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Culture

World War II drama is France's official Oscar entry

media Mélanie Thierry plays French writer Marguerite Duras in Emmanuel Finkiel's Memoir of War Les Films du Losange

France's official entry for the 2019 Oscars is Memoir of War, a drama based on writer Marguerite Duras' memoirs of her husband's return from Nazi concentration camps. The film, directed by Emmanuel Finkiel, stars Mélanie Thierry as Duras.

France's national film board (CNC) announced on Saturday that Memoir of War (original title La Douleur) by filmmaker Emmanuel Finkiel would be the country's official 2019 Oscar entry to the Best Foreign Film category.

The film is based on a posthumous work by French writer Marguerite Duras, where she tells of husband Robert Antelme's return from Nazi concentration camps.

Antelme was arrested on 1 June 1944, imprisoned at Compiègne then deported to the Buchenwald and Dachau camps in Nazi Germany.

Duras waited in despair for Antelme to come back, and when he finally did, Duras discovered "thirty-eight kilos on a 5 foot-8 inch-body", with "a haggard yet sublime face" protruding out of a bag of bones.

In Memoir of War, the title roles are played by Mélanie Thierry and Benoît Magimel. The film was sold internationally by TF1 Studio, and distributed in the USA by Music Box Films.

French director Emmanuel Finkiel. ©Yohan BONNET/AFP

Second concentration-camp-themed success for Finkiel

56 year-old Emmanuel Finkiel has worked with French legend Jean-Luc Godard and Poland's Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Finkiel rose to fame with his first film Voyages which was screened at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and won 7 international awards.

Subsequent films Promised Land (2008) and I am not a Bastard (2015) were well recieved at international festivals

But it is with Memoir of War that Finkiel's career looks at a possible Hollywood opening.

After Voyages, this is Finkiel's second film where the plot is haunted by memories of concentration camps.

The director admitted that "several passages [of Duras's text] were unfilmable, unnameable."

 

France at the Oscars

France has been represented in more than 70 Oscar ceremonies.

French actor Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the The Artist, French-produced silent film in 2012. REUTERS

Michel Hazanavicius' silent film The Artist is the French film that received the most nominations, going on to win Oscar for Best Film in 2012

The Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars is the only category where countries submit one official entry, from which Academy voters choose the nominees.

The nominees for the 91st Annual Academy Awards will be announced on January 22 next year, with the ceremony scheduled for February 24.

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