Foreign-language film entries have a tendency to get a short-thrift in the United States. All but gone are the days of even not too long ago when titles such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Amélie or Pan’s Labyrinth enjoyed a massive critical acclaim and a substantial theatrical run in the states. Even as recent imports like Amour and A Separation enjoyed success at the Academy Awards, only a modicum of interest followed them outside the art house. It’s this mindset that makes a company like Sony Pictures Classics, the boutique specialty division of Sony Pictures, all the more interesting, as they regularly court and release foreign language titles for American audiences. Their most recent acquisition is The Notebook, Hungary’s official 2013 submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, recently shortlisted as one of the nine titles to vie for the award.
The film, directed by János Szász, tells the story of teenage twin boys who have been abandoned by their parents at the beginning stages of World War II and forced to leave with their hostile grandmother. The film was shot by Oscar-nominated director of photography Christian Berger (The White Ribbon) and on premise alone may well be worthy of serious Oscar consideration when nominations are announced on January 16th. As described by Sony Pictures Classics top executives Tom Barnard and Michael Barker, “We have never really seen a movie quite like this. Based on a famous European novel, The Notebook portrays the World War II experience as a Grimm fairy tale brimming with darkness and foreboding evil. It is fresh, brilliantly told by director Janos Szasz with stunning cinematography by the great Christian Berger.”
As of yet, it doesn’t appear that The Notebook has mapped out a release date in the United States, but it is worthy noting that the last four winners of the Best Foreign Language Academy Award have been released by Sony Classic in the U.S.- Amour, A Separation, In a Better World and The Secret in Their Eyes.