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A still from the film "A Yak in the Classroom"

The Academy Awards’ holiday hotlist

The winner and nominees of Best International Feature at the 2022 Oscars take viewers around the world, offering five superb films set in places every traveller should visit. These are the movies you need to watch and the locations that deserve prizes of their own


01/03/2022

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Adobe Stock)

Drive My Car

Japan

Winner of the Oscar for Best International Feature, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s touching drama follows a widowed actor who develops a quiet bond with his driver, a young woman who’s experienced just as much tragedy as her employer. It’s a beautiful film about how time heals, which is just as much the story of Japan as it is the film’s protagonist.

Much of the film is set in Hiroshima, a city that experienced unimaginable destruction when it was struck by an atomic bomb in 1945. It’s now a place of extraordinary beauty, nestled on the edge of the Seto Inland Sea with views of pine-covered mountains. Drive My Car shows the island in autumn, the trees turning a deep rusty red, but it’s a place to visit at any time of year. Admire the views on a bike ride along the coast (keen cyclists can tackle the 60km Shimanami Kaido cycling route across the Inland Sea’s six islands), visit the moving Peace Memorial Park featured in the film, or take the short trip to tiny Ōkunoshima island and spend a morning among its hundreds of wild rabbits.

Take off to Japan

Cape Campanella, Sorrento, Italy (Adobe Stock)

The Hand of God

Italy

Paul Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical tale takes place in Naples in the 1980s, in a summer that is equal parts joy and tragedy. The entire city is enraptured by the sporting achievements of its adopted hero, the footballer Maradona, first as part of the local team and then as as the player who led Argentina to victory in the World Cup. But, for 16-year-old Fabietto, Maradona is unwittingly linked to the worst moment of his life.

Under the Mediterranean sun, the film is full of lazy lunches overlooking the Sorrento Peninsula, boat trips off the Amalfi Coast, and dramatic architecture – including the glass domes of Galleria Umberto I – that attracted the likes of filmmaker Federico Fellini. It’s a place where everything looks cinematic and summer feels like it may never end.

 

Take off to Italy

Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen (Alamy)

Flee

Denmark

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee achieved a historic Oscars first, with nominations for Best International Feature, Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature. It uses animated images to tell the true story of Amin, who escaped Afghanistan as a boy and now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his boyfriend. It’s a tale of learning to settle after years of running.

It may be animated but it paints Copenhagen as the stylish, open city it is. As well as boasting stunning architectural landmarks, such as the Copenhagen Opera House, Christiansborg Palace and the twinkling Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen is a food-lover’s heaven. Among its many places to eat are Noma and Geranium, named the two best restaurants in the world in 2021.

Take off to Denmark

Ekebergparken, Oslo (Ivar Kvaal)

The Worst Person in the World

Norway

Don’t be fooled by the title. Joachim Trier’s romantic drama is a surprisingly uplifting story about 20-something Julie (Renate Reinsve, winner of Best Actress at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival) looking for love and making a lot of mistakes along the way.

Her search takes her all over Oslo, a city that remains her constant love even as the men change. We don’t recommend running with abandon through Oslo’s streets like Julie does, but do take a slower stroll and visit the Ekeburg Sculpture Park and National Gallery. Or head into the hills and enjoy a sunset dinner with staggering views at Ekebergrestauranten, featured in the movie, and spend some quiet time taking in the beauty of the fjords.

 

Take off to Norway

The Snowman Trek, Bhutan (Alamy). Opening image: scene from A Yak in the Classroom (Kinley Wangchuk and Jigme Thinley)

A Yak in the Classroom

Bhutan

Bhutan earned its first ever Oscar nomination for this heartfelt drama about a schoolteacher sent into the mountains of Northern Bhutan to work in the country’s most remote school.

Director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s directional debut beautifully showcases the stunning scenery of the landlocked country, particularly the small village of Lunana in the northwestern Gasa District, where much of the story was filmed. Ideal for the adventurous traveller, Bhutan offers visitors breathtaking hikes through the Himalayas, all flanked by snow-capped mountains, lakes and forests, which are peppered with ancient monasteries and tiny villages. More confident hikers might even attempt the famous Lunana Snowman Trek, one of the longest and most remote trails in the mountain range.

 

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