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A Live Symposium Bringing Together Five Nominated Films (and Filmmakers) From Around the World

On Sunday, January 8, 2023, the American Cinematheque held a live symposium presenting the five Golden Globe-nominated films for the category of Best Non-English Language Film at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Filmmakers Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave) and S.S. Rajamouli (RRR) attended in person. Edward BergerAll Quiet on the Western Front), Lukas Dhont (Close), and Santiago Mitre (Argentina, 1985) joined via Zoom. 
President Helen Hoehne took the stage and welcomed a warm and enthusiastic audience, thanking the American Cinematheque for their continued support and collaboration with the HFPA. Jim Hemphill hosted the panel with the directors of the nominated films, covering a variety of topics on the art of filmmaking, the writing process, each film’s originality, and much more. One could feel the audience being engaged and captivated especially when the host asked each director about their casting process.  
S.S. Rajamouli shared that casting was critically important for him. “My two actors are very well known and experts at doing their own stunts,” he said. “I brought them onboard together and wanted them to do all rehearsals together. I asked to see a lot of expression through their eyes, to show the pain inside their soul.  I also had a lot of action sequences so we needed to do a lot of rehearsals.”
For Santiago Mitre, it was of great importance to create the right environment.  He explained, “I care about creating a wonderful atmosphere on set. I try to spend a lot of time with my actors to make deep connections, and to share how we each think about life. It is very important for me to build such chemistry with my actors. I even like to share with them that I may be insecure at moments and will need their input. I want to be very close with them and know them really well so that I can create the perfect environment. This is the most important core for me.”
Lukas Dhont made the audience gasp when he shared a story about his casting process. “I visited many primary elementary schools trying to find young talent and scouted about 580 boys. Then something extraordinary happened and I am not sure whether to call it a coincidence or simply destiny. But one day, I was seated on a train and saw this young angel talking to his friends and his expressive face captured my attention. I thought to myself, this may be my person. However, I was debating whether to go up to him for I didn’t want to come over creepy to this 12-year-old boy and his friend. But I didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so I went over and carefully asked if he wanted to audition and he shouted “Yes!” throughout the train.” 
Director Berger explained his collaborative process. “My task is to create the right atmosphere on set. I almost like to set a stage, a stage where mistakes are allowed, where my actors feel confident, and a stage where there is space for them to screw up.  For me, casting is also key. I went through 500 actors before I saw a photo of Felix where he looked really frail. His sensitivity captivated me. I met with him about five times for Felix had never been in front of the camera, so he was very innocent. He came from the theatre and so he was afraid of not acting a role from A to Z, so he made an excel sheet and wrote on it three values to his emotions. One was a pulse, the second was his character’s wish to survive, and the third was his character’s urge to kill. He would look at that sheet to see in what range or where he had to be as an actor in all the different scenes that were shot so that he could create continuity and an arc.” 
Filmmaker Park Chan-wook made the audience laugh when he shared that his first two films were complete box office failures. He explained how he changed his preparation. “I got advised to focus on doing storyboards. I got told over and over, this is how they do it in Hollywood, so I am really focused on it and like the process. Even if I have a scene with just two people sitting together, I storyboard every single detail of that scene and I share my storyboard with every crew member and the entire production team working on the film. I wanted each and everyone to know what I was envisioning. I really enjoy the benefits of doing this, so when I get to the set I don’t need to talk about where I want the camera to be positioned. Of course, I still have to communicate a little bit, but most of the work is done before, so I can only focus on my actor.”
Who will end up taking the Golden Globe home will be revealed on Tuesday, January 10, 2022.  But all five nominated talented directors are among the best in the world and any of these five films could win.