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Oscar success buoys foreign filmmakers

February 27, 2007|From Times wire services

News from the Academy Awards reverberated internationally Monday, sparking cheers and expressions of hope in countries that had a connection to the winners.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated first-time filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose "The Lives of Others" won for best foreign language film, praising in particular the movie's "authentic German plot." Ugandans welcomed Forest Whitaker's victory as best actor. And a filmmaker in Hong Kong predicted the showing of "The Departed" will give his ailing film industry a boost.

"I've never been so happy watching TV before, seeing your movie remake doing so well," said Andrew Lau, one of the two directors of "Infernal Affairs," the popular 2002 gangster flick on which Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning "The Departed" was based.

"This will suddenly raise the profile of the Hong Kong filmmaking industry," Lau said. "And there may be more opportunities. There'll be more financing. But most of all, there'll be more chances for [Hong Kong] films to achieve fame and success overseas."

In Kampala, Ugandans praised Whitaker's portrayal of former dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

"He really deserved to win. He did it exactly like Amin," said Rashid Lubega, 19, a student too young to remember Amin's 1970s rule but who has seen documentaries. "It is amazing he is American but manages to be so African in that role."

The film sold out in Kampala on Friday, a week after a showing attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who fought Amin as a guerrilla. "I salute Mr. Whitaker," he said. "He was a real Amin -- the mannerisms, the alternating between buffoonery and devilish cunning. That was what he was like."

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