The title of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' current exhibition, "From 'Amarcord' to 'Z': Posters From Fifty Years of Foreign Language Film Winners," is a bit misleading because the show actually covers 60 years of Academy Award-winning foreign films.
Fifty years ago, the academy created a best foreign language film category — the first winner was Federico Fellini's landmark Italian drama "La Strada" — but for nearly a decade prior, the organization had handed honorary and special awards to foreign films. "So we decided to do the entire history of the award," says curator Ellen Harrington.
The posters in the exhibition come from the academy library's own collection, which, Harrington says, "are, by and large, posters from the country of origin. Although when we don't own one, we have used an American poster. And in some cases we used an alternate nationality poster."
These days, the academy receives official posters from directors whose films are nominated in the foreign language film category, which go into the library collection. "But it wasn't always that way," says Harrington. "So for the early ones, we have received donations or collected them somewhat haphazardly."
Notably missing are original posters from 1955's "Samurai: The Legend of Musashi," which won the last honorary award, Fellini's 1957 "The Nights of Cabiria" and Spain's 1982 "Volver a Empezar."
"Even in 1982, we were not systematically making sure we" acquired posters, says Harrington. "We would love to add those posters to our collection."
Because the show is titled "From 'Amarcord' to 'Z,' " the posters from those two Oscar winners share the first wall of the Grand Lobby gallery. Most of the other posters are in chronological order.
Among the highlights of the collection are oversized fine arts posters of the honorary award-winning Italian films directdd by Vittoria DeSica "The Bicycle Thief" and "Shoe-Shine" as well as an expressionistic fine arts poster from Poland of the French-Italian film "The Walls of Malapaga."
Though international posters from the 1950s-'70s were generally based on fine arts or graphics, that process has given away to more photo-based designs.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times