Oscar to consider record-setting 63 submissions
Widening its reach still further, Oscar’s overseas category will consider a record-setting 63 submissions from around the world. The selection committee will narrow the pool to five nominees.XXY
(Lucia Puenzo, Argentina)
Synopsis: An Argentine family living in Uruguay contends with the delicate matter of their teenager, who’s a hermaphrodite coming to terms with his/her sexuality. With Ricardo Darin as the father.
Prizes: Cannes Critics’ Week (grand prize); Edinburgh (New Director); Athens (film); Festival Nouveau Cinema Montreal (critics prize)
Sales: Pyramide Intl. The Home Song Stories
(Tony Ayres, Australia)
Synopsis: A Hong Kong nightclub singer (Joan Chen) and her children move through a string of relationships with men in 1960s Australia.
Prizes: Brisbane (Fipresci); Hawaii (narrative film); Australian Film Institute — 14 nominations; Australian Writers Guild (best original screenplay); New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award (screenplay)
Sales: Fortissimo The Counterfeiters
(Stefan Ruzowitzky, Austria)
Synopsis: A master counterfeiter and POW in a Nazi concentration camp is recruited by Germans to ply his craft for the Third Reich’s war effort.
Prizes: German Film Awards (supporting actor); Ghent (film); Abu Dhabi (actor)
U.S. distrib: Sony Pictures Classics Caucasia
(Farid Gumbatov, Azerbaijan)
Synopsis: After her husband’s death, a widow returns to Moscow with her mother-in-law, unaware that a depressed passenger is determined to blow up the train en route.
Sales: None On the Wings of Dreams
(Golam Rabbany Biplob, Bangladesh)
Synopsis: The accidental discovery of some cash in a pants pocket triggers greed and longing in the mind of an herbal medicine peddler.
Prizes: Shanghai (director — Asian New Talent)
Sales: MDC Intl. Ben X
(Nic Balthazar, Belgium)
Synopsis: A computer-games geek seeks contact with a fellow female contestant while he seems to be losing his mind fending off the real-life taunts and tortures of school bullies.
Prizes: Montreal (audience award, Ecumenical prize)
Sales: Films Distribution It’s Hard to Be Nice
(Srdan Vuletic, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Synopsis: A Sarajevo taxi driver tries to turn his life around and win back his wife’s love after she spurns him for his involvement in the local underworld.
Prizes: Sarajevo (actor)
Sales: Fortissimo The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
(Cao Hamburger, Brazil)
Synopsis: A young boy, deposited in a safehouse by parents fleeing Brazil’s military dictatorship, finds new friends and adventures in Sao Paolo’s Jewish quarter.
Prizes: Sao Paolo (Critics award — honorable mention; special jury award); Rio de Janiero (audience award); ABC Cinematography Awards (cinematography, editing, sound, art direction)
Sales: Miravista Films/ Gullane Filmes Warden of the Dead
(Ilian Simeonov, Bulgaria)
Synopsis: A young tween orphan is the unofficial director of a cemetery and burdened with premonitions, while war dead are being surreptitiously buried in the graveyard under cover of darkness.
Production companies: Camera Production in association with Bulgarian National Television Days of Darkness
(Denys Arcand, Canada)
Synopsis: A civil servant who’s fed up with his job and inattentive wife escapes into a fantasy world dominated by a group of beautiful women.
Sales: StudioCanal Padre nuestro
(Rodrigo Sepulveda, Chile)
Synopsis: A dying father’s last request requires his three grown children, all living and working in Santiago, to visit him at his home in Valparaiso. With Cecilia Roth.
Prizes: Cartagena (actor); Valdivia (actor)
Sales: Primer Plano Group/ Caco The Knot
(Yin Li, China)
Synopsis: A sprawling melodrama, set in the turbulent 1940s and ’50s, about an ill-fated love involving a young teacher and a rich dentist’s daughter.
