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Slovakia, Montenegro Pick Foreign-Language Oscar Entries

Slovakia and Montenegro are the latest countries to submit films for consideration for the foreign-language Oscar.

Marko Skop’s “Eva Nova” (pictured) has been selected by the Slovak Television and Film Academy as the country’s entrant. “Eva Nova” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015, where it won the International Critics (FIPRESCI) Discovery Award. It then went on to win five awards, including best film, at the Slovak Film Awards in April. It was selected for Oscar submission from a long list of 14 films.

Written and directed by Skop, the film tells the story of a recovering alcoholic, formerly a famous actress, who will do anything to regain the love of the person she hurt the most, her estranged son. It marks Skop’s move into fictional drama from his work as a documentary filmmaker.

Montenegro has selected Ivan Marinovic’s debut feature “The Black Pin” as its Oscar contender. Written and directed by Marinovic, the comedy drama centers on a misanthropic Orthodox priest who returns home to nurse his dementia-afflicted mother but finds himself in conflict with the superstitious villagers who want to chase him away. The film premiered at the Sarajevo International Film Festival in August.

“The Black Pin” marks the fourth year that Montenegro has entered a film into the Oscars foreign language race. The country has yet to receive a nomination.

Slovakia’s neighbor, the Czech Republic, announced late last week that its entry for the foreign-language Oscar would be Petr Zelenka’s dark comedy “Lost in Munich.” Written and directed by Zelenka, the film tells the story of a 90-year-old parrot that once belonged to the French prime minister responsible for signing the 1938 Munich Treaty, returning to Prague to give its account of historic events only to be kidnapped by a journalist in the midst of a midlife crisis, setting off a diplomatic scandal.

“Lost in Munich” saw its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last year. It lost out in the best film category at the local Czech Lion Awards, in March, to Jan Prusinovsky’s “The Snake Brothers,” but claimed the prize for best screenplay.

The Czech Republic has seen a flurry of new state and local funding activity this week. Prague’s city council approved the establishment of a new film fund to support feature films intended for international distribution and television movies and series intended for broadcast in foreign markets that use the Czech capital as a location in its own right rather than as a stand-in for another city. The intention of the CZK 10 million ($412,500) film fund is to support positive representations of the city.

“Prague has always attracted foreign production for its ability to stand in for more expensive sister cities such as Paris or London. The good news is that…more often she is playing herself,” says Ludmila Claussova, head of the Czech Film Commission, citing the recent production of the city’s use in Bollywood road movie “The Ring” starring Shah Rukh Khan, which is set for release in summer 2017.

The Czech State Cinematography Fund announced Wednesday that it would provide grants to nine minority co-productions at a total value of CZK 19.95 million ($823,000). Co-productions with France, Russia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia were among the recipients, which were chosen from 18 submitted projects. It also announced CZK 7.71 million ($318,100) in development support for 15 local projects considered to have international potential.

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