60 films now in the running for awards honors
A slew of foreign pics flew in under the wire as the submissions deadline for Oscar’s foreign-language film category hit at 5 p.m. Thursday in Hollywood.With Vietnam, Peru, Colombia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Uruguay and Indonesia now declared, Daily Variety has tallied 60 films in the running. Vietnam was allowed to register its choice — helmer Dang Nhat Minh’s “Don’t Burn,” based on the war diary of a resistance army medic — by email after the postal invitation to submit an entry arrived late, according to an official from the country’s Cinema Agency’s Intl. Co-operation Division. Peru’s Oscar team was torn between two big fest pics but went for the Berlin Golden Bear winner for film, “La teta asustada” (The Milk of Sorrow), by Claudia Llosa, the niece of Peruvian literary giant Mario Vargas Llosa and the daughter of helmer Luis Llosa. It beat Ricardo de Montreuil’s road movie “Mancora,” which played in the Sundance Film Festival World Cinema sidebar in 2008. “La teta asustada” is based on a folk belief that women raped during Peru’s decades of political violence would traumatize the children they breastfed. Colombia selected a Cannes player, Ciro Guerra’s road movie “Los viajes del viento” (Wind Journeys), which played in Un Certain Regard sidebar. “Tayna Chingis Khaana” (By the Will of Genghis Khan), the epic story of the legendary central Asian warlord, is Mongolia’s choice. Pic is a Mongolian-Russian-American co-production. Produced by Vladimir Ivanov, directed by Andrei Borisov and backed by money from Siberian diamond mining interests, the $10 million film has been heavily promoted at markets including Cannes over the past 18 months. The Bangladesh Federation of Film Societies selected Golam Rabbani Biplob’s Toronto player “Britter bairey” (Beyond the Circle). Biplob’s helming debut, “On the Wings of Dreams,” was the country’s 2007 choice. Released in September, “Beyond the Circle” centers on a rural flute player who gets taken for a ride. The Impress Telefilm production, starring Jayanto Chattopadhyay, unspooled in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section last month. Uruguay has selected freshman helmer Alvaro Brechner’s “Mal dia para pescar” (Bad Day to Go Fishing) as its contender. The dark comedy is about a washed-up wrestler and his shifty manager whose attempt to cash in on a wrestling exhibition runs into trouble. Pic stars Finland’s Jouko Ahola, winner of the World’s Strongest Man competitions in 1997 and 1999, who appeared in Werner Herzog’s “Invincible” and Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven.” Brechner wrote the screenplay with co-star Gary Piquer based on Juan Carlos Onetti’s short story “Jacob y el otro.” Uruguay’s Expresso Films produced with Spain’s Telespan 2000 and Baobab Films. Bavaria Film Intl. is handling international sales. Meanwhile, Indonesia has named “Jamila and the President,” a grim depiction of a prostitute serving a life sentence behind bars, directed by Ratna Sarumpaet, as its entry. Nominations will be announced Feb. 2, and the Academy Awards take place on March 7. (Nick Holdsworth, Charles Newbery, Shalini Dore and Anna Marie de la Fuente contributed to this report.)
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