February film fun

Porto once again hosts the Fantasporto Film Festival this month. Founded by the editors of the Cinema Novo film magazine, and supported by state and private sponsors, the festival awards prizes to both features and short films. This year, 206 new films will premiere in various sections, including fantasy films, director’s week (non-fantasy films), and music videos. Around 70 per cent of the films are European, but the remaining 30 per cent are from other countries. Fantasporto attracts extensive press coverage and over 100,000 visitors to Porto, making it Portugal’s largest film festival.

But all this is just a warm-up to the big movie occasion of the year – the Oscar ceremony on February 29. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the hot favourite to sweep the board, with 11 nominations. Other films nominated for best picture are Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Mystic River and Seabiscuit. Britain is well represented in the best actor category, with nominations for Jude Law and Sir Ben Kingsley for Cold Mountain and House of Sand and Fog respectively. Other nominees are Johnny Depp for Pirates, Sean Penn for Mystic River and Bill Murray for Lost in Translation. Return of the King director, Peter Jackson, is a strong favourite to win the best director, but he may be pipped to the post by Lost in Translation’s director, Sofia Coppola. The best actress category sees nominations for Samantha Morton (In America), Charlize Theron (Monster), Naomi Watts (21 Grams), Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give) and Keisha Castle-Hughes for WhaleRider.