Romania, Hungary join Oscar race

'Silence,' 'Journey' vie for foreign language prize

“The Rest Is Silence,” an ambitious epic movie within a movie, has been chosen to represent Romania for the foreign-language Oscar at the Academy Awards, while festival favorite “Iska’s Journey,” a poignant exploration of poverty and human trafficking in Eastern Europe, is Hungary’s entry.

Directed by Nae Caranfil, “Silence” chronicles the making of “The War of Independence,” Romania’s first cinematic epic shot in 1912, 35 years after the bloody national conflict it depicts. The story follows the struggles of its fictional director to win the support he needs to get his project off the ground, and prevent a big French studio from stealing his idea.

With a budget of $4 million, “Silence” is one of the most expensive pics in Romanian film history. The pic preemed in competition at the Locarno Film Festival last year and also screened at this month’s Telluride Film Fest.

“Iska’s Journey,” directed by Csaba Bollok, uses a gritty documentary style to tell the story of runaways from an abusive home. It premiered at the 2007 Hungarian Film Week and went on to become popular on the international fest circuit, playing at Berlin among its more than 50 screenings.

The Academy has invited 96 countries to submit films for foreign-language Oscar consideration. Deadline for submission is Oct. 1, the nominations will be announced Jan. 22, and the 81st awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 22.