Monday, January 24, 2005

Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Teaching Life

Later today, I'll teach my first session of my newly designed seminar, International Cinema and Global Politics. Especially now that we've got the A/V equipment dilemma worked out for the classroom, I'm really looking forward to this new course. It feels like the right time for me to teach it, and it's my first chance to attempt anything like it. I hope the students are jazzed, and I hope they don't mind doing a lot of work if the rewards (hopefully) involve making them better writers, more globally aware citizens, and better readers of different kinds of movies.

Anyway, as the hilarious and worldly-wise fecundmellow knows, the first day of teaching is always a nerve-rattler, even when you know in your mind that you're well prepared and psyched up for the task. So I'm going to try to get some sleep and be all fresh-faced and high on life for tomorrow afternoon. It doesn't help that we're at T-minus 30 hours for the Oscar noms. How many reasons to be restless do I need in one weekend? It's too bad that, almost invariably, the Academy nominees for Foreign-Language Film won't take any of the political or aesthetic risks of the movies I'm teaching—though, from the group on my syllabus, The Official Story and No Man's Land did manage to win, and Woman in the Dunes, Before the Rain, and Amores perros all swung nominations. So it's not always impossible to get nominated, even if your movie isn't about a race-car driver who falls in love with a pretty lady, or a darling cherub who melts the heart of the world.

If you're curious what the nations of the world are producing these days, even beyond the crossover hits that have made it to your local arthouse, definitely take a quick (or long) tour of Nathaniel R.'s annual and invaluable index of all the movies submitted by their home countries as possible Oscar nominees. (That's how Oscar works in this category: a committee in every nation picks one, and only one, movie is the officially eligible contender.) After Tuesday morning, all but five of these movies will instantly be treated as yesterday's news, and even Oscar's anointed aren't guaranteed of US distribution...but doesn't this list make you wish you could see all of this amazing-sounding work?

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