Switzerland stars at the Oscars

January 24, 2017, 1 Comment

Swiss nominations at the Oscars don’t come along very often, and winners even less so (scroll down to the bottom for more on that). But this year Switzerland has grabbed two Oscar nominations, and neither in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, although both films are originally in French.

My Life as a Zucchini pops up in the category of Best Animated Feature Film. Presumably because an English-language version will be released next month, it doesn’t have to be classed only as a Foreign Language film. Directed by Claude Barras and produced by Max Karli, it’s the charming story of a young boy who finds friends, and maybe love, at an orphanage.

Definitely still in French is La femme et le TGV, nominated in the category of Best Short Film (Live Action). It’s based on a true story and stars Jane Birkin as a woman who develops an unusual relationship with the condutor of the TGV train that passes her house every day. It’s directed by Timo von Gunten and produced by Giacun Caduff.

Let’s hope they can add to list of Swiss winners at the Oscars. Two Swiss films have won Best Foreign Language film while three Swiss winners have been in the Best Documentary category and two in Best Writing. More well-known are acting Oscars for half-Swiss stars Maximilian Schell (for Judgement at Nuremberg in 1962) and Renée Zellweger (for Cold Mountain in 2004). Not forgetting H R Giger’s award for Visual Effects, for Alien in 1980.

And then there’s Arthur Cohn, the Basel-born film director whose films have won a total of six Oscars. It will be along time before any other Swiss can catch up with him on that score.

One last piece of trivia for you: the first ever Best Actor Oscar was won in 1929 by Emil Jannings, an actor best-known for his later film with Marlene Dietrich, The Blue Angel. He was German but was actually born in Rorschach in Canton St Gallen, so could almost be claimed as a Swiss winner.

Previous Swiss winners:

Best Writing, Original Screenplay
1945   Marie-Louise, Richard Schweizer

Best Writing, Motion Picture Story
1948   The Search, Richard Schweizer & David Wechsler

Best Documentary
1962   Le ciel et la Boue, Arthur Cohn*
1991   American Dream, Arthur Cohn*
2000   One Day in September, Arthur Cohn*

Best Visual Effects
1980   Alien, H R Giger

Best Foreign Language Film
1984   Dangerous Moves (La diagonale du fou)
1990   Journey of Hope (Reise der Hoffnung)

*Arthur Cohn has won a total of six Oscars, as he was the producer of three films that won the Best Foreign Language Film: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Italy, 1972), Black and White in Color (Ivory Coast, 1977), Dangerous Moves (Switzerland, 1984)

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