'The Zone of Interest' wins Oscar award for best international film

The harrowing Holocaust drama “ The Zone of Interest,” which explores questions of complicity while depicting the mundane lives of a Nazi family in their home adjacent to the Auschwitz death camp, won the Academy Award for best international film.
The Zone of Interest wins best international film
The Zone of Interest wins best international film

Los Angeles | The harrowing Holocaust drama “ The Zone of Interest,” which explores questions of complicity while depicting the mundane lives of a Nazi family in their home adjacent to the Auschwitz death camp, won the Academy Award for best international film.

Writer-director Jonathan Glazer “has found a way to convey evil without ever depicting the horror itself,” wrote The Associated Press' Jocelyn Noveck in her review. “But though it escapes our eyes, the horror assaults our senses in other, deeper ways.” Sandra Hüller, nominated for best actress for “Anatomy of a Fall,” plays Hedwig, the wife of Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the bloodthirsty commandant of Auschwitz. The film was the United Kingdom's submission to the Oscars.

In the film, the couple and their children go about their daily routines — living in a home just on the other side of a stone wall from the gas chambers. Höss spends his work days overseeing the “processing” of trainloads of people, most sent directly to their deaths. Then he comes home, where he and Hedwig share meals, celebrate birthdays, read their kids bedtime stories and make vacation plans.

Glazer adapted the screenplay loosely from the 2014 Martin Amis novel of the same name, but chose to depict the real-life commandant. Aiming for a chilling meticulousness, the director pieced together the Höss family history and built the set for their home some 200 yards (183 meters) from where the real one once stood.

“The Zone of Interest” is also up for best picture, which made it the favorite to win in the international category. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best director, sound and adapted screenplay.

Last year the winner was “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a German-language film set in World War I.

Also nominated for best international feature were “Society of the Snow” (Spain), “The Teachers' Lounge” (Germany), “Io Capitano” (Italy) and “Perfect Days” (Japan).

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