Prizes: Shanghai (special jury award); Huabiao Film Awards (film, director, screenplay, actor)
Production companies: China Film Group Corp./ China Movie Channel (China)/ Long Shong Entertainment Multimedia Co. (Taiwan)/ Emperor Classic Films Co. (Hong Kong) Satanas
(Andi Baiz, Colombia)
Synopsis: Psychological thriller based on Mario Mendoza’s novel and the true story of a Colombian-born Vietnam veteran who went on a massive killing spree in Bogota in the 1980s.
Prizes: Monte Carlo (film, actor)
Sales: The Little Sales Co. Armin
(Ognjen Svilicic, Croatia)
Synopsis: A father takes his epileptic teen son to Zagreb to audition for a part in a German film about the Bosnian war, but their dreams are repeatedly thwarted.
Prizes: Karlovy Vary (film — East of West section); Festroia (screenplay); Durban (actor); Pula (actor, screenplay, critics prize); Paris (young jury award)
Sales: MDC Intl. The Silly Age
(Pavel Giroud, Cuba)
Synopsis: In pre-revolutionary Havana, the son of an emotionally scarred mother contends with living under the same roof with his difficult grandmother.
Sales: KWA (Kevin Williams Associates) I Served the King of England
(Jiri Menzel, Czech Republic)
Synopsis: A survivor of the Czech Communist gulag recalls his wild and romantic adventures as a servant and waiter during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II. Starring Julia Jentsch.
Prizes: Berlin (Fipresci); Czech Lions (film, director, supporting actor, cinematography)
Sales: Bavaria Film Intl. The Art of Crying
(Peter Schonau Fog, Denmark)
Synopsis: An 11-year-old who adores his father — despite the dad’s abusive and emotionally erratic behavior — acts out in extreme ways when the family business appears to be in crisis.
Prizes: San Sebastian (youth jury award); Warsaw (screenplay); Lecce (Fipresci); Istanbul (Fipresci); Motovun (special jury mention); Brussels European (audience award); Goteborg (cinematography); Kodak Nordic Vision award (cinematography); Nordic Council film prize; Nordisk Film Award
Sales: Svensk Filmindustri In the Heliopolis Flat
(Mohamed Khan, Egypt)
Synopsis: A rural music teacher searches for her beloved mentor who has disappeared in Cairo, and finds that the mentor’s flat is haunted, though the current tenant — a Cairo stockbroker — doesn’t believe it.
Prizes: Alexandra (critics prize); Egyptian Assn. of Film Writers and Critics (film)
Sales: The Egyptian Film Center The Class
(Ilmar Raag, Estonia)
Synopsis: A kid who’s long been the object of classroom bullies finds an ally, which sets off a climax of violent revenge.
Prizes: Karlovy Vary (East of the West — special mention); Warsaw (special jury award, Fipresci)
Sales: NonStop Sales A Man’s Job
(Aleksi Salmenpera, Finland)
Synopsis: A family man is laid off from his job, and while desperately searching for new work, accidentally discovers he can make loads of cash as a male prostitute.
Prizes: Valencia Cinema Jove (film)
Sales: MDC Intl. Persepolis
(Marjane Satrapi/Vincent Paronnaud, France)
Synopsis: Animated version of Satrapi’s pair of autobiographical graphic novels about a girl growing into womanhood during the early, oppressive years of Iran’s theocratic dictatorship.
Prizes: Cannes (jury prize); Cinemanila (special jury prize); Vancouver (audience award).
U.S. distrib: Sony Pictures Classics The Russian Triangle
(Aleko Tsabadze, Georgia)
Synopsis: A Georgian-born police intern gets involved with the investigation of a string of murders in a Russian city, with his quest leading to the conflict in Chechnya.
Prizes: Moscow (jury prize)
Sales: Intercinema XXI Century The Edge of Heaven
(Fatih Akin, Germany)
Synopsis: The lives of six characters living in Hamburg and Istanbul, including a university professor, a prostitute and a political activist, intersect in a tale of death and reparation.
