The complete list of submissions for the nomination for Best Foreign Language Academy Award, has been announced. 63 countries’ selections have been accepted. Last year there were 65 selections. I have added the international sales agents and when there is one, the U.S. distributor. The Female Factor: 8 of 63 films or 13%. Last year, of the 65 films submitted, 9 were directed by women — that’s 14%. The films by women are Leticia Tonos’ Love Child ♀ (the Dominican Republic), Valerie Donzelli’s Declaration of War ♀ (France), Ann Hui’s A Simple Life ♀ (Hong Kong), Juanita Wilson’s As If I Am Not There ♀ (Ireland), Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now? ♀ (Lebanon), Maria Peters’ Sonny Boy ♀ (the Netherlands), Anne Sewitzky’s Happy, Happy (Norway) ♀ and Pernilla August’s Beyond ♀ (Sweden).
The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25, 2012.
Thank you to The Wrap for its commentary on the titles, quoted here and the trailers as posted here.
Pina will be screened for voters in 3D, the first such screening in the category’s history; it is also the first time a documentary has been submitted as a country’s Best Foreign Language film. It is also competing in the Best Documentary Feature category, but in that category, first-round voters will view it on 2D screener DVDs.
As usual, the U.S. company with the strongest presence in the field is Sony Pictures Classics, which currently has the rights to four of the strongest contenders and likeliest nominees: Poland’s In Darkness, Israel’s Footnote, Iran’s A Separation and Lebanon’s Where Do We Go Now?
Volunteer members of the Academy, divided into four color-coded groups, will begin screening the submissions on Friday at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. After each screening, voters will score each film on a scale of six-to-10. They’ll have access to their scoresheets if they later reconsider and want to change their scores.Once the screenings end in mid January and the six highest-scoring films are determined, an executive committee will meet and add three more films to the list to create a shortlist of nine semi-finalists. Two select second-round committees will then view the nine films over a three-day period; their votes will determine the five nominees.
Albania – Albania immediately submitted a substitute: Amnesty (French subtitled Trailer) when the original entry The Forgiveness of Blood, directed by Joshua Marston. U.S.-Albania-Denmark-Italy. ISA Fandango Portobello. U.S. Sundance Selects was disqualified by the Academy because too much of its creative team, including American director Joshua Marston, came from outside the country. The same happened some years ago with Colombia’s Maria Full of Grace, also directed by Joshua Marston. ISA: Arizona Films
Argentina – Aballay, directed by Fernando Spiner.
Agentina, which won the Oscar two years ago for The Secret in Their Eyes, has opted for a violent Western about a young boy who grows up to seek revenge on the gauchos who murdered his family. The film is reportedly both brutal and elliptical, focused on a stark landscape and a grim and amoral society ruled by force. It is based on a short story written by Antonio di Benedetto while in prison.
Trailer (no subtitles), ISA: KWA
Austria – Breathing, directed by Karl Markovics. The debut feature from Markovics was named the best European film in the Directors’ Fortnight competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where the jury called it “a dark but positive story that is full of life, sparked by excellent performances.” The film deals with a young man, newly released from prison, who works in the morgue in Vienna and is searching for his mother. Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Films Distribution.
Belgium – Bullhead, directed by Michaël R. Roskam. A 2011 selection of the Berlin International Film Festival, this crime drama starring Matthias Schoenaerts follows a cattle farmer who becomes involved with an underworld trafficker in growth hormone. Assassination, intrigue and revenge ensue. Trailer (no English subtitles) . ISA: Celluloid Dreams.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Belvedere, directed by Ahmed Imamović The action takes place in a refugee camp 15 years after the Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys. The main character, played by Sadzida Setic, is a woman who hasn’t stopped searching for the remains of her husband and son, even as she continues to care for other family members who are more obsessed with getting on reality television shows.
