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Austria has selected Great Freedom, a prison drama starring Franz Rogowski as a gay German repeatedly arrested for “deviant practices” in the decades following World War I, to represent the country for the 2022 Oscars in the best international feature category.
Sebastian Meise’s intense prison drama, which premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar this year, looks at the mostly- forgotten history of Germany’s anti-homosexual laws, laws dating back to 1871 which led to mass persecution and murder of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, but which remained on the books in West Germany after World War II up until the late 1960s.
Rogowski plays Hans, convicted under the notorious anti-gay law Paragraph 175, who, after World War II, is transferred from a concentration camp to serve out the rest of his sentence in a West German prison. Georg Friedrich co-stars as Viktor, an older, homophobic inmate, who initially violently rejects being bunked up with Hans. The film moves in between several post-war periods, illustrating how anti-gay sentiment and the criminalization of homosexuality continued for decades until Paragraph 175 was finally abolished in Germany in 1969.
Tiny Austria has punched above its weight at the Oscars, where the country twice taken the international feature honor, for Stefan Ruzowitzky’s The Counterfeiters in 2007 and Michael Haneke’s Amour in 2012.
The shortlist for the international feature category at the 2022 Oscars will be unveiled on Dec. 21. Nominations will be announced on Feb. 8 and the 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27.
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