Corneliu Porumboiu’s “The Whistlers,” which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, has been selected as Romania’s official Oscar entry in the international feature film category.
Magnolia Pictures has U.S. distribution rights to the film. The distributor has had much success in the category, having distributed nominees in five of the last seven years, including back-to-back Palme d’Or-winners “The Square” (2017) and “Shoplifters” (2018).
In “The Whistlers,” not everything is as it seems for Cristi (played by Vlad Ivanov of “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”), a police inspector in Bucharest who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception. A trip to the Canary Islands to learn a secret whistling language might just be what they need to pull it off.
“The Whistlers” is the second of Porumboiu’s features to be Romania’s Oscar entry, following “Police, Adjective” (2009), winner of the Un Certain Regard jury and FIPRESCI prizes at Cannes.
Romania has only once reached the Oscar shortlist in the international feature film category, previously known as best foreign-language film, for Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills” (2012), and has never before been Oscar nominated. Following the snub of Mungiu’s Palme d’Or-winning film “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (2007), the Academy altered its voting procedures to allow the executive committee to rectify any glaring omissions by adding three selections to the initial list of shortlisted films.
“The Whistlers” will next screen at the Toronto Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and the New York Film Festival. Magnolia will release the film theatrically on Feb. 28 with a rollout to follow.