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Oscars: Nine Films Advance in Foreign-Language Race

Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the foreign-language film category for the 89th Academy Awards.

The shortlisted films, selected from a record 85 submissions, are:

Australia, “Tanna” — directors Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Canada, “It’s Only the End of the World” — director Xavier Dolan
Denmark, “Land of Mine” — director Martin Zandvliet
Germany, “Toni Erdmann” — director Maren Ade
Iran, “The Salesman” — director Asghar Farhadi
Norway, “The King’s Choice” — director Erik Poppe
Russia, “Paradise” — director Andrei Konchalovsky
Sweden, “A Man Called Ove” — director Hannes Holm
Switzerland, “My Life as a Zucchini” — director Claude Barras

“Toni Erdmann” scored a clean sweep at the European Film Awards on Dec. 10, winning in each of its categories: Best European Film, Director, Actor (Peter Simonischek), Actress (Sandra Huller) and Screenplay.

Dolan’s family drama “It’s Only the End of the World,” won the Cannes Grand Prix this year. Farhadi’s “The Salesman,” won the Best Actor and Screenplay trophies at Cannes. Farhadi’s “A Separation” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, the first Iranian film to do so. “

Tanna,” a romance set on a South Pacific island, won the Audience Award Pietro Barzisa at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. “The King’s Choice” is based on the refusal of Norway’s King Haakon VII to surrender Norway to Nazi Germany.

“A Man Called Ove,” starring Rolf Lassgard as a depressed misanthrope whose life is changed when an immigrant family moves in next door, grossed more than $20 million at the Swedish box office. “Land of Mine,” which opened Toronto’s competitive Platform section, follows a group of young German POWs forced to de-mine Danish beaches after the Axis defeat. It won the cinematography award for Camilla Hjelm Knudsen at the European Film Awards.

“My Life as a Zucchini” is a stop-motion animated film that screened in the Directors Fortnight section of Cannes and recently received three Annie nominations. Set in an orphanage, it won the animated film award at the European Film Awards and received a Golden Globe nod this week.

“Paradise” director Konchalovsky won the Silver Lion for Best Director at Venice. The film explores the relationship between an aristocratic concentration camp inmate and an SS officer.

Notable exclusions included France’s thriller “Elle,” directed by Paul Verhoven with Isabelle Huppert starring;  Spain’s “Julieta,” directed by Pedro Almodovar; Chile’s “Neruda,” directed by Pablo Larrain and starring Gael Garcia Bernal; and Italy’s refugee documentary “Fire at Sea,” directed by Gianfranco Rosi and winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin.

Six of the nine films were selected by the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences’ Phase I committee,  consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, after screening the submissions in between mid-October and December 12.  The group’s top six choices were augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee.

The list will be cut to five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and London during Jan. 13-15, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

Nominations for the 89th Oscars will be announced on Jan. 24. The ceremonies will be held on Feb. 26 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Hungary’s “Son of Saul” won the Oscar in the category this year.

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