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Almodovar Out of Foreign-Language Oscar Race

Spanish Academy announces four-pic sumission shortlist

MADRID – Pedro Almodovar’s return to broad comedy, “I’m So Excited!”, will not be squaring off for next March 2’s foreign-language Academy Award.

As many times in the past, Almodovar’s latest was cold-shouldered by members of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who have chosen four other movies in a shortlist for its foreign-language Oscar candidate: Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “Cannibal,” Daniel Sanchez Arevalo’s “Family United,” Gracia Querejeta’s “15 Years Plus a Day” and Santiago Zannou’s “Scorpion in Love.”

After another round of Academy voting, Spain’s foreign-language Oscar submission will be announced September 25 during the San Sebastian Festival.

Spain’s candidate short list does, however, highlight notable titles from a younger generation of filmmakers, two of which deserved more ducats at the Spanish B.O.

World preeming as a Special Presentation at Toronto before it segues to San Sebastian’s main competition, “Cannibal,” a love story-cum-thriller, was included mid-August by Toronto’s artistic director Cameron Bailey in his Mission List of 15 films at Toronto which can transform the way people see the world.

One of the most notable figures of a new half-generation of directors which debuted mid-last-decade, Sanchez Arevalo’s movies have combined international arthouse appeal with mainstream box office results in Spain. Bowing Sept. 13 via Warner Bros. in Spain, “Family United” turns on a dystopian wedding, unspooling during Spain’s World Cup final nail-bitter.

Winning best film and screenplay at Spain’s Malaga Festival, “15 Days” reprises Querejeta’s central concern for family dynamics, here the troubled relations between a mother and her unruly adopted son.

Underperforming but underrated in Spain, “Scorpion,” a modern-day tale of star-crossed lovers – she’s an illegal immigrant, he’s an ex skin-head trying to follow his calling as a boxer – “Scorpion” features Carlos Bardem as a boxing trainer, brother Javier Bardem as a neo-Nazi bigot.

Grossing Euros314,000 ($414,000) in Spain, movie has had more luck pre-selling abroad, a likely future scenario for many young directors’ offerings from Spain.

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