It’ll be months yet before we can even contemplate Oscar nominations for domestic films, but September is the time when other countries start pushing one film into contention for the (incredibly reductive) Best Foreign Film category. Austria and Germany have already nominated their films for consideration. That’s no guarantee that either will actually be one of the five on the ballot early next year, but at least one might have a good chance, if controversy doesn’t sink it first.
Austria’s entry is Revanche, a realistic play on the cops and robbers theme populated with unknowns. Germany, meanwhile, has nominated Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, the story of left-wing terrorist group the Red Army Faction, which bombed and assassinated political targets in the ’70s and ’80s. Baader is high-profile awards bait, produced by Downfall’s Bernd Eichinger and starring major Deutch actors Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz, Jan Josef Liefers and Simon Licht, among others.
The subject matter of the latter could be riotous enough, but distributor Constantin Film and PR agency Just Publicity have created a shitstorm in Germany by demanding that critics sign an unusual NDA when screening the film in mid-August. Not only did the document disallow writing about the film, but even speaking about it — to anyone at all — was off limits. Breaking review embargos is typically punishable by anything from nothing at all to being struck from further invite lists, but Constantin and Just went a few steps beyond. They stipulated a 100,000 euro fine, to be split 50/50 by the offending journo and outlet. Did Constantin and Just ever intend to enforce the fine (highly, highly unlikely), was it a cover for a crap film, or were they using it as a ploy for attention? Almost certainly the latter, and it worked.
You can see an eye-catching trailer for Der Baader Meinhof Komplex here. The film opens in Germany next week, so the ‘crap or not’ question should be answered any minute now.