Trailer (no subtitles) ISA & U.S. Global Film Initiative
Brazil – Tropa de Elite 2 (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within), directed by José Padilha Set in a world of corrupt police, crooked politicians, paramilitary groups and slums rife with drug-dealing, the film has set box-office records in its homeland, and for the most part drawn positive reviews. But as an action movie and a sequel to a film not likely to have been seen by many voters, it may have a tough go of it with the Academy. Trailer. ISA: IM Global. U.S. New Video
Bulgaria – Tilt, directed by Viktor Chouchkov. A commercial success in Bulgaria, Chouchkov’s drama centers on a group of friends who dream of opening their own bar; the film turns into a risky romance, set against the backdrop of political and social changes sweeping Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. Trailer (no subtitles)
Canada – Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau. Named Best Canadian Feature in the audience awards at the Toronto Film Festival, the film deals with an Algerian refugee who becomes an elementary school teacher to a class whose previous teacher had committed suicide. Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Films Distribution U.S: Music Box Films
Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Flardeau
Chile – Violeta Went to Heaven, directed by Andres Wood. Wood has created a personal, biographical look at Violeta Parra, a Chilean folksinger, artist and activist who the director has compared to the country’s Edith Piaf or Bob Dylan. Francisca Gavilan plays the iconic Chilean performer, who wrote the oft-recorded song “Gracias a la Vida” before committing suicide at the age of 49. Trailer (no subtitles)
China – Flowers of War, directed by Zhang Yimou. China has chosen an entry that’s guaranteed to be high-profile both because of the man behind the camera, “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Hero” director Zhang Yimou, and because of its star, recent Oscar winner Christian Bale. The film deals with the 1937 occupation of Nanking by the Japanese army, with Bale as an American who takes refuge in a cathedral with a group of schoolgirls and courtesans. ISA: FilmNation
Colombia – The Colors of the Mountain, directed by Carlos César Arbeláez. Previously a documentary filmmaker, Arbelaez makes his narrative feature debut with a drama set in the highlands of Colombia, where indigenous locals live in a picturesque setting but are constantly asked to choose sides between the paramilitary troops and guerilla rebels who are fighting in their vicinity. Trailer (subtitled)
Croatia – 72 Days, directed by Danilo Serbedzija. The director’s father, noted Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija, stars in this black comedy about a rural family who lives off a deceased grandfather’s U.S. military pension, and spends much of the time feuding with their neighbors and with each other. The film won two acting awards, as well as the audience award, at last year’s Pula Film Festival in Croatia.
Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Croatian Audiovisual Center
Cuba – Habanastation, directed by Ian Padron. The first feature from 35-year-old director Padron, Habanastation uses the story of a couple of kids in Havana – one of them rich, the other poor – to showcase the glaring inequalities that were supposed to have been eradicated 50 years ago. Nick Miroff in the GlobalPost explains the film’s box-office success in its home country: “It wins over audiences and pushes boundaries by mocking the shortcomings and empty sloganeering of the state, while ultimately affirming the socialist values of Castro’s revolution.” Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: ICAIC
Czech Republic – Alois Nebel, directed by Tomás Lunák. A black-and-white film that combines live action with animation through the use of rotoscoping, “Alois Nebel” is based on a cult comic-book trilogy about a railway dispatcher in a small mountain town who suffers from hallucinations in which the present mixes with the dark history of post-World War II Czechoslovakia. Director Lunak is making his feature film debut after a career in advertisements, shorts and music videos. Trailer (subtitled). ISA: The Match Factory
Denmark – SuperClásico, directed by Ole Christian Madsen. Romantic comedies aren’t the usual fare in this category, and they’re not the usual fare for veteran Danish director Madsen (“Kira’s Reason — A Love Story,” “Flame & Citron”). Anders Berthelsen plays a Copenhagen wine merchant who travels to Argentina in an attempt to win back his ex-wife (Paprika Steen), who has left him for a famous soccer player. Trailer (subtitled), ISA: The Match Factory
Dominican Republic – Love Child, directed by Leticia Tonos. Tonos is one of an unusually large number of female directors with films in contention this year. Her drama follows a teenage girl who tracks down the father she’s never known after her single mother is killed in an accident. Trailer (with subtitles). ISA: Kevin Williams Associates
Egypt: “Lust“, Director: Khaled El Hagar
Director Khaled El Hagar stirred up controversy in Egypt with his previous film, “Stolen Kisses,” which came under fire for what some saw as “gratuitous kisses.” His follow-up may not escape the moral police either, dealing as it does with a woman and her daughters living in an alley in Alexandria – and examining, the filmmaker says, the sexual repression in that environment. The drama won the Golden Pyramid award for the best film in the international competition at last December’s Cairo International Film Festival.
Estonia: “Letters to Angel“, Director: Sulev Keedus
A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and a convert to Islam, finds himself caught between cultures when he returns to his home town and searches for his long-lost daughter. Keedus, a screenwriter making his feature directing debut, has said that he first thought of making a film on the subject 30 years ago, when he was drafted into the army after college.
