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Georgia Selects ‘Scary Mother’ for Foreign-Language Oscar Race

Ana Urushadze’s acclaimed drama “Scary Mother” has capped a busy month by being named Georgia’s selection for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards. The film world-premiered Aug. 3 at the 70th Locarno Film Festival, where it won the best first feature and Youth Jury awards.

It then went on to win best film at the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival on Aug. 17. The Georgian-language production, a co-production between Georgia and Estonia, was written and directed by Urushadze.

Scary Mother” (pictured) stars Nata Murvanidze as a 50-year-old housewife struggling to choose between her family life and a passion for writing which she has suppressed for years. Deciding to follow her passion, she plunges into writing, sacrificing herself mentally and physically. The film is produced by Lasha Khalvashi, Tinatin Kajrislvili and Ivo Felt. London- and Tbilisi-based Alief LLC is handling international sales.

The film was chosen for Oscar submission by the Georgian National Film Center. Georgia has submitted films for consideration for the best foreign-language film Academy Award in 15 previous years. Its only nomination to date came with its first submission, “A Chef in Love,” in 1996.

The Ukrainian and Palestinian entries were also announced this week. Ukraine’s Oscar committee has selected Valentyn Vasyanovych’s “Black Level,” a drama about a wedding photographer surrounded by happy people celebrating special moments in their lives while he is losing everything he used to cherish. “Black Level” is written, directed and produced by Vasyanovych. It opened in cinemas in Ukraine on Thursday. The country has yet to receive an Oscar nomination in the best foreign-language film category.

This year’s Palestinian Oscar entry will be Annemarie Jacir’s “Wajib.” The family drama, which also saw its world premiere in Locarno where it won a special prize for best film, tells the story of a father and his estranged son who must put aside their differences and come together to hand-deliver his daughter’s wedding invitations, a Palestinian tradition. The film was announced Thursday as a selection in the official competition lineup of the BFI London Film Festival. It is produced by Ossama Bawardi. Pyramide Films is handling international sales.

Wajib,” Jacir’s third feature, also marks the director’s third time as the official Palestinian entrant for the foreign-language Oscar. “Paradise Now” in 2005 and “Omar” in 2013, both directed by Hany Abu-Assad, received nominations.

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 23, 2018. The ceremony takes place March 4.

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