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Anti-war film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ tops BAFTA nominations

“All Quiet on the Western Front” on Thursday tied as the most-nominated foreign language film in British cinema history, receiving 14 nods for glory at the upcoming BAFTA awards.

German director Edward Berger’s anti-war movie ties with Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, which won the same number of nominations in 2001.

Elsewhere this year, dark comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin” and science-fiction comedy-drama “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, both received 10 nominations, as voted for by BAFTA members.

“Elvis”, Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, received nine nominations, with classical music psychological drama “Tar” in line for five awards.

The awards ceremony, the highlight of the annual British film calendar and often seen as a forerunner to the Oscars in March, takes place in London on February 19.

BAFTA chairman Krishnendu Majumdar said the shortlist demonstrated “what an amazing range of work is being made at the moment, we’ve rewarded big blockbuster movies like ‘Elvis’ to intense kind of auteur-driven movies like ‘Tar'”.

He hopes that the success of “Top Gun 2” and “Elvis” heralds a revival of cinema following lockdown.

“It’s crucial that people go to the cinema, it’s part of our culture,” he told AFP. 

“It’s amazing to go to the cinema or sit in a darkened room, the lights go down and it’s a communal experience to see film projected on a screen. 

“It really fires the imagination and hopes and dreams.”

“Avengers: Endgame” actress Hayley Atwell, who co-announced the shortlist, praised the “variety in genre… and size of film, that we’re seeing in the nominations this year. 

“It shows that there is the audience, and they’re diverse in what they want. And so there is room for lots of different kinds of storytelling,” she told AFP.

– Relevant message –

“All Quiet on the Western Front”, about the experiences of a teenage German soldier during World War I, is based on the 1929 book by Erich Maria Remarque.

It is one of the most influential examples of anti-militaristic literature ever written, translated into over 60 languages and selling more than 50 million copies worldwide.

Just one year after it came out, a US film adaptation by Lewis Milestone was released, going on to win best picture and best director Oscars.

But its subversive message saw the work banned in Germany and targeted in the 1933 book burnings by the Nazis, who accused it of “betraying soldiers”.

BAFTA CEO Jane Millichip said the central message of the film still resonated today.

“It’s a really interesting choice to make now, but I think that anti-war perspective is relevant in all times,” she told AFP.

Filmmaker Berger told AFP last September: “My film stands out from American or British (war) films made from the point of view of the victors.”

“In Germany, there is always this feeling of shame, mourning and guilt (surrounding war). It was important for me to present this perspective.”

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