Trailer (subtitled) ISA: Estonian Film Fund
Finland – Le Havre, directed by Aki Kaurismaki. The new film from acclaimed international auteur Kaurismaki, which has been playing to raves on the festival circuit, deals with an elderly shoe shiner who becomes friends with a teenage illegal immigrant. The film blends drama with deadpan comedy and melodrama reminiscent of French films from the ’60s and ’70s.
Trailer (subtitled). ISA: The Match Factory. U.S.: Janus Films
France – Declaration of War, directed by Valérie Donzelli ♀. Valerie Donzelli both directed Declaration of War and starred in it as half of a young couple who are fighting to save their young son, who’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor. What gives the film extra resonance is that Donzelli and her leading man Jeremie Elkaim are essentially telling their own story: partners off the screen, they are parents of a boy whose battle against a tumor inspired the film. Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Wild Bunch
Georgia: “Chantrapas“, Director: Otar Iosseliani
The story of a filmmaker torn between state censorship (in his homeland of Georgia) and box-office pressures (in France, where he goes expecting freedom), Iosseliani’s partly autobiographical satire has drawn mixed reviews in its limited showings. It did, however, win a Special Jury Award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival in Argentina.
Germany – Pina, directed by Wim Wenders. Documentaries are usually a tough sell to the Oscar foreign-language committee, but Wenders has become one of Germany’s best-known filmmakers over a 40-plus-year career that includes Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas and the Oscar doc nominee Buena Vista Social Club. His documentary about the late dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, a longtime friend, mixes 3D footage of Bausch’s dancers with talking-head testimonials to the dance icon. English trailer ISA: Hanway Films, U.S: Sundance Selects
Greece – Attenberg, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari ♀. Last year Greece got the Oscar race’s strangest and most controversial nomination with Dogtooth, and the country appears to have gone back to the same well with a film produced by Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos and directed by Dogtooth producer Tsangari. Guy Lodge calls it Dogtooth-lite: in addition to common themes of sexual discover and youth alienation, the films share a similar brooding, deadpan humor.” Trailer (subtitled), ISA: The Match Factory
Hong Kong – A Simple Life, directed by Ann Hui ♀. It’s no doubt unfair to call A Simple Life the Hong Kong version of The Help – but like that hit film, Ann Hui’s drama focuses on the bond between a family and a lifelong domestic employee who has essentially raised her employers’ child. Lead actress Deanie Ip won the Best-Actress award at the recent Venice Film Festival, while Hong Kong star Andy Lau plays the grown man who must come to the aid of the woman who raised him. Trailer (subtitled), ISA: Distribution Workshop
Hungary – The Turin Horse, directed by Bela Tarr. Inspired by an incident from the life of Nietzsche (who does not appear in the film), “The Turin Horse” is a slow, measured examination of the daily life of the driver of a horse-drawn transom cab. Shot in long, uninterrupted takes, the two-and-a-half-hour film might be one of the most critically-admired of the foreign-language submissions, but its bleakness and spare, measured pace make it the kind of austere acquired taste not often appreciated by Academy voters. Trailer (no dialogue). ISA: Films Boutique, U.S: Cinema Guild
Iceland – Volcano, directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson. Set in Reykjavik, the film follows a longtime school superintendent who retires to a life in which he has seemingly uneasy relationships with his wife and his two grown children. When calamity strikes, though, the man gradually finds a new purpose in life. Runarsson was nominated for The Last Farm, a live-action short from 2005. Trailer (subtitled) ISA: trust Nordisk
India – Adaminte Makan Abu, directed by Salim Ahamed. First-time director Ahamed’s family drama focuses on an aging, struggling Muslim perfume salesman whose goal is to make the Hajj pilgrimage. At India’s National Film Awards in 2010, the Malayalam-language drama won four awards, including Best Film and Best Actor for Salim Kumar. Trailer (no subtitles)
Indonesia: “Under the Protection of Ka’Bah”, Director: Hanny Saputra
Billed as the biggest film ever made in Indonesia, this love story is set in the 1920s and deals with the romance between a rich girl and a poor boy whose mother works for her family. Judging by the trailer, it’s big and grand and sweeping.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Iran – A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi. A middle-class man is forced to find help in caring for his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father after his wife leaves him. The film won the top award, the Golden Bear, at February’s Berlin International Film Festival, as well as separate honors for its male and female ensemble casts. Trailer (subtitled)
. ISA: Memento U.S. Sony Pictures Classics
Ireland – As If I Am Not There, directed by Juanita Wilson ♀. Though made by Irish filmmakers, the film is set in Bosnia and is primarily in the Serbo-Croatian language. Based on a book by Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic, it deals with a Sarajevo woman who is imprisoned during the war and repeated raped by soldiers.
