Heli Mexico Oscar Entry

Mexico has selected Cannes competition player “Heli” as its contender for the foreign-language Academy Award race.

Amat Escalante‘s divisive Mexican cartel drama about the budding love between a young girl and a policeman won the ARRI/OSRAM award for best film at the Munich Intl. Film Festival earlier this year. Additionally, Escalante nabbed the director prize at the film’s Cannes Film Festival in May.

“Heli” shocked some Cannes critics for its unflinching portrayal of drug violence. But, “The film is a fiction. It’s about characters, a family that is destroyed by the violence and attempts to rebuild. Mexico’s drg wars is just the context,” Escalante told Variety Wednesday after “Heli” was named Mexico’s Academy Award submission.

In his Cannes film review, Variety critic Scott Foundas wrote that the pic was “destined to traumatize buyers and audiences in roughly equal measure.”

The pic is a Mantarraya/Tres Tunas production in association with Nodream Cinema, in co-production with Le Pacte, Foprocine-Conaculta, Unafilm, Lemming Film, Tikoman and IKE Asistencia.

The last date to submit entries for the foreign-language Academy Awards is Oct. 1. Nominations will be announced Jan. 16 and the ceremony will be held March 2 at the Dolby Theater.

(John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

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