UPDATE: Entertainment One has scooped up US rights to Canada’s official Oscar entry, “Gabrielle.” The film, which is the second feature film by director Louise Archambault, centers on a Quebecois young woman (played by Gabrielle Marion-Rivard) with Williams syndrome, which slows cognitive abilities while often increasing gregariousness and heightening musical talent. Gabrielle is in the throes of first love with a man who sings in her choir, but his mother has concerns about the two, both disabled, being able to carry on a healthy relationship.
Entertainment One plans a theatrical release later this winter.
EARLIER: A record 76 countries have submitted films for Oscar consideration in the Foreign-Language Film category this year. Saudi Arabia and Moldova are first-time entrants, while Montenegro is submitting for the first time as an independent country.
A complete and alphabetical list of all 76 countries’ selections is here.
Zeitgeist Films has acquired US rights to Romania’s Oscar entry, “Child’s Pose,” directed by Calin Peter Netzer. The film, which centers on a mother willing to do anything when her son is charged with a deadly hit-and-run, won the Golden Bear at Berlin and had its North American premiere at TIFF. Zeitgeist is eyeing a February 19 opening at Film Forum, followed by a national roll-out.
Adopt Films has snapped up all US rights to Palestine’s official Oscar entry, “Omar.” It is filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad’s second feature to be nominated by the country as its Oscar bid (he also helmed 2006’s “Paradise Now”). Adopt is planning a late winter release for the film, which centers on a Palestinian man forced to work as a double agent for Israeli intelligence.
Iran has selected Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past” as its official entry. Farhadi previously won the Best Foreign-Language Oscar for 2012’s “A Separation.” “The Past” finds Farhadi returning to themes of complex family relationships, centering on an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) who returns to France to divorce his wife (Berenice Bejo) but finds her living with her new boyfriend (Tahar Rahim). Meanwhile, a secret weighs on her.
Kazakhstan has gone with “The Old Man” as its bid for the little golden man. The film is loosely inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” but set on earthen ocean the Asian steppe; its director, Yermek Tursunov, previously had a film, “Kelin,’ make it to the 2010 semifinals in the Oscar race.
Peru has chosen “The Cleaner,” directed by Adrian Saba. It focuses on a forensic cleaner who uncovers a hidden young boy as an epidemic sweeps through Lima.
Israel has selected “Bethlehem.” The film, helmed by Yuval Adler, follows a young Palestinian man recruited as an informant by the Israeli secret service. The film was the recipient of Best Picture at the Ophir Awards, Israel’s equivalent to the Oscars.
Spain has picked “15 Year Plus a Day” for its Oscar bid. The film, which won Best Screenplay at the Malaga Film Festival back in April, is a coming-of-age tale featuring Maribel Verdu (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”) as the single divorced mother of a teenage boy. It is directed by Gracia Querejeta.
Thailand has gone with psycho-thriller “Countdown” for Foreign-Language submission. The film, set in New York though shot at a studio in Thailand, is the debut feature by director Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, and centers on two teens seduced and then tormented by a drug dealer inside their apartment on New Year’s Eve.
Italy has chosen the Palme d’Or nominated “The Great Beauty,” directed by Paulo Sorrentino. It focuses on an atrophying Rome as seen through the eyes of an aging writer (prominent Italian actor Tony Servillo).
Canada picked Louise Archambault’s “Gabrielle,” which centers on a mentally disabled young woman in the throes of first love, while also dealing with her beloved sister’s departure to go live with her fiance abroad.
The Czech Republic selected Agnieszka Holland’s epic “Burning Bush,” which premiered last month at Telluride and tells the story of Czech student Jan Palach’s self-sacrifice in the name of freedom in 1969.
Iceland has opted for “Of Horses and Men” for its Oscar bid. The film, helmed by Benedikt Erlingsson, premiered at San Sebastian this week. Its unusual topic makes it all the more intriguing: Set in a small Icelandic town, it centers on the town’s horse breeders and horses themselves and, per THR, “the animals perform roles in dramatic turns almost equivalent to the human cast.”
Hong Kong has chosen Wong Kar Wai’s gorgeously stylistic kung fu epic “The Grandmaster,” starring international superstars Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, as its official bid in the upcoming Oscar race. The film had an August stateside release via the Weinstein Company, and has so far nabbed $6.29 million at the domestic box office. The Oscar version is one that opened back in January in Asia, not the subsequent Berlin and July Weinstein domestic release cut.
Meanwhile, Norway’s official candidate is “I Am Yours,” which recently played TIFF (TOH review here). A debut feature by writer-director Iram Haq, the film centers on a young single mother who, after dating a number of men with little success, falls for a Swedish man who may not be ready for family life. It stars Amrita Acharia of “Game of Thrones.”
EARLIER: Belgium has named Felix van Groeningen’s romantic drama “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” which hits theaters stateside November 1, as its bid for the Oscar race.
The film, a box-office hit in several European territories, centers on the love affair between a tattoo artist and a bluegrass musician. It played Tribeca earlier this year and won the People’s Choice honor at the European Film Awards (to be presented in December).
Russia has picked Fedor Bondarchuk’s WWII drama “Stalingrad,” as its Foreign-Language Oscar entry. The film, with a $30 million production budget, is the first from Russia to be made completely in 3-D. It comes from an original script by Ilya Tilkin.
Brazil has selected Kleber Mendonca Filho’s “Neighboring Sounds.” The film, which centers on a neighborhood unsettled by the sudden implementation of a security firm, won a Fipresci Prize at Rotterdam in 2012, as well as nabbing the Best Film awards at both the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo film festivals. NY Times critic A.O. Scott put the film on his Top 10 of 2012 last year.
The UK has selected Sean Ellis’ thriller “Metro Manila,” which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and centers on a destitute countryman in the Philippines who is sucked into a dangerous crime ring when he moves to the country’s bustling capital, Manila.
Meanwhile, Mexico has picked Cannes winner “Heli” for its bid in the Oscar race. The film is, per our TOH! Cannes coverage and interview with director Amat Escalante, “unsparing evocation of Mexico’s drug-war violence, including torture. A compelling story of one simple family who, through no real fault of their own, stumble into a nightmare.”
Poland has selected veteran auteur and four-time Oscar nominee Andrzej Wajda’s historic biopic “Walesa: Man of Hope” for its bid in the Foreign-Language Oscar race.
The film, which premiered at Venice and played TIFF, centers on legendary organizer Lech Walesa (played by Robert Wieckiewicz), who moved through the ranks as an electrician to being the leader of the Solidarity movement and finally Poland’s president and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
87-year-old Wajda’s 1975 film “The Promised Land,” 1979’s “The Maids of Wilko,” 1986’s “Man of Iron” and 2007’s “Katyn” have all nabbed Academy Award nominations. In 2000 he won an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar.
The five Foreign-Language nominations will be announced January 16, with the Oscars taking place March 2. Check out other countries’ selected films, including Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, France and Taiwan.
A running list of all countries’ selections thus far is here.