Trailer (no dialogue). ISA: Albany Sales International
Israel – Footnote, directed by Joseph Cedar. The film played extremely well both in Cannes and in Toronto, deals with the rivalry between a father and son, both of whom are Talmud professors in Jerusalem. The film won the Ophir, Israel’s version of the Oscar, as well as the Palme d’Or for screenwriting at Cannes; director Cedar’s “Beaufort” won an Oscar nomination in this category in 2007.
Trailer (subtitled). ISA: Westend. U.S. Sony Pictures Classics
Italy: Terraferma, Director: Emanuele Crialese
Italy may have won more Foreign-Language Oscars than any other country, but the country has been on a cold streak lately — and its recent failure to be nominated for the critical favorite “Gommorah” and the crowd-pleasing “The First Beautiful Thing” were no doubt perplexing. This year’s entry deals with a common theme in the category, immigratioin, as an Italian fishing family rescues a group of shipwrecked illegal immigrants from North Africa.
Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Elle Driver
Japan – Postcard, directed by Kaneto Shindō. The film deals with World War II from the Japanese point of view, through the eyes of a young wife whose husband is killed in the fighting, and the comrade who was one of only six survivors in a unit of 100 men. It is a personal story for Kaneto Shindo, who will turn 100 less than two months after next year’s Oscar ceremony, and who has said this film is his last. News feature (includes clips, no subtitles)
Kazakhstan: Returning to the ‘A’, directed by Egor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky
Lebanon – Where Do We Go Now?, directed by Nadine Labaki ♀. Set in a remote Lebanese village, the film centers on a group of women who use a variety of ruses schemes (including hiring Ukranian strippers) to distract their men from the religious tensions that threaten to disrupt the village’s cordial relationships between its Christians and Muslims. In a category where the vast majority of nominees are serious dramas, submitting a comedy-and-music-spiked look at Middle East tension might be a dangerous strategy – but the film beat far higher-profile entries to win the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Trailer (subtitled) ISA: Pathe. U.S.: Sony Pictures Classics
Lithuania – Back to Your Arms, directed by Kristijonas Vildžiūnas. Lithuania’s is yet another entry with its roots in World War II – in this case, it deals with a father and daughter who are separated in that war and who try to reunite in Berlin 17 years later, just as the wall is going up. The drama was named best film and Vildziunas won the best director award at the Lithuanian film and TV industry’s Silver Crane Awards, where “Back to Your Arms” took home eight awards overall. Trailer (no English subtitles)
Macedonia: “Punk Is Not Dead“, Director: Vladimir Blazevski
This black comedy about a punk band reuniting after nearly two decades apart was filmed in a deliberately rough, verite style. The film is described on its official website as existing “somewhere in the limbo space between road movie and drama,” and also as an attempt to examine the increasingly strong nationalistic elements in Macedonia. Trailer (no subtitles)
Mexico – Miss Bala, directed by Gerardo Naranjo. One of the most critically-acclaimed films in competition is this tense action drama about an aspiring beauty queen caught in a war between Mexican drug cartels. Violent and uninterested in Hollywood-style happy endings, the film consistently won raves at Cannes, in Toronto and at the Tokyo International Film Festival, where it won awards for Naranjo and actress Stephanie Sigman. Trailer (subtitled).
Morocco – Omar Killed Me, directed by Roschdy Zem. The true story of Moroccan immigrant imprisoned for murder near Cannes, Omar Killed Me examines a penal system in which French police and prosecutors were eager to pin the crime on a convenient target. Director Zem is currently receiving raves for the limited stateside release of Point Blank.
Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Elle Driver
Netherlands – Sonny Boy, directed by Maria Peters ♀. The film was written and directed by Peters, and adapted from a bestselling book by Annejet van der Zijl, which was based on a true story. Set in the 1920s, it deals with a mother of four who falls in love with a much younger man from Surinam.
Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: DC Medias
New Zealand: “The Orator“, Director: Tsui Tamasese
New Zealand may have been well-represented at the Oscars in the past (“Lord of the Rings,” anyone?), but the country never competed in this category before submitting this drama, which deals with a small man fighting for respect in a traditional Samoan community. Tamasese’s debut film, said judges who awarded the film a special prize at the Venice Film Festival, “expands the border of cinema with this mystical tale of brave individuals negotiating the politics of community in the Samoan countryside.”
English trailer (subtitled). ISA: NZ Film
Norway – Happy, Happy, directed by Anne Sewitsky ♀. The story of a young married schoolteacher whose relentless optimism is challenged when a seemingly perfect family moves in next door, Sewitsky’s gentle comedy won the World Cinema Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Trailer (subtitled)
Peru – October, directed by Daniel Vega Vidal. An entry in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes in 2010, “October” centers on a tough moneylender who’s unexpectedly forced to care for a baby that most likely resulted from his liason with a prostitute. “The film is precision deadpan in the vein of Bresson, Kaurismaki and Jarmusch,” said the Filmfest DC catalog.
Trailer (subtitled). ISA: Urban Distribution. US: New Yorker Films
Philippines – The Woman in the Septic Tank, directed by Marlon Rivera. Like last year’s Icelandic submission “Mamma Gogo,” the central character is a filmmaker (or in this case, three filmmakers) desperate to make an Oscar-winning movie. Full of wicked caricatures and fantasy sequences, the film satirizes and showcases, in the words of Oggs Cruz, “what’s depressingly wrong in the current state of Philippine filmmaking in the most hilarious of ways.” Trailer (largely in English)
Poland – In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland ♀. Director Holland has been Oscar-nominated for “Olivier, Olivier,” and her film has already been picked up by Sony Classics, the company with an impressive record of picking winners and nominees in this category. Based on the true story of a Polish criminal who helped hide Jewish refugees in the sewers during World War II, the film is strong and powerful, and has to be considered a frontrunner. ISA: Beta. U.S. Sony Pictures Classics
Portugal – Jose and Pilar, directed by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes. Portugal is the second recent country to submit a documentary: in this case, a film about novelist Jose Saramago and his wife, and the pressures and demands that come with his success. One of Saramago’s best-known works is Blindness, which was made into a movie by director Fernando Meirelles and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, both of whom also appear in this film. Trailer (subtitled). ISA: 6 Sales
Romania – Morgen, directed by Marian Crisan ♀. Reportedly less grim than the Romanian fare that has been controversially overlooked by the Academy in recent years, Morgen looks at the friendship between a Romanian-Hungarian security guard and an illegal immigrant. Trailer ISA: Les Films Du Losagne
Russia – Burnt By The Sun 2: Citadel, directed by Nikita Mikhalkov. The expensive action film about the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was a commercial and critical flop when it opened in Russia in May, but it’s the second part of a sequel to the 1994 film Burnt by the Sun, which actually won the Oscar in this category. The head of Russia’s Oscar selection committee, filmmaker Vladimir Menshov, didn’t agree with the selection and is calling for Mikalhov to take his film out of the race.
Serbia – Montevideo, God Bless You!, directed by Dragan Bjelogrlić. A box-office hit in its homeland, Montevideo, Taste of a Dream deals with the Yugoslavian soccer team’s participation in the 1930 World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay. It is loosely based on a novel, “Montevideo, Bog te video,” by sports journalist Vladimir Stankovic. English trailer. ISA: Soul Food Distribution
Singapore: “Tatsumi“, Director: Eric Khoo
A rare animated entry in this category, “Tatsumi” is based on an 800-page graphic memoir by the pioneering Japanese manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It intersperses scenes from Tatsumi’s career with dramatizations of several of his short stories, which director Khoo has said he found “dark and beautiful.”
Trailer (subtitled). ISA: The Match Factory
Slovakia – Gypsy, directed by Martin Sulik. Martin Sulik’s “Gypsy” centers on a gypsy boy who tries to change his life after the death of his father, and finds himself struggling against his community’s traditions and prejudices. The film was shot in real gypsy communities in Slovakia with a cast of non-actors.
