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Culture

Dollars Drive the Silver Screen

This Sunday most television viewers will be glued to the box watching the stars glitter on the silver screen. The question is: how many people with funny accents have a serious chance of winning?

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"The Gold Knight returns..." - the traditional Oscar statuette is a superhero in the new official poster

European movie talent, whether as actors, directors, set and costume designers, music writers or producers is more than ever dependent on American dollars.

It makes little sense to talk about the German, British or French film industries as self-contained entities anymore.

Instead the film-making process has become part of an international set of relationships. Without a global distribution company run out of any European country, movies with budgets of any size rely on relationships with the major US studios.

But with Lord of the Rings, Gosford Park and A Beautiful Mind all set to send a few stars up to the podium, this could be one of those rare years when you hear as many - if not more - non-American accents as American ones.

There is only one German nominee in the category "short film". Johannes Kiefer’s eleven minute piece "Gregor’s Greatest Invention" won the International Short Film Award in Los Angeles last year.

In short: Gregor's grandmother faces life in an old folks home unless he can come up with an invention to compensate for her weakening legs.

The French are in the race with Amelie, which is up for five Oscars, including best foreign film and best original screenplay.

The movie, which has been seen by at least eight million people in France and millions more around the world, was berated by some French critics for being too cosily nostalgic.

But the whimsical romance won best film and best director honours on Saturday at the Cesar Awards.

According to "Ultimate Guide to the Oscars" author Tom O'Neil, there are "quite a few people with funny accents who have a serious chance of winning."

Yet most look destined to end up, as they often have, as bridesmaids rather than brides.

The Europeans will continue to make films, even if they do not control the whole process. For economic nationalists, it may not feel so nice but they should get over it.

Whoever wins, the mugshots of the contenders are sure to be priceless. The ceremony will be televised around the world from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on March 24.