Front Runners of 71 Vying for Foreign Oscar, Arcane Rules

Front Runners of 71 Vying for Foreign Oscar, Arcane Rules

A whopping 71 countries have submitted films for this year's foreign film Oscar. Kenya submitted for the first time, while last year's Oscar-winning Iran boycotted this year.

Many of the films listed below have played film festivals and gained stateside distribution, but the voting rules for the Academy's foreign films require that Academy members, who come from all branches of the Academy, see a certain number of films–only in theaters. No screeners allowed. Surprises are always in store in this category, which is remarkably free from media influence, although members do get invited to screenings and after-parties with filmmakers in attendance.

The voting process is arcane and occurs in stages. In the first round, eligible voters pick six films. Then the foreign branch executive committee will add three films to wind up with a shortlist of nine. After that another committee of 30 eligible New York and Los Angeles voters hand-picked by producer Ron Yerxa and ex-Academy executive director Bruce Davis— rather than outgoing foreign czar Mark Johnson, who has ended his term on the Board of Governors–narrow the list down to the final five nominees. When I spoke to Yerxa in Telluride, he promised no radical changes in the foreign film voting rules, at least this year.

Based on fest profiles and the films I have seen, of the 71 films below the following are the front runners, in alphabetical order:

  • "Amour," Michael Haneke, Austria, Cannes Palme d'Or (SPC)
  • "Barbara," Christian Petzold, Germany (Adopt)
  • "Beyond the Hills," Cristian Mungiu, Romania, two non-pro leads shared Cannes actress prize (IFC)
  • "Fill the Void," Rama Burshtein, Israel's Ophir-winner (SPC)
  • "The Intouchables," Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, hit in France and US, Omar Sy beat Jean Dujardin for Cesar (TWC)
  • "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, hit in Norway
  • "Pieta," Kim Ki-duk, South Korea (Golden Lion, Venice)
  • "A Royal Affair," Nicolaj Arcel, hit in Denmark, best actor and screenplay in Berlin (Magnolia)
  • "Sister," Ursula Meier, special mention Silver Bear Berlin, Switzerland (Adopt)

The 2012 submissions are:

Afghanistan, "The Patience Stone," Atiq Rahimi, director;
Albania, "Pharmakon," Joni Shanaj, director;
Algeria, "Zabana!" Said Ould Khelifa, director;
Argentina, "Clandestine Childhood," Benjamín Ávila, director;
Armenia, "If Only Everyone," Natalia Belyauskene, director;
Australia, "Lore," Cate Shortland, director;
Austria, "Amour," Michael Haneke, director;
Azerbaijan, "Buta," Ilgar Najaf, director;
Bangladesh, "Pleasure Boy Komola," Humayun Ahmed, director;
Belgium, "Our Children," Joachim Lafosse, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, "Children of Sarajevo," Aida Begic, director;
Brazil, "The Clown," Selton Mello, director;
Bulgaria, "Sneakers," Valeri Yordanov and Ivan Vladimirov, directors;
Cambodia, "Lost Loves," Chhay Bora, director;
Canada, "War Witch," Kim Nguyen, director;
Chile, "No," Pablo Larraín, director;
China, "Caught in the Web," Chen Kaige, director;
Colombia, "The Snitch Cartel," Carlos Moreno, director;
Croatia, "Vegetarian Cannibal," Branko Schmidt, director;
Czech Republic, "In the Shadow," David Ondrícek, director;
Denmark, "A Royal Affair," Nikolaj Arcel, director;
Dominican Republic, "Jaque Mate," José María Cabral, director;
Estonia, "Mushrooming," Toomas Hussar, director;
Finland, "Purge," Antti J. Jokinen, director;
France, "The Intouchables," Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, directors;
Georgia, "Keep Smiling," Rusudan Chkonia, director;
Germany, "Barbara," Christian Petzold, director;
Greece, "Unfair World," Filippos Tsitos, director;
Greenland, "Inuk," Mike Magidson, director;
Hong Kong, "Life without Principle," Johnnie To, director;
Hungary, "Just the Wind," Bence Fliegauf, director;
Iceland, "The Deep," Baltasar Kormákur, director;
India, "Barfi!" Anurag Basu, director;
Indonesia, "The Dancer," Ifa Isfansyah, director;
Israel, "Fill the Void," Rama Burshtein, director;
Italy, "Caesar Must Die," Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani, directors;
Japan, "Our Homeland," Yang Yonghi, director;
Kazakhstan, "Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe," Akan Satayev, director;
Kenya, "Nairobi Half Life," David 'Tosh' Gitonga, director;
Kyrgyzstan, "The Empty Home," Nurbek Egen, director;
Latvia, "Gulf Stream under the Iceberg," Yevgeny Pashkevich, director;
Lithuania, "Ramin," Audrius Stonys, director;
Macedonia, "The Third Half," Darko Mitrevski, director;
Malaysia, "Bunohan," Dain Iskandar Said, director;
Mexico, "After Lucia," Michel Franco, director;
Morocco, "Death for Sale," Faouzi Bensaïdi, director;
Netherlands, "Kauwboy," Boudewijn Koole, director;
Norway, "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, directors;
Palestine, "When I Saw You," Annemarie Jacir, director;
Peru, "The Bad Intentions," Rosario García-Montero, director;
Philippines, "Bwakaw," Jun Robles Lana, director;
Poland, "80 Million," Waldemar Krzystek, director;
Portugal, "Blood of My Blood," João Canijo, director;
Romania, "Beyond the Hills," Cristian Mungiu, director;
Russia, "White Tiger," Karen Shakhnazarov, director;
Serbia, "When Day Breaks," Goran Paskaljevic, director;
Singapore, "Already Famous," Michelle Chong, director;
Slovak Republic, "Made in Ash," Iveta Grófová, director;
Slovenia, "A Trip," Nejc Gazvoda, director;
South Africa, "Little One," Darrell James Roodt, director;
South Korea, "Pieta," Kim Ki-duk, director;
Spain, "Blancanieves," Pablo Berger, director;
Sweden, "The Hypnotist," Lasse Hallström, director;
Switzerland, "Sister," Ursula Meier, director;
Taiwan, "Touch of the Light," Chang Jung-Chi, director;
Thailand, "Headshot," Pen-ek Ratanaruang, director;
Turkey, "Where the Fire Burns," Ismail Gunes, director;
Ukraine, "The Firecrosser," Mykhailo Illienko, director;
Uruguay, "The Delay," Rodrigo Plá, director;
Venezuela, "Rock, Paper, Scissors," Hernán Jabes, director;
Vietnam, "The Scent of Burning Grass," Nguyen Huu Muoi, director.


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Does anyone know when the infamous "9" will be announced?




Dear Anne,
If you get the chance, check out 'Just the Wind' of Hungary that won the Jury Grand Prix – Silver Bear at the Berlinale.

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