Trailer (no subtitles)
South Africa – Beauty, directed by Oliver Hermanus. A high-profile entry in the category, “Beauty” was the first Afrikaans film to be shown at Cannes, where it won the Queer Palm award as the fest’s best gay-themed film. Hermanus’s drama deals with a middle-aged family man who develops an unexpected attraction to an old friend’s 23-year-old son; its reportedly explicit scenes of sexuality may test the foreign-language committee’s open-mindedness. Trailer (subtitled). ISA: MK2 U.S. Strand Releasing
South Korea – The Front Line, directed by Jang Hun. Korean director Jang Hun’s third film is set during a ceasefire in the Korean War in 1951, and deals with a South Korean lieutenant whose investigation into the killing of a commander uncovers odd circumstances along the war’s eastern front. Trailer (no subtitles). ISA: Showbox/Mediaplex
Spain: Black Bread
Director: Agusti Villaronga
Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” has a higher profile and a U.S. distribution deal via Sony Classics, but Villaronga’s tale set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War is the year’s most critically-lauded film in Spain. A ghost story of sorts that has been compared to a more mainstream Pan’s Labyrinth, it was nominated for 14 awards at the Goyas, Spain’s version of the Oscars, and won nine, including Best Film and Best Director. Trailer (subtitled), ISA: Beta Cinema
Sweden – Beyond, directed by Pernilla August ♀. Noomi Rapace, the star of the original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” films, plays a young woman growing up in a household of abuse and alcoholism in the 1970s. The film relies heavily on flashbacks to those ugly times – and though August reportedly uses restraint in what she shows and what she only implies, early reviews suggest that this is a very difficult film to sit through. English trailer
Switzerland – Summer Games, directed by Rolando Colla. Some of the summer games played by the kids who serve as central characters in this story are reportedly sadistic and unpleasant – but the film has also won praise for refusing to romanticize childhood. Using a languid, relaxed pace, Colla follows a group of youngsters on a summer holiday in Tuscany, grappling with first love, parent-child relationships and abuse, among other issues. Trailer (subtitled). ISA: Rezo
Taiwan – Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, directed by Wei Te-Sheng. The lavish and action-packed historical drama was a big hit in its home country. It deals with the aboriginal Taiwanese Seediq people, who were subject to cultural restrictions and forced labor during the Japanese rule in Taiwan in the early 1900s; the film focuses on their attempts to fight back in the 1930 Wushe Incident. Trailer (subtitled). ISA: Fortissimo Films
Thailand: “Kon Khon”, Director: Sarunyu Wongkrachang
Thailand’s 2010 submission, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” was a hit with critics but a dud with the Academy’s foreign-language committees. “Kon Khon” appears far less experimental – coming from a veteran actor-turned-director, it deals with the Thai masked dance drama called khon, and with a group of orphans being brought up in a classical dance school devoted to the traditional art.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Turkey: “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia“, Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
This film has already made the festival rounds to some acclaim, screening at Toronto, the New York Film Festival and Cannes, where it shared the Grand Prize with “The Kid With a Bike.” Based on a true story, the film follows a day-long investigation into a murder on the Anatolian steppes. Time Out London called it “a mysterious and demanding work,” with a two-and-a-half-hour running time and an unhurried pace in which the murder investigation frequently stops for long conversations about the minutae of daily life.
Trailer (no dialogue). ISA: ZeynoFilm, U.S: Cinema Guild
United Kingdom: “Patagonia“, Director: Marc Evans
The UK doesn’t always have a foreign-language film to submit, but this drama divides its time between Wales and Argentina, with dialogue in Welsh and Spanish. The film deals with a Welsh couple who travel to the Patagonia region in southern Argentina, long a favored destination for Welsh emigrants. Stars include Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) and the singer Duffy.
Trailer (subtitled). ISA: The Little Film Company
Uruguay: The Silent House, Director: Gustavo Hernandez
A horror film might seem like a longshot to attract the attention of the foreign-language committee, but The Silent House is striking enough to have already served as the basis for an American remake, Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen. The film, which takes place as a woman tries to escape from a house in which she’s hearing unexplained noises, was shot in a single, uninterrupted 78-minute take, for a budget of $6,000.
Trailer (subtitled) . ISA: Elle Driver
Venezuela – The Rumble of the Stones, directed by Alejandro Bellame Palacios. Palacios’ film deals with a woman in Caracas trying to rebuild a life for herself, her mother and her two sons in the wake of floods that destroyed their home.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Vietnam – Thang Long Aspiration, directed by Lưu Trọng Ninh. Vietnam’s entry goes back more than 1,000 years to depict the life of King Ly Thai To, the ruler who moved the capital to what is now Hanoi (and was then called Thang Long, or Rising Dragon). The lavish film was reportedly shot in only two-and-a-half months and edited in one month, in order to be ready for Hanoi’s 1,000th anniversary.
Trailer (no subtitles)