Two foreign-language Oscar nominees have Indian links

Jan 23, 2007 DPA


Los Angeles, Jan 23 (DPA) Two of the five contenders for the Oscar for best foreign-language film - "Water" and "After The Wedding" - have strong Indian connections.

Here are synopses of the five films that have made the final cut:

"Water" (Canada) - Directed by Deepa Mehta, this Hindi-language film is set in 1930s India during the struggle for independence from Britain. But the quest for political freedom is in harsh contrast to the plight of a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi.

The contrast is heightened when one of the widows tries to escape the suffocating social restrictions placed on her by entering a relationship with a lower-caste follower of Mahatma Gandhi.

"After The Wedding" (Denmark) - Directed by Susanne Bier, the story centres on Jacob Petersen, a Danish expat who has dedicated his life to helping street children in India. He regards all Westerners as selfish and spoilt but agrees to return for a visit to his homeland to meet a potential donor.

His life and destiny change when he attends the wedding of the donor's daughter - with emotionally devastating effects.

"The Lives of Others" (Germany) - Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the movie is a painfully funny observation of the surveillance culture under the former communist regime in East Germany.

Set in the early 1980s, the film focuses on successful dramatist Georg Dreyman and his long-time companion Christa-Maria Sieland, a popular actress, whose private thoughts don't always toe the party line. The fallout comes when the minister of culture falls for Christa and assigns a secret service agent to find out more about her.

"Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico) - A fantasy by Guillermo del Toro set in Spain in 1944 following the Civil War, the movie follows 12-year-old Ofelia, who moves with her pregnant mother and stepfather into a new home in the countryside.

The stepfather is a fascist disciplinarian sent to rid the remote area of Republican militia, but Ofelia escapes from his influence in an immense and ancient labyrinth, where she meets a faun who reveals that she is in fact the long-lost daughter of the king of the Underworld and that she must complete three tasks in order to regain entry to the magical kingdom.

"Days of Glory" (Algeria) relives the forgotten role of 130,000 North African troops who joined the French forces to fight Nazi Germany in World War II.

The story follows three Algerians who enlist to free the "fatherland" and who despite facing discrimination, fight in Italy and Provence before finding themselves alone to defend an Alsatian village against a German battalion.

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