Prizes: Cannes (screenplay); Cinemanila (Lino Brocka award), European Film Award (screenwriter)
U.S. distrib: Strand Releasing Eduart
(Angeliki Antoniou, Greece)
Synopsis: An Albanian refugee in Athens dreams of a music career but becomes drawn into a life of crime until his life takes a dramatic turn during a stint behind bars.
Prizes: Thessaloniki (Greek film, director, screenplay, set design, music, sound, editing, costumes, makeup, Fipresci)
Sales: MDC Intl. Exiled
(Johnnie To, Hong Kong)
Synopsis: A man has turned away from life in a gang, but his former hitmen colleagues aren’t about to let him off the hook.
Prizes: Sitges (jury award); Golden Horse festival (special award); Hong Kong Film Critics Society (film, director)
U.S. distrib: Magnolia Pictures Taxidermia
(Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary)
Synopsis: A surrealist overview of three generations of men with bizarre genetic mutations, ranging from a masturbating orderly and a speed-eater to a methodical taxidermist.
Prizes: Hungarian Film Week (grand prize, critics award, supporting actor and actress); Chicago (Silver Hugo); Fantasporto (audience award); Brussels European (film); Antalya Eurasia (director); Tallinn (critics award)
U.S. distrib: Tartan USA Jar City
(Baltasar Kormakur, Iceland)
Synopsis: A geneticist is stumped by a mysterious disease that appears to be killing his young daughter, while a detective in the same town is burdened with a drug-addled daughter and an unsolved murder.
Prizes: Karlovy Vary (film); Edda Awards — Iceland (film, director, actor, supporting actor, music)
U.S. distrib: IFC First Take Eklavya — The Royal Guard
(Vidhu Vinod Chopra, India)
Synopsis: As a queen dies, her royal family festers, and the king becomes the target of an assassination while the stalwart titular royal guard roots out the bad guys.
U.S. distrib: Eros Intl. Denias, Singing on the Cloud
(John De Rantau, Indonesia)
Synopsis: A boy from Papua Island ventures a long distance to attend a school but faces rampant prejudice once he arrives until he receives help from two new pals.
Prizes: Indonesia festival (actor, screenplay); Jakarta (Indonesian film); Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (children’s feature).
Production company: Alenia Pictures M for Mother
(Rasoul Mollagholipour, Iran)
Synopsis: Against the wishes of her husband, a mother insists on going through with the pregnancy of her child, who’s afflicted with defects from the mother’s exposure to chemical weapons.
Prizes: Religion Today festival (film)
Production company: Aftab Negaran Prods. Jani Gal
(Jamil Rostami, Iraq)
Synopsis: Searching for a midwife for his pregnant wife, an Iraqi Kurd is mistakenly arrested during a political demonstration and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Production company: Suli Film Kings
(Tom Collins, Ireland)
Synopsis: A wake for a friend compels five Irish ex-patriots to re-evaluate their life choices and relationship with their homeland. A bilingual film in Gaelic and English.
Prizes: Hamptons (cinematography); Directors Finders Series
Sales: High Point Media Group Beaufort
(Joseph Cedar, Israel)
Synopsis: A young commander of an Israeli military outpost endures mental and physical stress during Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.
Prizes: Berlin (Silver Bear — director); Israeli Film Academy awards (cinematography, editing, sound, art direction)
U.S. distrib: Kino Intl. The Unknown Woman
(Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy)
Synopsis: A Ukrainian woman who had once been sold into sex slavery tries to gain back the love of an adopted girl whom she believes to be her birth child.
Prizes: European Film Award (People’s Choice); David di Donatello Awards (film, director, actress, cinematography, music); Moscow (director, audience award)
U.S. distrib: Outsider Pictures I Just Didn’t Do It
(Masayuki Suo, Japan)
Synopsis: A young man with no crime record is wrongly accused of sexually harassing a Tokyo schoolgirl, and goes to trial to defend and clear his name. Suo’s first film since “Shall We Dance?” 11 years ago.
