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9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar Race. One for the History Books for Mauritania

9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar Race. One for the History Books for Mauritania

And then there were 9

9 features that will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards. 

9 features from the 83 films that were considered in the category.

And of the 9, I’m glad to see Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu” on the list – a film that made its world premiere at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it reportedly received a 10-minute-long standing ovation, after its first public screening.

Cohen Media Group will release the film in the USA on January 28, 2015.

It is representing Mauritania in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar competition. This will be the first time that the country has elected to participate in the Academy Awards event. One for the history books! Not only is this the country’s first ever submission, it’s also then obviously the first time a Mauritanian production has been shortlisted by the Academy, in the Foreign Film category. And if it does go on to become 1 of the 5 nominees, that will certainly also be a first!

“Timbuktu” was inspired by the real-life story of the 2012 stoning of a young unmarried couple, by Islamists, in a Northern Mali town called Aguelhok. Their crime? They weren’t officially married, and thus, in the eyes of their executioners, were committing a crime against divine law. That summer, the couple was brought to the center of the town, placed in holes in the ground, and stoned to death in front of hundreds of watchers – a horribly tragic incident that drew international media attention, and motivated at least one filmmaker to address on film.

“Aguelhok is neither Damascus nor Teheran,” Sissako said in a pre-production statement over a year ago, adding that, “and in no way am I looking to over-emotionalize these events for the purposes of a moving film. What I do want to do is bear witness as a filmmaker. Because I will never be able to say I didn’t know. And because of what I know now, I must tell this story – in the hope that no child may ever have to learn this same lesson in the future. That their parents could die, simply because they love each other.”

The film stars Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri and Fatoumata Diawara.

Wendy reviewed it for S&A after screening it at the London Film Festival 2 months ago. Read her thoughts here.

The final 5 nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30am PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

The 9 films shortlisted follow below, in alphabetical order by country:

Argentina, “Wild Tales,” Damián Szifrón, director;

Estonia, “Tangerines,” Zaza Urushadze, director;

Georgia, “Corn Island,” George Ovashvili, director;

Mauritania, “Timbuktu,” Abderrahmane Sissako, director;

Netherlands, “Accused,” Paula van der Oest, director;

Poland, “Ida,” Paweł Pawlikowski, director;

Russia, “Leviathan,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;

Sweden, “Force Majeure,” Ruben Östlund, director;

Venezuela, “The Liberator,” Alberto Arvelo, director.

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