With six days to go before the Oct. 1 deadline, several more films have been officially selected for the Academy Awards foreign-language race since my last update. And then, there's the case of the non-selection.
Iran has pulled out of the 2013 Oscar race in protest against the
U.S.-made anti-Islam video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, which has
caused mayhem in the region.
News of Iran's so-called Oscar boycott was reported by the
semiofficial ISNA news agency, which quoted the country's culture
minister Muhammad Hosseini as saying the decision was due to "an
intolerable insult to the Prophet of Islam" and urging other Islamic
countries to follow suit.
Iran won the Oscar in the best foreign language film category
last year with Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation," marking Iran's first
The country's committee in charge of selecting Iran's Oscar
candidate this year had already picked helmer Reza Mirkarimi's dramedy
"A Cube of Sugar" (seen in the trailer above and reviewed by Ronnie Scheib for Variety) — a film about a family wedding turning into a
funeral when a senior member of the groom's family dies — which preemed
at the Montreal Film Festival last year, for Oscar consideration, but
Hosseini told ISNA they will now not present an entry for next year's
Luxembourg is also sitting out the Oscar race, though for less controversial reasons, as Ian Mundell writes for Variety:
… While the small country has produced eligible films in the past year,
the national selection committee came to a majority decision than none
was good enough for such a high-profile international competition.
This is the third successive year that Luxembourg has sat out.
Last year there was simply no film to consider. The year before that,
its two major productions were both in English and therefore ineligible. …
* * *
As for the films that are entering the race, I'm very pleased to see "No," one of my favorite films of the year to date, become the official selection for Chile. The Pablo Larrain film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad executive who improbably becomes a key figure in the attempt to end the Pinochet dictatorship in 1988.
In addition come these selections:
— Albania: "Pharmakon," directed by Joni Shanaj, "about a young man who dreams of devising a drug that will cure unhappiness."
— Colombia: "El Cartel de los sapos" (The Cartel of Snitches), Carlos Moreno's pic "based on the life story of former drug trafficker Andres Lopez."
— Denmark: "Royal Affair," Nikolaj Arcel's historical drama set in 18th-century Denmark and centering on an affair between the queen (Alicia Vikander, "Anna Karenina") and the
king's physician (Mads Mikkelsen, "Casino Royale).
— Dominican Republic: "Jaque Mate" (Checkmate), Jose Maria Cabral's feature depicting "events that
follow when a TV host receives a call from his family's kidnappers while
he's on air."
— Estonia: "Mushrooming," debut helmer Toomas Hussar's "black comedy of modern political and celebrity manners."
— Finland: "Purge," directed by Antti Jokinen and based on an international bestselling novel by Sofi Oksanen "about two women from different eras linked by separate tales
of deceit, desperation and fear."
— Hong Kong: "Life," Johnnie To's suspense-thriller focusing "on a bank teller turned financial analyst, a petty thief
trying to make it big in the futures market and a middle-class police
officer suddenly in need of a cash injection, whose lives intersect when
a swag bag of cash pops up."
— India: "Barfi," a love triangle directed by Anurag Basu "between a man who cannot speak or hear, an autistic woman and a fully abled woman."
— Kazakhstan: "Myn Bala," Akan Satayev's $10 million-budgeted "true story a group of teenage rebels who rose up against a brutal
Mongol army occupying their lands in the early 18th century."
— Russia: "White Tiger," Karen Shakhnazarov's supernatural-infused tale of "a tank officer's obsession with destroying a mysterious, but
massive, German tank that leaves a trail of destruction in its wake."
— Slovakia: "Made in Ash," the feature debut of documentary filmmaker Iveta Grofova that is "a raw look at young Roma girl Dorotka (Dorota Billa) and her rapid
descent into exploitation after she goes to the Czech Republic to work
in a textile factory."
— Switzerland: "L'enfant d'en haut" (Sister)," the Ursula Meier-directed story of "a poor 12-year-old boy and his teen sister who steal from wealthy tourists at a swanky ski resort in order to survive."
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Those films join the following previously announced submissions: