Awards Season Focus: Foreign Language

With an unprecedented number of foreign-language Oscar submissions and an earlier nominations deadline than usual, angst is rampant among filmmakers, distribs and publicists who are trying to be noticed by the committee that whittles the field down to a precious few.

Previously, the 500-member committee had been divided into four groups, but this year there are only three, which means each group has more films to watch, according to awards consultant Tatiana Detlofson, who reps some of the 71 entries this year.

That puts a burden on smaller films without buzz or festival pedigree to get noticed.

“It’s gotten harder to promote foreign-language films, because Academy members are overwhelmed with screenings due to the shortened schedule,” Detlofson says.

There is also a scramble for screening rooms to enable committee members to see all the foreign language submissions in theaters. In the past, the films took advantage of the Palm Springs Film Festival, which made it a point to include nearly all the entries.

Oscar publicist Fredell Pogodin calls it “a bit of a nightmare.” Many of those repping the foreign-lingo films have to compete with Hollywood and indie pics and docs that voters would like to see on the bigscreen, too. There are “lots of films to watch in a short time,” Pogodin says.

The nine films to be shortlisted for foreign-language noms — consisting of the groups’ top six choices, plus three additional selections selected by an exec committee — are scheduled to be revealed Jan. 2, according to the Acad.

From Jan. 4-6, the nine films will be screened for the Phase II committee that will determine the five nominees to be announced Jan. 10.

The Jan. 3 voting deadline for other Oscar noms does not apply to the foreign-language category.

Awards Season Focus: Foreign Language
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