Oscar 1985: Foreign-Language Films

The Best Foreign-Language Picture category is particularly vulnerable to political pressures. Four of the five nominees of the 1985 Best Foreign-Language Picture were political works with strong ideological messages. The winner, the Argentinean The Official Story, is a disturbing emotional drama about an uppermiddle class history teacher (played by Norma Aleandro), who suspects that her adopted daughter is a child of one of the desaparecidos, the Argentineans abducted during the junta's counterinsurgency. In his speech, the film's producer Luis Perenzo said: “On another March 24, 10 years ago, we suffered the last military coup in my country. We will never forget this nightmare, but we are certain now to begin with our new dreams.”

“The Official Story” competed against the Yugoslavian entry, “When Father Was Away on Business,” a family tale set in Sarajevo in the 1950s, when the country was torn between Marshal Tito's policies and the Stalinist Soviet Union.

The other nominees were the Hungarian film, “Colonel Redl,” about Alfred Redl, the powerful intelligence officer of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who, according to the movie, when threatened by the Russians with public revelation of his homosexuality, agreed to become their agent, then committed suicide.

“Angry Harvest” was a psychological World War II drama about the relationship between a Jewish woman escaping the Nazis and a devout Polish farmer.

The French comedy “Three Men and a Cradle,” the fifth contender, dealt with the changing definitions of gender, particularly of traditional male roles.