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Oscars 2013: Travel with This Year’s Best Foreign Films

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This year marks the 85th  annual Academy Awards. Since 1956, countries all over the world have been able to compete for the title of Best Foreign Language Film.

Each country is only allowed one entry in order to even the playing field for smaller countries or those with less developed film industries. Out of the 71 submissions, just five films are chosen.

Darra Stone takes a look at this year’s nominees, the submitting countries’ past contributions to film, and the places travelers can go to interact with film history.

1. Amour in Austria

Austria’s entry Amour directed by Michael Haneke depicts the tested love of two retired musicians. Before landing a coveted spot on the Oscar nomination list, Amour screened at the acclaimed Cannes International Film Festival.

Austria’s film industry’s past is notable for its avant-garde films. It has been a world leader for decades in the art of experimental film.

Besides its influences on experimental film, Austria also is the backdrop for internationally recognized films like The Sound of Music. Almost all of the exterior footage for the film was shot on location in Austria. Film buffs and travelers may visit the famed featured convent of Maria’s abbey in Nonnberg Gasse.

2. Kon-Tiki Breaks out of Norway

Kon-Tiki, directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, is Norwegian historical fiction that follows the legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal on an epic 4,300 miles crossing of the Pacific on a wooden raft.

Norway’s small but budding film industry produces 15 to 20 feature films every year. One reason for their current low feature-film production is the lack of tax incentives for foreign filmmakers.

For more film travel in Norway, check out Dead Snow, an internationally popular horror comedy. Most of the film was shot in Finnmark, Norway. Don’t worry about battling the undead if you visit. Travelers to Finnmark instead enjoy outdoor activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling.

3. No Get Political in Chile

No, directed by Pablo Larrain, Chile’s entry for the Academy Awards, is based on the true story of the Chilean publicity campaign that helped oust Gen. Augusto Pinochet after 16 years of dictatorship. This is Chile’s first nomination for the Academy Awards.

In 2004 Chile nominated the film Manchuca, it did not receive a place on the Academy Award Nomination list but helped pave the way for No.  This film also chronicles the coup that ousted Pinochet, but from the eyes of a young boy.

Travelers can get their own view of Chile by renting a motorcycle to ride in Santiago.

4. Denmark’s Royal Affair

Denmark’s entry,  A Royal Affair directed by Nikolaj Arcel, takes place in 18th century Denmark during the reign of the mentally ill King Christian VII and follows the love affair of the queen and the royal physician. Before landing on this year’s Oscar list, A Royal Affair was nominated at the Golden Globe Awards.

Other critically acclaimed films from Denmark include the 2000 film Dancer in the Dark starring Bjork which premiered at Cannes International Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

Visitors to Denmark may visit the Filmbyen, Avedore in Sjaelland, Denmark, otherwise known as the Hollywood of Denmark, just south of Copenhagen.

Canada and the Congo Introduce War Witch

War Witch directed by Kim Nguyen, Canada’s entry for best foreign film, was filmed primarily on location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Following the harrowing story of a young girl that escapes from a life as a child soldier, this film depicts the harsh reality many children in the Congo face.

Many American films are shot in Canada every year because of the tax incentives. Although this is a boost for the Canadian economy, it sometimes creates difficulty for true Canadian films to stand out.

One Canadian film that broke that barrier in recent history was Sarah Polley’s Away From Her in 2006. The film garnered her a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Partially shot on location in Hamilton, Canada, travelers may enjoy the hundred and twenty six waterfalls in the area.

For more film inspired travel, check out:

By Darra Stone with