German Film Wins Oscar | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 24.03.2003
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German Film Wins Oscar

On Sunday, German director Caroline Link's acclaimed film "Nowhere in Africa" won an Oscar at the 75th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, which remained largely unchanged despite the war in Iraq.


"Nowhere in Africa" documents the lives of a Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution

Like most people, Caroline Link watched the Oscars on her television on Sunday night. Like most people, she would have loved to go, but her daughter was ill. But unlike most people, Link had an invite to the ceremony. And not only that, her latest film , Nowhere in Africa won in the best foreign language movie category.

It was the first time since 1979 that Germany netted the coveted award. This morning, journalists calling the 38-year-old German director's Munich home got her answering machine: "Now we've won that piece of gold after all. We're all unbelievably happy."

A love story spanning two continents, Nowhere in Africa is the extraordinary tale of a Jewish family who flees the Nazi regime in 1938 for a remote farm in Kenya. Abandoning their comfortable life in Germany, each member of the family comes to terms with the harsh realities of life in Africa in their own way, haunted by the atrocities in Nazi Germany.

Caroline Link

The film has won acclaim in particular for its cinematography, which captures breathtaking landscapes of the African bush and local life.

Link says that her aim in film is to "tell a story, that doesn't only entertain, but also touches the soul." The film has now attracted considerable attention abroad, including the U.S., marking a new era in German film, according to producer Peter Hermann.

Fascinated by film

Caroline Link was born in Bad Nauheim in 1964. Her love-affair with film began during an internship at the Bavaria Film Studios. In the following years, Link made various attempts at making films, both as script editor and assistant director. But it was in the role of director, that Link finally saw success: both of her first films -- Summer Days ( Sommertage), and the children's film Kalle the dreamer ( Kalle der Träumer) -- received numerous prizes in Germany.

In 1996, Link achieved her international breakthrough with Beyond Silence ( Jenseits der Stille), which was nominated for the foreign language Oscar, after receiving numerous other prizes, including the Bavarian Film Award and the German Film Award.

Modesty unchanged

Despite her shooting star career, Link (photo) has remained remarkably down to earth: Following the news of Nowhere in Africa's Oscar nomination, the German director said she would "rather stay at home and carry on with her work" than fly to the U.S. for the award ceremony.

"I would probably have some important meetings with important Hollywood people, but I really don't want to be just one in thousands," she told a news agency.

English Translation

Link also wrote the screenplay for Nowhere in Africa, which she adapted from the book of the same name by German author, Stefanie Zweig. Zweig now hopes that the Oscar will lead to an english translation of her autobiographical novel which was a huge success in France and has been translated into Spanish, Hungarian, Czech and Japanese. "Up till now, we haven't had any success in getting the book translated into English, but now, the American publisher might start to take a bit more notice," Zweig told German news agency, AP.

Politics and entertainment

Despite the war in Iraq there was little change to this year's Oscar event. Calls for peace were limited to only two actors, including Chris Cooper and Gael Garcia Bernal and outfits were slightly more subdued.

There was some protest activity outside the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday. Reuters reported a group of around 50 protesters holding signs saying, "One more American for peace" and "Bring U.S. soldiers home" at one main intersection, while at the opposite end of the street, a group of supporters of the U.S.-led attack on Iraq waved American flags.