France sets 'Declaration,' Portugal sends 'Jose,' more
Six more countries have unveiled their contenders for foreign-language Oscar consideration at the Academy Awards in February.France will send Valerie Donzelli’s “Declaration of War,” a €1.3 million ($1.7 million) dramedy that bowed in Cannes’ Critics’ Week. Produced by Rectangle Prods., “War” follows a young couple who struggle to save their baby from a brain tumor, based on Donzelli’s own experience. “War” has grossed nearly $3.3 million at the box office in two weeks. Pic has sold to more than 30 territories, including the U.S., where Sundance Selects took rights after Cannes. Portugal has nominated Miguel Goncalves Mendes’ documentary “Jose and Pilar” about the final years of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago. The pic was co-produced by the director’s JumpCut, Fernando Meirelles’ O2 and Pedro Almodovar’s El Deseo. North American rights have been sold to Outsider Pictures. Belgium has selected dark thriller “Rundskop” (Bullhead) about a young farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts) who pumps illegal growth hormones into himself and his cattle, with unexpected consequences. Directed by first-timer Michael R. Roskam, the film mixes Flemish- and French-speaking characters, making it a rare example of a story straddling Belgium’s main language communities. “Rundskop” debuted internationally at Berlin in February. “Le Havre,” directed, written and produced by Aki Kaurismaki, will rep Finland. The film centers on a man who shines shoes for a living, who tries to save a refugee child. Pic, selected by a jury supervised by the Finnish Film Chamber, won the Fipresci prize and the special mention of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes. It was produced by Sputnik Oy, and co-produced by France’s Pyramide Prods. and Germany’s Pandora Film. Nadine Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?,” which had its North American preem at the Toronto Film Festival, is Lebanon’s runner. “Where” follows women who unite to protect their isolated mining community from outside conflict. It world preemed in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Pathe Intl. is selling the pic. “Nader and Simin, a Separation,” the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear at Berlin, is Iran’s submission. Writer-helmer Asghar Farhadi’s Tehran-set pic traces the breakdown of a middle-class couple’s marriage and was made with the help of a $25,000 grant from the MPA’s Asia Pacific Screen Award Academy Film Fund. The Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance attempted to block Farhadi from production following a speech in which he called for banned filmmakers, including Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who is in self-imposed exile, and Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest, to be allowed to return to the Iranian film scene. The government rescinded the ban after Farhadi apologized for his remarks. That makes it all the more surprising that a board of nine cineastes assigned by the Farabi Cinematic Foundation, an affiliate to the ministry, chose “Nader and Simin.” Meanwhile, Luxembourg isn’t sending a film to the Oscars for the third consecutive year. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1. The Academy Awards will be held Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. (Elsa Keslassy, Martin Dale, Ian Mundell, Leo Barraclough, Jennie Punter and Debra Kamin contributed to this report.)
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