Belgium back in Hollywood with Bullhead
24/01/2012 - Michaël R. Roskam’s debut feature Bullhead [trailer, film focus] is officially in the Oscar race! The last Belgian film to have been in the running for an Oscar was Dominique Deruddere’s Everybody’s Famous in 2001. The previous Belgian films nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category were Farinelli (1995), Daens (1993), The Music Teacher (1989) and Peace in the Fields (1971). Last year, the Belgian short film Na Weve competed in the big league, as did Tanghi Argentini in 2007. To this day, no majority Belgian film has taken home the golden statuette for Best Foreign Language Film.
This Oscar nomination brings to a close a long-distance campaign skilfully orchestrated by the Bullhead team. After a world premiere at Berlin which thrust the film, its young director and, above all, its lead actor Matthias Schoenaerts into the spotlight, the film began a long festival tour, crowned with many awards. Added to this international recognition was local success in Belgium, where no fewer than 460,000 viewers went to see the film.
This selection also brings to an end the minor controversy caused by the choice of film by Belgian professionals to represent their country in the Oscar race. Indeed, some were surprised that The Kid With a Bike [trailer, film focus], which won an award at Cannes, wasn’t picked as Belgium’s legitimate representative. Moreover, the film competed ten days ago at the Golden Globes. It’s as if a sort of “overkill” of the Dardenne brothers, who have been omnipresent on the Belgian cinema scene for 15 years, had worked against them. There is certainly a grain of truth in this suspicion, and The Kid With a Bike is one of the major films of the past year, but the selection of Bullhead puts the film in its place, not that of an alternative, but that of a brilliant film, which has managed to win over many audiences.
Bullhead will have to beat off some tough competition on February 26, for it will be up against Iranian film A Separation (Golden Globe winner), Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar, Israeli film Footnote, and finally, Agnieszka Holland’s Polish film In Darkness.