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China Sends ‘Back to 1942’ on Oscar Trail

Robbins, Brody feature in Chinese famine drama

BUSAN — China is to send “Back To 1942” as its contender for the foreign-language Academy Awards campaign.

The decision was made after a vote within the Film Bureau on Sept. 29, but had not previously been announced due to China’s prolonged National Day holiday week.

The famine drama is set during a particularly trying period of Chinese history, when several provinces were suffering extreme drought, causing famine, exodus and social upheaval, while at the same time the country was being attacked by Japanese forces.

The film features Adrien Brody as a U.S. war reporter and Tim Robbins as a priest alongside a huge ensemble Chinese cast including Zhang Hanyu, Chen Daoming, Xu Fan and Zhang Guoli.

It was directed by Feng Xiaogang and produced by Huayi Brothers on a $35 million budget. It premiered at the Rome festival in November last year and went on commercial release later that month, scoring $59.1 million (RMB363 million). Given the mega budget and the strong commercial track record of Feng, that total meant the film was considered a modest flop.

In North America it was released by China Lion.

“1942” is the second film by Feng to be named as China’s Oscar contender, after “Aftershock” was forwarded in 2010.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is due today to publish its full list of eligible foreign language submissions.

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