×

Will One of Africa’s Eight Submitted Films Bring Home Its Third Oscar in Nearly 50 Years?

For the second straight year, a record eight African films were submitted to the Academy for consideration, vying for a chance to bring home just the third statue for the continent in the nearly 50 years since Costa-Gavras won for the Algerian-French political thriller “Z.”

This year’s submissions aren’t likely to get the buzz of 2017 hopefuls “Felicité,” which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize in Berlin for Franco-Senegalese helmer Alain Gomis, or fest darling “The Wound,” by South Africa’s John Trengove. Both were shortlisted for the Oscar but failed to make the final cut.

Related Content Critical Analysis: Prior Nominees Canada and Australia

Even as recent years have showcased a wealth of burgeoning talent in sub-Saharan Africa, moviemaking on the continent remains a challenge, and few countries find the resources to produce Oscar-worthy candidates year after year. Tellingly, it took funding from five countries to power “Felicité” to its surprise run last year, and it was still the first foreign-language submission for Senegal — a nation that birthed the founding father of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene.

South Africa has had some success in recent years — Oliver Schmitz’s township drama “Life, Above All” was also shortlisted in 2010 — and this year will try its luck with Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Western-style epic “Sew the Winter to My Skin.” The movie, which world-premiered in Toronto, was inspired by the story of the mid-century outlaw John Kepe, whose Robin Hood-style exploits made him a folk hero to many black South Africans and a public enemy in the eyes of the apartheid government. The film will look to join previous South African nominee “Yesterday” (2004) and Oscar winner “Tsotsi” (2005).

Kenya rarely gets mentioned as a filmmaking powerhouse, but the East African nation has had a consistent run at Oscar glory thanks to the decade-long collaboration between Tom Tykwer’s Kenyan shingle One Fine Day Films and Kenya’s Ginger Ink.

The duo’s third Oscar hopeful, Likarion Wainana’s “Supa Modo,” is the uplifting tale of a terminally ill girl whose village comes together to fulfill her dreams of becoming a superhero.

While feel-good films rarely make the Academy’s cut, the movie has had a strong festival run since it world premiered in the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus program.

Two newcomers also joined the foreign-language race this year. With the country’s first submission, “The Road to Sunrise,” Malawi’s Shemu Joyah tells the story of two suffering prostitutes who turn to each other for redemption, after one of the women stabs a client dead while fending off an attack.

Another first-time hopeful, from Niger, spins a more hopeful tale of modern African womanhood.

In “The Wedding Ring,” Rahmatou Keita tells the story of a young princess who returns to Niger after leaving behind the suitor she met in Paris. While waiting for his marriage proposal, she shares stories of love and loss with the women around her in a lyrical tribute to the Sahel region.

The odds are long for both first-timers. But for two of the world’s poorest countries, entering the Oscar fray is a victory in its own right.

More Film

  • Malcolm D Lee Uptown Saturday Night

    'Girls Trip' Director Malcolm D. Lee Boards 'Space Jam 2'

    “Girls Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee is replacing Terence Nance as director of “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James, for Warner Bros. and James’ SpringHill Entertainment. The departure of Nance, creator of the HBO show “Random Acts of Flyness,” was due to differing visions between Nance and the producers for “Space Jam 2.” Warner Bros. has set [...]

  • Joker movie

    With 'Ad Astra,' 'Joker' Likely, Venice Set for Strong Showing by U.S., Bolstered by Streamers

    Brad Pitt space odyssey “Ad Astra,” Noah Baumbach’s untitled new project, “Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Harper’s “The Aeronauts,” Fernando Meirelles’ “The Pope,” the new “Rambo” installment, and heist thriller “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” starring Mick Jagger as a reclusive art dealer, all look bound for the Venice Film Festival, sources tell Variety. The fest [...]

  • CGV's Massive Imax Screen Order Shows

    CGV's Massive Imax Screen Order Shows Optimism for Chinese Exhibition

    Korean cinema giant CGV has signed a deal with Imax to install a further 40 giant screens in movie theaters in China. The deal suggests that China’s multiplex building boom still has some way to run, and that at least one Korean company is still willing to invest in China, despite China’s currently boycott of [...]

  • BAFTA headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London

    BAFTA Undertakes Major Renovation of Its London Headquarters

    BAFTA has undertaken a major renovation of its London headquarters that will double the building’s capacity and increase space devoted to the British academy’s programs to promote skills training and new talent. Work has already begun on the $31 million overhaul, which is expected to take two years. In the interim, BAFTA will relocate its [...]

  • Andhadhun

    Booming Digital Lifts Eros Indian Film Distribution Giant

    Eros International, India’s largest and most controversial film distributor, says that its digital revenues now outstrip conventional theatrical and syndication revenues. Its Eros Now streaming platform claims 18.8 million paying subscribers. The New York-listed company reported annual results that were distorted by multiple adjustments to presentation. Reported revenues in the year to end of March [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Second Huayi Brothers Film Is Canceled as Company's Losses Mount

    Still reeling from the cancellation of the theatrical release of its blockbuster “The Eight Hundred,” production studio Huayi Brothers has been hit with another setback: Its comedy “The Last Wish” has also been quietly pulled from China’s summer lineup. Both films have fallen afoul of China’s increasingly heavy-handed censors. The unwelcome development comes as Huayi [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content