Just days after I filed my annual story on this year’s race for the Foreign-Language Oscar — “The Foreign Language Oscar Race: Where (Almost) Anything Can Happen” — one of the frontrunners has been axed by AMPAS. According to reports, Israel’s entry “The Band’s Visit” was disqualified for containing too much English-language dialogue.
Last week, Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker told me that he wasn’t worried about the film’s eligibility. “It is keeping in a long tradition of foreign language films that have some English in them,” he said. “Look at ‘No Man’s Land’; look at ‘Four Days in September.'” Apparently, AMPAS has disagreed. Though the Israelis will appeal the decision — and no doubt Barker will be making some calls, as well — it looks like “Band’s Visit” is the first major casaulty of AMPAS’s hard-nosed regulators.