Turkey’s Committee of Artistic Activities (SEK) has announced the film “Sivas” by Kaan Müjdeci as the country’s official Oscar entry to seek a nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Academy Awards.
The decision might come as a surprise for most observers given that the most talked-about Turkish film of the year is Deniz Gamze Ergüven‘s “Mustang,” about a group of girls discovering their sexuality in a repressive, chauvinist town. While the film has opened in France, where the director resides, and is scheduled to open stateside in November via Cohen Media Group, there is no indication that “Mustang” has already been released theatrically in Turkey – one of AMPAS requirements. If this is the case, “Mustang” will certainly figure into the race next year.
This is most likely the reason why another film was selected, and in that regard “Sivas” was the option with the highest profile and recognition. The film opened in its homeland on October 31, 2014 making it eligible.
Müjdeci’s debut feature follows an 11-year-old boy who rescues a Kangal dog named Sivas, which was left for death after a brutal illegal fight, and the relationship that’s formed between them. “Sivas” earned a Special Jury Prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival, as well as a slew of awards at smaller festivals around the globe. International sales are being handled by Coloured Giraffes. U.S. rights are still available.
No Turkish film has ever been nominated for the award; however, Nuri Bilge Ceylan got the closest with his profound effort “Three Monkeys,” which made the 9-film shortlist in 2008.