By Dialogo March 09, 2010 “It feels like a kind of daze,” said Argentine director Juan José Campanella, director of El secreto de sus ojos [The Secret in Their Eyes], while he held the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film awarded Sunday at the eighty-second Academy Awards. “When I get up in the morning, maybe to get a drink of water, and it comes back to me while I’m standing there, I think that’s when it’s going to hit me,” Campanella said in a press conference at the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood. The filmmaker was received by the reporters from his country like a soccer champion or a rock star, shortly after midnight in Los Angeles and in the morning in Argentina and Spain. Campanella, accompanied by actor Guillermo Francella and a number of the Argentine and Spanish producers of this co-production, confessed that they were very nervous when they went up on stage, and since they were one of the largest delegations, there was only time for the director of the movie, which starred Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil, to speak. “Undoubtedly, this opens enormous possibilities for the film, above all when it’s going to open in the United States on 16 April,” Spanish producer Gerardo Herrero said. “This is the confirmation that the strength between two regions, the strength of a co-production, can lead to these marvelous results for cinema,” another of the movie’s producers, Argentine Mariela Besuievsky, told AFP. “Let’s go, Argentina, and a hug for our Chilean brothers” (who suffered a powerful earthquake on 27 February), Campanella shouted as he held up the Oscar, for which the Peruvian La teta asustada [The Milk of Sorrow], by Claudia Llosa, was also nominated. Predictions in the United States had listed as favorites the French Un prophète [A Prophet] and the German The White Ribbon – winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes and of the Golden Globe – in a competition that also included Ajami, from Israel. “I’m not just saying that they’re five films that are radically different from one another. It shows an openness of mind in the Academy that’s very powerful,” Campanella, Oscar in hand, told reporters. He maintained that his movie’s triumph also demonstrated that the Academy “is not concerned about the film’s history, about how many prizes it won somewhere, or political reasons, anything like that.” The voters “just vote for the movie they like, and they showed that,” he affirmed. “I think that there are a lot of preconceptions about this awards process,” he added. “It was really miraculous, because the films it was competing with were excellent,” the movie’s protagonist, Ricardo Darín, said in Buenos Aires. According to Darín, the film won “because it told a difficult story without losing a sense of humor and daily life, while the films with which it was competing are dramas where it’s very difficult to introduce humor, and I think this made them seem very similar.” This Oscar is the second for Argentina, following La historia oficial [The Official Story] by Luis Puenzo in 1986. Both movies allude to the Argentine dictatorship (1976-83) in order to reflect on the crimes committed by those in power. Campanella had already been nominated in 2002 for the successful El hijo de la novia [Son of the Bride]. Although based on the conventions of film noir, El secreto de sus ojos combines genres to tell a story about the human need to slake the thirst for justice, to the point of obtaining it with one’s own hands. The film’s leading actor is Ricardo Darín, the best-known actor in Argentine cinema in recent years, who was also the protagonist of El hijo de la novia. El secreto de sus ojos won two Goya Awards in Madrid, one as the best Spanish American film and another for Villamil as best new actress. It also won five prizes at the Latin American Film Festival in Havana. Together with Darín and Villamil, the third key member of the cast is actor Guillermo Francella, who up to now has had success in Argentina as a comedian. Campanella, trained in Argentina and in New York, has often filmed in the United States, where he has made episodes of the famous series Law and Order and House.