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Here's What To Know About Each Foreign Language Oscar Nominee

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 25/02/2016 Todd Van Luling
SON OF SAUL FOREIGN LANGUAGE OSCARS OSCARS 2016 ACADEMY AWARDS 2016 © "Son of Saul" SON OF SAUL FOREIGN LANGUAGE OSCARS OSCARS 2016 ACADEMY AWARDS 2016

This Sunday is not just a competition between various multi-millionaires over who can win the most gold. The 2016 Oscars are also about who among your friend group can assert their dominance as the buffest film fan.

You've probably already figured out your obscure trivia fact to hold over your friends about Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and "The Martian" and "Mad Max" and all the other major nominees. But where you can really break through is if you have a deep cut fact for the Foreign Language category. Anyone can conquer America, but don't you want to conquer the world?

Below is one thing to say about each of the 2016 Foreign Language nominees to sound smart, even if you have no intention of ever watching them. (That said, they are particularly great this year, so you totally should).

 

"A War," Denmark

The majority of the Danish troops in the movie are real-life soldiers.

The BBC reported that the soldiers depicted in the film actually served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo.

In the article, lead actor Pilou Asbæk said, "They just gave so much to the film." He continued, "They were incredible and made me feel like an amateur on set every single day."

  

"Embrace of the Serpent," Colombia

Cannibalistic atrocities conducted by a fake messiah in the movie were based off actual events. 

The movie was initially based off diaries from ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grünberg and biologist Richard Evan Schultes, who visited the Amazon a few dozen years apart.

Director Ciro Guerra explained to Vice that a memorable scene involving a cannibalistic jungle Messiah was rooted in an actual account: 

Later in the diaries there appears the story of a mestizo named Niceto. He arrived at the border of Colombia and Brazil, in Yavarate, at the end of the 19th century, and proclaimed that he was the messiah. He had as many as 2,000 followers and did crazy things, demented things, much more so than what's in the film. His group became unstable and the Brazilian army in the end had to remove them by force. It was out of control.

Twenty years later, someone else named Venancio also proclaimed he was the messiah and had hundreds of followers. It all ended in a massive suicide. It's a phenomenon that keeps repeating itself up until today.

 

"Mustang," Turkey

The director became pregnant right before filming. The original producers freaked and backed out of the movie. 

As Huffington Post writer Maddie Crum discovered in an interview with director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, the director based the movie off her own life. So when backers dropped out, the moment was a deeply personal affront.

Somehow, Ergüven -- the only female director honored in non-documentary categories this year -- was able to secure new backing at the last minute and then still filmed the whole movie with a person inside her.

"They took me for dead, literally," Ergüven explained to Vogue of the original production company in a recent interview. "They weren’t answering my calls. They were going to locations and telling people the film is over." 

The director took the blow to heart. She said to Vogue, "I was thinking, 'I’m super sad. I’m pregnant. The first human experience that my child is living in utero is just a terrible situation of treason.' Just a few days later the other producer literally saved my life in an extremely heroic way."

 

"Son of Saul," Hungary

The creators stuck to a seemingly counterintuitive five-point dogma while shooting to make sure the movie was original.

In short, they wanted the movie to look as ugly as the topic: a story set in Auschwitz concentration camp, where a Jewish worker attempts to find a rabbi to give a child he believes to be his son a proper burial.

Director László Nemes explained his vision for shooting the film in an interview with Emanuel Levy.

How did you shoot it? 

The cinematographer, Mátyás Erdély, the production designer, László Rajk and I decided well before the shoot that we would stick to a sort of dogma: “the film cannot look beautiful,” “the film cannot look appealing,” “we cannot make a horror film,” “staying with Saul means not going beyond his own field of vision, hearing, and presence,” “the camera is his companion, it stays with him throughout this hell.”

 

"Theeb," Jordan

The creators filmed in the same location as fellow 2016 Oscar nominee, "The Martian."

The sandstone valley of Wadi Rum serves as the backdrop for both the World War I setting of "Theeb" (a story focused on the titular character, a young Bedouin boy) and yet another expensive rescue mission to save Matt Damon. Much of the amateur cast of "Theeb" actually lives in the area. 

The 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia," which won seven Academy Awards, was also shot in Wadi Rum. 

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