×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Goteborg: ‘Rams’s Grimur Hakonarson Opens Up About Foreign-Language Oscar Snub

While in Goteborg to present Cannes’ Un-Certain-Regard-winner “Rams,” Icelandic helmer Grimur Hakonarson talked to Variety about the disappointment of not making it into the final foreign-language Oscar list.

“There had been many reports indicating that ‘Rams’ was strongly tipped for a foreign-language nomination so we were surprised that we didn’t make the cut,” said Hakonarson.

“Each year, a number of movies that are presented to be strong contenders don’t make it; last year, Ruben Ostlund was one of them and it’s a strange experience to be in that place today. But maybe they just didn’t like the film that much” added the director.

Handled by Cohen Media Group in the U.S., “Rams” is a tragicomedy about two brothers who who haven’t spoken to each other in 40 years and live side by side in a remote Icelandic farming valley, tending to their sheep stock and prized rams who are considered one of the country’s best. When the entire valley comes under threat because of a lethal sheep disease the brothers are forced together to save what’s dearest to them – their sheep.

Hakonarson suggested that spending invested in Oscar campaigns should be capped to ensure that every movie has an equal chance of getting selected. Although ‘Rams’ is distributed in the U.S. by Cohen Media Group which managed to get ‘Mustang’ into the list, Hakonarson argues his movie didn’t get as much financial support from Iceland than other contenders that were backed by funding boards from big and/or prosperous countries such as France, Germany or even Denmark.

“Competing for an Oscar nomination is not a fair game and I think a cap on campaign spending would create a more even-level playing field, allowing more films from smaller countries with emerging film industries to get some attention,” claimed Hakonarson.

New Europe Film Sales has sold “Rams” to over 40 territories. In France, where ARP Selection is distributing, the movie has been thriving at the box office.

Besides Cannes where it won Un Certain Regard, “Rams” played at Karlovy Vary, Telluride, Toronto and won nods in Palm Springs, Hamptons and Zurich.

Iceland previously had two films nominated for an Oscar: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Children of Nature” in 1992 and Runar Runarsson’s short “The Last Farm” in 2006.

This year’s foreign-language Oscar list comprises Jaco Van Dormael’s “The Brand New Testament,”
Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent,” Tobias Lindholm’s “A War,” Klaus Härö’s The Fencer,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang,” Giulio Ricciarelli’s Labyrinth of Lies,” László Nemes’s Son of Saul,” Paddy Breathnach’s “Viva” and Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Best Picture Contenders

    Examining the Best Picture Race in a Year of Disruption

    In the lead-up to Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” there was some fretting about how a director known for grindhouse exploitation might handle the summer of 1969, when the Manson murders capped a period of social upheaval. While Tarantino does get around to what happened on Cielo Drive on the fateful [...]

  • Vanessa Kirby poses for photographers at

    Vanessa Kirby to Star in Drama 'Pieces of a Woman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Hobbs & Shaw” actress Vanessa Kirby is in negotiations to star in the Bron Studios pic “Pieces of a Woman,” sources tell Variety. Kornél Mundruczó will direct with Kata Wéber penning the script. Reps for Kirby could not be reached for comment. Specific plot details are being kept under wraps, but it is known that [...]

  • Suki WaterhouseSave the Children Centennial Celebration,

    Dark Castle, HanWay and Ingenious Partner on Simon Barrett's 'Séance' Starring Suki Waterhouse

    Dark Castle Entertainment, HanWay Films and Ingenious Media have partnered on horror film “Séance,” directed by Simon Barrett and starring Suki Waterhouse. Set in an all-girls boarding school haunted by a vengeful spirit, Waterhouse (“Assassination Nation,” “The Bad Batch”) plays Camille, a young woman who arrives at the Fairfield Academy following one of the student’s [...]

  • The Black List

    The Black List Reveals India Plans

    The Black List, an online yearly survey that features Hollywood’s most popular unpublished screenplays, is all set to make an imprint in India. The survey’s founder Franklin Leonard revealed this during a masterclass at the ongoing Mumbai film festival, where he is also serving as the head of the India Gold competition jury. “One of [...]

  • China Pavilion at TIFFCOM 2019

    'Still Life' Remake Heads for Japan-China Fund Backing

    A Japanese-language remake of British drama “Still Life” could be the first film to flow from a fund created to support Chinese-Japanese joint productions. The fund is operated by WeF Cultural Investment Media, a company founded earlier this year with the backing of government bodies in Beijing and Qingdao — the Chinese coastal city which [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West to Preview ‘Jesus Is King’ Album and Film in Los Angeles on Wednesday

    On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Kanye West’s delayed “Jesus Is King” album will be released on Friday along with a companion IMAX film, the rapper will preview both projects at the Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, it was announced this morning. Tickets for the “Jesus Is King Album & Film Experience” will be [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content