Wartime soccer drama defeats 'Tears,' 'Remix'

MOSCOW — Darko Mitrevski’s wartime soccer film “The Third Half” was submitted Thursday as Macedonia’s entry for the foreign-language Oscar.

One of a recent spate of films from Eastern Europe about soccer and ethnic and national loyalties during wartime occupation by the Germans, the film beat Teona Strugar Mitevska’s “Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears” and omnibus feature “Skopje Remix” for the national nomination, Darko Basheski, head of the Macedonian Film Fund told Variety.

Set in Macedonia, then part of Yugoslavia, following the Nazi invasion and based on a true story, the film follows the fortunes of FC Macedonia and their German-Jewish coach Rudolph Spitz who led them to victory in a championship in the Nazi soccer league.

Replete with the divided loyalties common at the time, plot involves a love affair between a rough diamond soccer player Kosta (Sasko Kovec) and beautiful wealthy Jewish girl Rebecca, a debut by New York-based Macedonian model Katarina Ivanovska.

Germany’s Richard Sammel, who had minor roles in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Life Is Beautiful,” plays Spitz.

Film is produced by Skopje’s Kino Oko, I/O Post in Prague and Los Angeles’ The Little Film Company, which is also handling international sales.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for foreign-language film on Jan. 15. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.

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