Sales: Pony Canyon Mongol
(Sergei Bodrov, Kazakhstan)
Synopsis: In the country’s second-ever submission, the abused, enslaved child of a Mongol warrior grows up, quells his local enemies and unites the Mongolian tribes, earning the title of Genghis Khan.
U.S. distrib: Picturehouse Secret Sunshine
(Lee Chang-dong, Korea)
Synopsis: A mother grieving over a tragic loss responds by passionately embracing Pentecostal Christianity, bringing her to the brink of insanity.
Prizes: Cannes (actress); Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (film, actress); Korean Grand Bell awards (special award)
Sales: CJ Entertainment Caramel
(Nadine Labaki, Lebanon)
Synopsis: Five female friends schmooze and support one another as they congregate at a Beirut beauty salon.
U.S. distrib: Roadside Attractions Little Secrets
(Pol Cruchten, Luxembourg)
Synopsis: The 12-year-old son of a typewriter shop owner in 1962 Luxembourg goes through several life changes and tries to decipher odd codes in his dad’s accounting ledgers. Dialogue is in the Luxembourgish dialect.
Sales: Quinta Communications Shadows
(Milcho Manchevski, Macedonia)
Synopsis: A doctor recovers from a near-fatal car crash, only to be haunted by ghosts and other strange encounters.
Sales: Bavaria Film Intl. Silent Light
(Carlos Reygadas, Mexico)
Synopsis: A married man carries on an affair with a woman in their tightly bound Mennonite community, transforming the lives of everyone involved. Dialogue in the Plautdietsch dialect.
Prizes: Cannes (Jury Prize); Rio de Janeiro (Fipresci — Latin American film); Chicago (film)
Sales: Bac Films Intl. Duska
(Jos Stelling, the Netherlands)
Synopsis: After issuing a blanket invite to film festival attendees to visit him at home, a screenwriter is confronted with the unexpected arrival of a persistent Russian stranger.
Prizes: Netherlands festival (supporting actress)
Sales: Eyeworks Gone With the Woman
(Petter Naess, Norway)
Synopsis: A dull-minded and insecure bachelor’s bland life is suddenly turned upside down by a verbose and whimsical young woman.
Prizes: Haugesund Film Festival (Ray of Sunshine), Hollywood Film Festival (feature)
Sales: Svensk Filmindustri Crossing a Shadow
(Augusto Tamayo, Peru)
Synopsis: Saga about the private and public lives of an engineer in 1908 Peru who helps transform the country’s transportation and communications systems.
Production company: Argos Prods. Donsol
(Adolfo Alix Jr., Philippines)
Synopsis: A young tourist guide in the small fishing town of Donsol, where whale sharks visit annually offshore, falls in love with a lonely woman.
Prizes: Cinemalaya (actress, cinematography); Fort Lauderdale (Spirit of Independence award); Golden Screen Awards — Philippines (breakthrough performance, cinematography)
Production company: Bicycle Pictures Katyn
(Andrzej Wajda, Poland)
Synopsis: Honorary Oscar recipient Wajda dramatizes the true story of innocent victims and their loved ones involved in the Soviet murder of thousands of Polish officers during WWII.
Sales: Netino Belle toujours
(Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal)
Synopsis: Thirty-eight years after Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de jour,” the central characters (Michel Piccoli and Bulle Ogier, replacing Catherine Deneuve) reunite for a strange, amusing Parisian encounter.
U.S. distrib: New Yorker Films Love Sickness
(Carlitos Ruiz/Mariem Perez,
Synopsis: Three stories involving a divorced elderly couple who develop a love triangle with a guest; a young boy and his father caught cheating on his mother; and a love-obsessed man taking a hostage aboard a bus.
Sales: Ondamax 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
(Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
Synopsis: In 1987, during Romania’s waning Communist period, a pregnant university student and her best friend desperately arrange for an illegal late-term abortion — but the procedure comes at a high price.
