The Hollywood Foreign Press Association held its now annual panel with the filmmakers nominated for their Best Foreign Language Film award to be presented tomorrow during the 70th Golden Globes ceremony. The panel, that last year received big names such as Angelina Jolie and Pedro Almodovar, gives the directors a chance to discus their process and experiences while making their nominated films. This year the five nominees are Michael Haneke (Amour), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano (The Intouchables), Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki), and Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone).

This time around only the directors for three of the film were present; curiously it was the same three that have also been nominated for an Academy Award. The symposium took place at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, and it was moderated by Golden Globe winning Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom. The focus of the conversation was the process of the director while working with actors, and how to get the best performances out their cast.


Norwegian directing duo Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning talked about the division of labor they employ to get better results. Kon-Tiki, the most expensive film ever made in Norway, is a heavy in CGI; therefore, the only way to get the footage they needed was for Espen to focus on performance while Joachim commanded the visuals and technical aspects. The secret behind great performances, they say, is to find “common ground” with the actors because casting is the most important decision-making period for any film.The directors also shared their thoughts on low-budget filmmaking,and the freedoms and problems this produces. The making of their latest film was a financial and technical challenge that has proven to be a success at home and abroad.


For Nikolaj Arcel the concerns were different. His film is a period piece about an affair in the highest ranks of Danish royalty for which he wanted the acting to feel contemporary. “I hate when period films get too stuffy” he said. He wanted the emotion but not the theatricality of older costume dramas. Arcel talked about his fear towards actors at the beginning of his career, and how developing trust is the key to ask an actor to deliver truth. Another of his convictions is to roll the camera for a long time in the most tender and intimate moments to catch something special. This has become easier for the directors to do thanks to digital filmmaking; however, Arcel declared himself a purist in the sense that he is still loves 35mm film


Undoubtedly, the most sought-after of the back was two time Palm d’Or winner Austrian director Michael Haneke. His film about an elderly couple at the end of their road has become a huge success this award season, receiving 5 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Director for Haneke. The filmmaker talked about his relationship with actors and the meticulous process he follows. Haneke described his strict parameters that outline every part of the scene.

He is a true believer in storyboarding, but doesn’t favor rehearsing as he thinks it gives the actors a sense of “false security” that takes the life out of the performance. He expressed his admiration for Jean-Louis Trintignant and his mysterious qualities as an actor, and was happy that the actor decided to make the film after 15 years of retirement.About his infamous long takes he said that although he is painfully a perfectionist, he “shoots for the cut” and once he gets what hi wants the editing is simplified. Truly and experienced filmmaker that still finds inspiration to create great work. Not surprisingly Mr. Haneke will most likely walk with the Golden Globe on Sunday night, which will be a very deserving win.