With the deadline for submission fast approaching, this week has seen a host of new entrants for this year’s best foreign language film Oscar from European and Middle East markets. New submissions from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Kosovo, Luxembourg and Montenegro will all compete for a slot amongst the five nominees for the Academy Award.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has selected Aida Begic’s drama “Never Leave Me” as its entry. The film, which is a Bosnia-Turkey co-production, tells the story of three Syrian boys living a difficult as refugees is a magical, mythical Turkish city. Bosnia has only seen one previous entry go through to be nominated with Danis Tanovic’s 2001 film “No Man’s Land,” which also went on to win.
Croatia will be represented by Ivan Salaj’s political comedy drama “The Eighth Commissioner.” It tells the story of an ambitious politician, caught up in a scandal and sent to an isolated island to keep him out of the public eye, who is tasked with organizing local elections – something his seven predecessors have failed to achieve. Croatia has yet to be nominated in the best foreign language film category at the Oscars.
Olmo Omerzu’s road-trip comedy “Winter Flies” (pictured) will fly the flag for Czech Republic. The story follows two mischievous adolescent boys who embark on a journey of misadventure and self-discovery. The Czech-Slovenian-Polish-Slovak co-production saw Omerzu take home the best director prize at this year’s Karlovy Vary Intl Film Festival, where it saw its world premiere in July. Czech Republic has been nominated three times for the foreign language Academy Award, winning in 1996 with Jan Sverak’s “Kolya.”
Egypt is pinning its hopes for a first nomination in the category on Abu Bakr Shawky’s “Yomeddine.” The film saw its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it picked up the Francois Chalaid Award – a prize dedicated to the values of journalism. “Yomeddine” tells the story of a Coptic leper and his orphaned apprentice who leave the confines of their leper colony for the first time to venture on a journey across Egypt in search of any remaining family.
Dora Masklavanou’s period drama “Polyxeni” will compete for Greece. The film, which is written and directed by Masklavanou, tells the story of an orphan 12-year-old girl in 1955, separated from her younger brother, who embarks on a new life when she is adopted by a prominent couple, unaware of devious plans targeting her large inheritance. Greece has been nominated five times for best foreign language film but has yet to win. The country’s most recent nomination came in 2010 with Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Dogtooth,” which lost out to Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World” from Denmark.
Kosovo has chosen Blerta Zeqiri’s debut feature “The Marriage” as its Oscar entry for 2018. The romantic drama sees a bride unaware that the man she is about to marry is still in love with is best friend. It marks only the fifth year Kosovo has entered the race for an Academy Award, and the first time the country has chosen a film from a female filmmaker. Kosovo has yet to secure a nomination.
Luxembourg’s entry will be “Gutland,” a surreal thriller about a German thief who flees to a small village in Luxembourg only to discover the locals have secrets of their own. Directed by Govinda Van Maele, it stars Fredrick Lau and “Phantom Thread” star Vicky Krieps. Luxembourg has not previously been nominated in the foreign language Oscar category.
Montenegro will vie for its first nomination with Gojko Berkuljan’s “Iskra.” The thriller follows a retired detective (Mirko Vlahovic) whose life is interrupted when his daughter (Jelena Simic) disappears and his investigation leads him back to his past. It marks only the fifth time Montenegro has competed in the category. It did not submit a film last year.
To date 47 countries have submitted a film for consideration for this year’s best foreign language film category. In 2017, 92 countries entered films with Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman” winning the Oscar ahead of nominated titles from Hungary, Lebanon, Russia and Sweden.
Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22, 2019. The ceremony will take place Feb. 24, 2019.