Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

The Mover
Courtesy of Latvian National Film Centre

Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category.

Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as its entry for the award. It is the 12th time Latvia has submitted an entry. Director Davis Simanis Jr.’s film was created to mark Latvia centennial celebrations and was chosen by a seven-person panel on behalf of Latvia’s National Film Center.

Produced by Mistrus Media, “The Mover” tells the story of Zanis Lipke, a blue-collar worker honored for his heroic deeds during World War II. Despite his family’s hardship under German and Soviet occupations, Lipke embarked on a covert operation to save local Jews from Nazi persecution and certain death, moving them from the Riga ghetto to an underground bunker hidden on his property. “The Mover” is documentary filmmaker Simanis’ second narrative feature, following 2016’s “Exiled.”

“The Mover” joins Lithuanian documentary “Bridges of Time” and Estonian drama “Truth and Justice” among the Baltic submissions for the International Feature Film award. “Bridges of Time” is a Latvian co-production and also a Latvian Centenary film, co-directed by Latvia’s Kristine Briede alongside Lithuania’s Audrius Stonys.

Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica have all submitted films from first-time filmmakers. Kyrgyzstan has chosen Bekzat Pirmatov’s drama “Aurora,” which follows the events of one day in a sanatorium on the shores of a mountain lake in Central Asia. The country is also making its 12th attempt at a nomination.

Montenegro has selected Andro Martinovic’s triptych “Neverending Past” as its entry. The feature debut takes place across three different time periods to tell a story about fathers who find themselves in borderline situations. It is the sixth time Montenegro has submitted an entry for the award.

Costa Rica has chosen Antonella Sudasassi’s “The Awakening of the Ants.” The drama, which is a co-production with Spain, tells the story of a 28-year-old seamstress – a good mother, wife and daughter-in-law – who is forced into an unavoidable rebellion following pressure from her family to have another child. The film marks Costa Rica’s eighth time submitting an entry for the award.

The five eventual nominees for the International Feature Film award will be announced with those in other categories on Jan. 13, 2020. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held Feb. 9, 2020.