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Oscars: Sweden Selects Ali Abbasi’s ‘Border’ as Foreign Language Entry

Sweden has selected Ali Abbasi’s Cannes winner “Border” as its entry for best foreign-language film at this year’s 91st Academy Awards. The Swedish Film Institute announced the choice Tuesday.

Abbasi said he was “overwhelmed” that his film had been selected. “I thought it was impossible to even get to Cannes, but as the film has grown and now is being screened at festivals all over the world, the Oscars [don’t] seem so far away all of a sudden,” said Abbasi, who was born in Iran and educated in Denmark.

The film was chosen by the seven members of the Swedish Oscar Committee, which was presided over by Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute.

Border” saw its world premiere in the Un Certain Regard program at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May, where it went on to win the section’s top prize. It follows a customs officer (Eva Melander), with an extraordinary sense of smell, who develops a strange attraction to a suspect she’s investigating, leading to revelations that call into question her entire existence.

The film was co-written by Abbasi with Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on a short story by Lindqvist. It was produced by Nina Bisgaard, Piodor Gustafsson and Petra Jönsson.

The Swedish-Danish co-production was produced by Meta Film Stockholm and Black Spark & Kärnfilm AB in co-production with Meta Film Denmark together with Film i Väst, SVT and Copenhagen Filmfund. Additional financial support came from Eurimages, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, the Danish Film Institute and the Swedish Film Institute.

“Border” is set to see its North American premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema program of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival in September. Neon has U.S. rights.

A Swedish film has been nominated for best foreign-language film Oscar on 16 occasions, winning the award three times with “The Virgin Spring” in 1960, “Through a Glass Darkly” the following year, and “Fanny and Alexander” in 1983 – all directed by Ingmar Bergman. Sweden’s entry has reached the nominations in both of the last two years, with Hannes Holm’s “A Man Called Ove” losing out to Iranian entry “The Salesman” in 2016 and Ruben Ostlund’s “The Square” missing out last year to Chilean entry “A Fantastic Woman.”

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22, 2019. The ceremony will take place Feb. 24, 2019.

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