The Oscars Show Some Love To Global Topics

January 14, 2016

Hollywood may have shut out actors of color from its 2016 nominations — but Goats and Soda is impressed with the way global topics came into the mix in other categories.

This year’s nominees include foreign language films and documentaries that look at a lot of the topics we cover in this blog. There are issues from the present day — Ebola in Liberia, honor killings in Pakistan — and from the past: colonialism in the Amazon, the Indonesian genocide of 1965, the health impacts of the Vietnam War.

Here’s a roundup of the trailers from the globally minded nominees.

Best foreign language film

Embrace of the Serpent

Two white explorers venture through 1900s Amazon in search of a rare medicinal plant, guided by Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people. Along the way, they witness the ravages of colonialism: orphaned children, destroyed cultures, the loss of rainforest land.


Five sisters from a conservative Muslim village in Northern Turkey are punished when they’re caught socializing with male classmates. Locked in their homes, doomed to arranged marriages and ostracized from their community, they each find a way to rebel.

Best documentary, short subject

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
U.S., Pakistan

In Pakistan, more than 1,000 women are killed by family members in the name of “honor” each year, for example, having a boyfriend in secret. The film examines the interpretations of Islam that allow these killings, shares the story of one survivor and looks at human rights groups in Pakistan lobbying for new laws to protect women.

Body Team 12

Body Team 12 is tasked with the gruesome job of safely burying the victims of the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia. Told through the eyes of the team’s only female member, Garmai Sumo, the documentary explores the body collectors’ resilience and strength.

Chau, Beyond the Lines
U.S., Vietnam

Chau, a teenager physically disabled by his mother’s exposure to Agent Orange left behind from the Vietnam War, dreamed of becoming an artist and fashion designer. Some health workers told him he’d never make it, but he pressed forward and proved them wrong.

Best documentary feature

The Look of Silence
Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Norway, U.K.

A family in Indonesia discovers who murdered their son during the 1965 genocide. Unable to stay silent any longer, Adi, the youngest son and an optometrist, confronts the men while testing their eyesight — and asks them to accept responsibility for their actions.

Winter on Fire
Ukraine, U.S., U.K.

This documentary follows the violent unrest in Ukraine during 2013 and 2014, calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

Worst Snub

Beasts of No Nation

While this film wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, it tackles the global topic of child soldiers. It tells the story of Agu, a young boy fighting in a civil war of an unnamed African country. Agu goes through unspeakable circumstances until he is finally encouraged to surrender to the U.N.

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