Prizes: European Film Award (film, director), Cannes (Palme d’Or, Fipresci); San Sebastian (Fipresci film of the year)
U.S. distrib: IFC First Take 12
(Nikita Mikhalkov, Russia)
Synopsis: A loose remake of “12 Angry Men” (by the director of Oscar winner “Burnt by the Sun”) transplanted to a Russian jury room where the fate of a young Chechen boy accused of murder is being decided.
Production company: Tri-Te Studio The Trap
(Srdan Golubovic, Serbia)
Synopsis: A father is plunged into a terrible dilemma when he and his wife can’t afford a necessary heart operation for their ailing young son.
Prizes: Sofia (film)
Sales: Bavaria Film Intl. 881
(Royston Tan, Singapore)
Synopsis: A pair of singers specializing in Singapore’s unique “getai” pop song culture team up for a crowdpleasing act.
Sales: Easternlight Films Return of the Storks
(Martin Repka, Slovakia)
Synopsis: A German flight attendant visits her grandmother’s village on the Slovak-Ukraine border to get back in touch with her roots.
Production companies: Sen Film/Stoked Film/Hoo Doo Prods. Short Circuits
(Janez Lapajne, Slovenia)
Synopsis: Three intercut stories concern a bus driver finding an abandoned baby, a beautiful doctor visiting a self-pitying paraplegic and a careless divorced dad facing a life-or-death incident with his son.
Sales: Triglav The Orphanage
(Juan Antonia Bayona, Spain)
Synopsis: A mother revisits the Spanish orphanage where she was raised, finding it to be haunted. When her son disappears, she attempts to uncover the building’s terrible secret. Produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Geraldine Chaplin.
U.S. distrib: Picturehouse You, the Living
(Roy Andersson, Sweden)
Synopsis: Andersson’s latest venture in contemporary urban absurdism takes the form of a chain of vignettes, revolving around the themes of unfulfilled longing and the indifference of others.
Prizes: Chicago (Silver Hugo — director); Flanders (Georges Delerue Prize for best music )
Sales: The Coproduction Office Late Bloomers
(Bettina Oberli, Switzerland)
Synopsis: A recent widow and ex-dressmaker, stuck in a depressed funk, is convinced by friends in her small town to open a lingerie shop featuring her own designs.
Prizes: Locarno (Special Leopard — actress).
Sales: Telepool Island Etude
(Chen Huai-en, Taiwan)
Synopsis: A hearing-impaired university student takes a bicycle road trip around the circumference of Taiwan, encountering strangers and friends along the way.
Sales: Arclight Films King Naresuan
(Chatrichalerm Yukol, Thailand)
Synopsis: Epic tracing the rise of King Naresuan of Ayudhya, from boyhood to Thailand’s supreme military hero as he quells threats from neighboring Burma.
Sales: Sahamongkol Film Intl. Takva — A Man’s Fear of God
(Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey)
Synopsis: A loyal follower of a rich, property-owning Istanbul imam is asked to be his rent collector, forcing him into situations that violate his core beliefs.
Prizes: Berlin (Fipresci); Toronto (Innovation award); Istanbul (actor); Sarajevo (film); Asia-Pacific Screen awards (actor)
Sales: The Match Factory The Pope’s Toilet
(Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay)
Synopsis: In anticipation of thousands attending the Pope’s visit to a small town in 1988, a petty smuggler builds a bathroom as a moneymaking scheme.
Prizes: San Sebastian (Horizontes award); Gramado (actress, actor, screenplay, audience award, critics prize)
Sales: Bavaria Film Intl. Postcards From Leningrad
(Mariana Rondon, Venezuela)
Synopsis: A ’60s-set tale in which two children concoct an imaginative universe based on their guerrilla parents’ adventures.
Prizes: Biarritz (film)
Sales: Sudaca Films The White Silk Dress
(Huynh Luu, Vietnam)
Synopsis: A hunchback and a servant girl make for an unconventional couple during Vietnam’s tumultuous period from 1954 to 1966.
Prizes: Pusan (audience award — New Currents); Golden Rooster (international film)
Sales: Vietnam Media Corp.