Why We Care:
The Somalian-Finnish director of ‘Gravediggers Wife’ Khadar Ayderus Ahmed is among the driving voices for this change. From his view, the film’s nearly universal appeal across the globe is a good thing, proving that filming in Africa is a viable investment and a “tangible way to bridge divides between people and to engage with different cultures” (Amen). So - when the film wasn’t shortlisted for Best International Picture, there were two main thoughts percolating. The first? There still doesn’t seem to be a desire to elevate African stories in the Academy. The second: we all know the Oscars aren’t inclusive, especially for “foreign” cinema, so why should we care what the voters think? For Ahmed, his dream was the FESPACO Award - which he still pinches himself over.
The pushback against the Best International Picture category is happening within the U.S. as well, with critics decrying the category all together, noting that the films, regardless of origin, are “already among the most vibrant, electric and moving films of the year.” But even after crossover wins from 'Parasite,' ‘Flee’ and ‘Drive My Car,' the “centrality of their ‘foreignness’ remains.”
All the more reason to look to the untrodden, underfunded and underrepresented Global South filmmakers for quality storytelling. It breaks us all out of the outdated categorizations imposed by the West and encourages cross-cultural understanding and inspiration. We wield the potential to change how all of us view our shared histories.
Speaking of Oscar history….‘Bantú Mama,’ directed by Soleil Short Film Saturdays and Spotlight podcast alum Ivan Herrera, was selected by the Dominican Republic for its Best International Picture submission. Cheers to the team!Show less...