More Obscure Entries
by Mark Rabinowitz
Among the 45 countries that have submitted films for consideration for the
1998 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award are one newcomer and two
countries that have not submitted films in 20 years. In an announcement by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
President Robert Rehme, it was revealed that Kyrgyzstan has submitted Aktan
Abdykalydov's "The Adopted Son," for that country's inaugural entry, while
Lebanon and Morocco entered films for the first time in two decades.
Lebanon with "West Beirut," by Ziad Koueiri and Morocco with "Mektoub," by
Selection of each country's submission (one is permitted per country) is
made by juries comprising filmmakers from that country. Submitted films are
not required to have a Los Angeles release to be considered for a
nomination. The entries will be screened, starting December 2nd, by the
Foreign Language Film Award Committee, which will select five films to
receive nominations. The Committee is chaired by Nina Foch.
Clearly a favorite in the category is Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful"
(Italy) which is in release from Miramax and won the Grand Jury Prize at
the Cannes Film Festival. The film has already grossed over $4 million
domestically and is generating significant buzz as a nominee in major Oscar
Several films have won Oscars in other categories while also picking up the
Best Foreign Language Film award, including Federico Fellini's "8 1/2"
(1963) also won an Oscar for Best Costume Design; Claude Lelouch's "A Man
and a Woman" (1966) also won the Best Original
Screenplay Oscar; Costa-Gavras' "Z," in 1969, also won for Film Editing and
Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (1983) won Oscars for Costume
Design, Cinematography and Art Direction.
Among the noteworthy films and directors in the field of 45 are, "Tango" by
Argentina's Carlos Saura, who has won multiple international and film
festival awards for films such as "Ay Carmela!," "Taxi," "Carmen" and "La
Caza." "Tango" will be released in the US by Sony
Pictures Classics. The distributor currently has Brazil's "Central Station"
by Walter Salles is in release in -- the film picked up the Golden Bear
award at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival and won both the Audience and Youth
Jury Awards at the 1998 San Sebastian International Film Festival. Sony
picked up the movie nearly a year ago prior to its debut at the Sundance
Meanwhile, "The Inheritors" by Stefan Ruzowitzky from Austria is currently
in release in the US by Stratosphere Entertainment, and has won multiple
international film festival awards, including a prize at the 1998 Rotterdam
International Film Festival. In release from October Films is Denmark's
entry, "The Celebration," by Thomas Vinterberg. The digitally-shot feature
won the Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and an International
Jury Award-Honorable Mention at the 1998 Sao Paulo International Film
Theo Angelopoulos' "Eternity and a Day" (Greece) won the Palme d'Or at the
1998 Cannes Film Festival, and Erick Zonca's French entry, "The Dreamlife
of Angels," and Tom Tykwer's German entry "Run Lola Run" are gaining strong
critical response -- Zonca's film was picked up by Sony Classics this year
and it recently closed the New York Cilm Festival, while "Lola" was nabbed
at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival by Sony Pictures Classics
after breaking box office records in its native Germany.
Other notable submissions are "Children of the Heaven" by Iran's Majid
Majidi, Taiwan's "Flowers of Shanghai" by Hou Hsiao-Hsien; and Yugoslavia's
"The Powder Keg" by Goran Paskaljevi.
Nominations will be announced at the Academy on Tuesday, February 9, 1999,
with the Awards set to be presented on Sunday, March 21, 1999, at the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center of Los Angeles County.
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