14 countries throw hat in the ring
With just a week to go before the Academy’s Oct. 1 submission deadline, 14 countries have joined the race for a foreign-language Oscar nom.
“When We Leave,” the debut feature by Vienna-born actress-turned-helmer Feo Aladag, is Germany’s selection. Pic, about a German-Turkish woman seeking emancipation from her conservative Muslim family, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and won the narrative feature award and actress prize at Tribeca.
Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men” will represent France. Based on a 1996 incident, the film follows eight French monks who stand up for their beliefs when confronted by fundamentalists. Pic bowed at Cannes where it garnered a jury prize. It was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at Cannes for the U.S.
“Illegal” by Olivier Masset-Depasse will be Belgium’s entry. Pic centers on a Russian woman living illegally in Belgium who is suddenly arrested and held in a detention center. Pic preemed in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.
Denis Villeneuve’s “Incendies” reps Canada. It tells the story of two siblings who travel to the Middle East to deliver letters written by their dead mother to a father they thought was long-dead and a brother they didn’t know existed. Pic has played in the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Sony Pictures Classics acquired U.S. rights.
“Angel,” helmed by Margreth Olin, has been tapped as the Norwegian entry. Maria Bonnevie stars as a drug addict who gives up her daughter for adoption to give the child a better start in life. It won audience awards in Oslo and Gothenburg, as well as the people’s Amanda in Norway’s Film Awards.
Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World,” about how events in a refugee camp in Africa touch the lives of families in a small Danish town, is Denmark’s player. Pic unspooled at the Toronto Film Festival. Produced by Sisse Graum Jorgensen for Zentropa, it has been bought by Sony Pictures Classics for the U.S.
Russia’s pick is “The Edge,” Aleksei Uchitel’s story of a World War II vet sent to work in Siberia, where prison camp survivors eke out a living. The film played at the Toronto Film Festival.
Slovakia has gone for Jaro Vojtek’s “The Border,” a docu about a village divided in two by the Red Army in 1946 and that now straddles the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. Doc world preemed at the Jihlava Documentary Film Fest in 2009.
Azerbaijan has chosen Ilgar Safat’s psychological drama, “The Precinct,” about a photographer forced to choose between marrying his fiancé or taking a lucrative job in Africa.
Latvia’s Academy Awards commission chose Maris Martinsons’ love story “Hong Kong Confidential,” produced by Krukfilms.
Macedonia’s choice is “Mothers,” a montage of three stories that mixes fiction and docu genres directed by Milcho Manchevski. The film had its world premiere in Toronto this month.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth,” about an authoritarian father who keeps his family isolated from the world, is the Greek entry. The film took Un Certain Regard’s top prize in Cannes in 2009.
Fabio Barreto’s “Lula, the Son of Brazil,” a biopic about President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is the country’s Oscar’s choice. In spite of the president’s above 80% approval rate, the pic had a disappointing commercial career, grossing just $4 million this year.
Helmer Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s “Third Person Singular Number” is Bangladesh’s submission. Film follows a woman who defies Muslim culture by living with her boyfriend before marriage. Pic preemed at South Korea’s Pusan Film Festival in 2009 and went on to play at Rotterdam, the Afro-Asian-Latin fest in Milan and at the Dhaka fest where Farooki won for direction.
Nominations for the foreign- language film Oscar will be announced on Jan. 25. The 83rd Academy Awards will be held at the Kodak Theater on Feb. 27.
(Ed Meza in Berlin, Elsa Keslassy in Paris, Nick Holdsworth in Moscow, Brendan Kelly in Montreal, Ian Mundell in Brussels, Gunnar Rehlin in Stockholm, Marcelo Cajuiero in Rio de Janeiro and Naman Ramachandran in London, contributed to this report.)