×

Albania to enter ‘Pharmakon’ for Oscars

Pic centers on melancholy pharmacist

HELSINKI — After last year’s row over its Oscar nomination, Albania is poised to announce a unanimously backed movie for the best foreign language pic at next year’s Academy Awards.

Joni Shanaj’s “Pharmakon” is the Balkans country’s only feature made in the past year that meets the Oscar submission requirements.

The film, produced by Touchy Feely Films and Zig-Zag Film, is due to be announced in Tirana Friday by Artan Minoralli, head of the Albanian National Cinematic Center.

“Pharmakon” is about a melancholy 25-year-old pharmacist (Klevis Bega), overshadowed by his cancer specialist father, who dreams of devising a drug that will cure unhappiness.

He falls in love with a nurse (Olta Gixhari) who works with his father, complicating their relationship further.

Last year Albania submitted Joshua Marston’s “The Forgiveness of Blood,” but the film was disqualified after the choice was challenged by director Bujar Alimani, who claimed it failed to meet Oscar nomination rules regarding local crew, language and content.

Alimani’s “Amnesty” was substituted instead.

An Albanian film industry insider told Variety Tuesday that this year’s entry had been thoroughly checked out. “Albania had several film productions (in the past year), but only ‘Pharmakon’ meets the Oscar requirements. And, believe me, no one wants to go down that road again.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for best foreign film on Jan. 10. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh'Patrick Melrose' TV show

    Gina Rodriguez's Sci-Fi Thriller 'Awake' Rounds Out Cast (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper and “Game of Thrones” actor Finn Jones will join Gina Rodriguez in Netflix’s sci-fi thriller “Awake.” The newly announced cast also includes Ariana Greenblatt, Frances Fisher, Shamier Anderson, Lucius Hoyos and Gil Bellows. “Awake” is set after a sudden global event wipes out all electronics and takes away humankind’s ability [...]

  • Woody Allen

    Woody Allen's 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Open Deauville Film Festival

    After being shelved by Amazon Studios in the U.S., Woody Allen’s “A Rainy Day in New York” will be opening the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival in France this fall. “A Rainy Day in New York,” which stars Timotheé Chalamet and Elle Fanning, will be the 8th film by Allen to play [...]

  • Phyllis Nagy

    Writers Guild Candidate Phyllis Nagy Warns of Risks to Residuals (EXCLUSIVE)

    Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging Writers Guild of America West President David Goodman, has warned that guild leaders are endangering future residuals. Nagy, in a message posted Wednesday on her Writers Forward Together site, said residual payments are the most important issue the WGA faces during upcoming negotiations on a successor deal to the current master [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • Annabelle Wallis'The Loudest Voice' TV show

    James Wan's New Horror Film Casts 'Loudest Voice' Star Annabelle Wallis (EXCLUSIVE)

    Annabelle Wallis, who most recently appeared in Showtime’s Roger Ailes miniseries “The Loudest Voice,” has been tapped to star in James Wan’s top secret horror project, sources tell Variety. Wan is tackling the movie this fall before he jumps into prep on the “Aquaman” sequel with Jason Momoa at the top of 2020. Plot details [...]

  • New York Festival Sets Documentaries on

    New York Film Festival Sets Documentaries on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn

    Films on Merce Cunningham, Roy Cohn and Oliver Sacks are among the notable titles set for the Spotlight on Documentary lineup at the 57th New York Film Festival. Alla Kovgan’s “Cunningham 3D” centers on dancer and choreographer Cunningham, who was at the forefront of American modern dance for half a century. The Cohn documentary “Bully. [...]

  • CineLink Work in Progress Provides Step

    CineLink Work in Progress Provides Step Onto International Stage

    The Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Work in Progress section has become a major venue for filmmakers from Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa – this year it saw nearly 70 submissions, the most in the past decade. The competitive program boasts a large number of projects that have gone on to achieve major [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content