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Five Foreign Language Films Up for Oscar

Farhadi, whose film A Separation won the best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2012

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FILE - Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, Oct. 10. 2016. Farhadi has chosen not to attend the Oscars ceremony.
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United States, 28Feb 2017: Of the five films nominated for the Academy Awards’s Best Foreign Language Film, none has won either a BAFTA in Britain or a Golden Globe in the United States. So the Oscar field is wide open.

South Pacific Romeo and Juliet

The Australian entry, Tanna, tells a Romeo-and-Juliet style story set on a South Pacific Island. The film’s Australian director, Bentley Dean, said he had wanted to go back to Tanna to make a movie ever since he went there more than 10 years ago to make a documentary.

“I had a brief window of opportunity between projects and I convinced my wife to come with me, with my two small children and try and make a film by collaborating with the local community,” Dean said. “We connected with the tribes over there and went and visited and said, ‘What do you think? Do you want to make a film together?’ and they said yes.” he added.

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Danish Retelling of WWII Story

Land of Mine recounts the true story of teenaged German prisoners of war who were made to clear mines from the coasts of Denmark after World War II. Martin Zandvliet, who directed the film, said it caused a lot of soul searching in Denmark.

“It brought out a lot of debate,” Zandvliet said. “The historians came out of their holes so to speak, and it brought out a big debate in the media whether it was right to treat the Germans like this or whether it was facts or whether it was fiction or whether I had fictionalized it too much or whether all these things – that is interesting for a movie.”

Swedish Novel Becomes a Film

Sweden’s A Man Called Ove tells the story of a disagreeable old man who keeps trying to hang himself so that he can be reunited with his late wife. But when a young Iranian woman moves into his neighborhood, his perspective changes.

The film is based on the novel by Fredrik Backman. Actor Rolf Lassgard, who plays Ove, says the novel helped him make choices for the film.

“A book is much larger than a film, you have one hour and 45 minutes but I have shot films from several books and I am not afraid of the book,” he said. “Of course you could feel the pressure but pressure is something good to have on you. I used the book as a tool as an actor because you can find a lot of good stuff that you can use in a shoot,” he said.

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Cannes Winner from Germany

Germany’s Toni Erdmann is a father-daughter comedy that also pokes fun at sexism, greed, and family relationships. The film won the FIPRESCI prize given by critics at the Cannes Film Festival. Director Maren Ade says she has been almost overwhelmed by the film’s success.

“It was a lot of work, the success, but it’s nice and I enjoy that the film is released in so many countries,” Ade said. “It’s really something that you dream of when you do a film. It’s what you do the film for that it has its own second life with the audience. It’s a crazy time and the year’s almost gone now. I don’t know.”

Trump Travel Ban Hits Iranian Oscar Nominee

Iran’s entry is The Salesman from director Asghar Farhadi. It tells the story of an Iranian theater couple whose lives are turned upside down when the wife is attacked in their apartment.

Farhadi, whose film A Separation won the best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2012, will not be attending the Oscars because of the Trump administration’s ban on travel from Iran and six other Muslim majority countries. Though the ban has been temporarily overturned in U.S. courts, the president has announced plans to issue a new order soon.(VOA)

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three years

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three yearsRate of autism in US reduced in the past three years
FILE - Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, in Omaha, Nebraska, May 23, 2014. VOA

Miami, Jan 2, 2018: After more than a decade of steady increase in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

The findings were based on a nationwide study in which more than 30,000 parents reported whether their children had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“The estimated ASD prevalence was 2.41 percent among US children and adolescents in 2014-2016, with no statistically significant increase over the three years,” said the research letter by experts at the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The first observation of a plateau was made by a separate group in 2012, when the rate flattened out to 1.46 percent, according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Federal health authorities say that means about one in 68 children in the United States have the neurodevelopmental disability, whose causes remain poorly understood.

The ADDM had documented a “continuous increase from 0.67 percent in 2000 to 1.47 percent in 2010.”

The 2.4 percent rate described in the JAMA report translates to one in 47 children, but researchers cautioned that the discrepancy may be explained by “differences in study design and participant characteristics.”

The JAMA report, based on the annual National Health Interview Survey, did not delve into “underlying causes for the findings and cannot make conclusions about their medical significance.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a plateau in the autism rate in 2016, but said it was “too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize.” (VOA)