The U.K. has given itself arguably the best chance of landing its first-ever Oscar for best international feature film, having selected The Zone of Interest as its submission.
Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust drama, which was one of the buzziest titles in Cannes where it won the Grand Prix and FIPRESCI prize, has been chosen by BAFTA to represent the U.K. in the category formerly known as best foreign language film.
Shot on location in Poland and featuring German and Polish dialogue, the film — a chilling contemplation on the banality of evil and based on the novel by Martin Amis — follows the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, as they strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.
Written and directed by Jonathan Glazer and his first film in 10 years, The Zone of Interest stars Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, with a score by Mica Levi, cinematography by Łukasz Żal, production design by Chris Oddy, costume design by Małgorzata Karpiuk, editing by Paul Watts, and sound design by Johnnie Burn. The film is produced by James Wilson and Ewa Puszczyńska, executive producers are Reno Antoniades, Len Blavatnik, Danny Cohen, Tessa Ross, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, David Kimbangi and was co-financed by A24, Film4, Access Entertainment and Polish Film Institute. A24 will release the film in the US on Dec. 8.
In his Cannes review, The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney described The Zone of Interest as a “stone cold stunner” and a “devastating Holocaust drama like no other” adding that the film “demonstrates with startling effectiveness [Glazer’s] unerring control of tonal and visual storytelling.”
Despite having one of the world’s most active film industries and being ever-present in most Oscar categories, the U.K. — understandably — has a poor track record in the international feature section, with most British features not eligible due to them being produced in English. Across 19 submissions, it has landed only two nominations, the Welsh language films Hedd Wynn in 1993 and Solomon and Gaenor in 1999. Many will likely be highly shocked if The Zone of Interest doesn’t become the third.