panahi would never be nominated for the Oscars because first his films were banned in his country and then he was also banned for 20 years for making films. The censor of any country is deemed to serve the government, over the years it has been seen that there has been no correlation between the art of film making and censors.

Coming back to the Foreign Film nominations of 2017, after Farhadi’s announcement of boycotting the Oscars, a lot of film makers registered their consent of biased behaviour of jury towards Farahadi’s film. They were afraid of the foreign film voters would act against the trump rather than vote solely for the film.

Since the Academy is supposed to be a torch bearer of excellence in film making, it is important for them to sit down for once and revisit the rules and regulations of the foreign nominations. If not, the censor boards would just do whatever they intend to do and not just the film makers but also the audiences will be deprived of the plethora of fine cinema around the world.