By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 6, 2009 at 8:17AM
A surprising last minute edition to the Academy Awards' foreign language film submission list has been announced today. The United Kingdom, which has predominantly submitted Welsh films over the years (if submitting at all), has set Havana Marking's doc "Afghan Star" as its 2009 submission for the Academy Awards. The film's U.S. distributor Zeitgeist Films confirmed the news to indieWIRE today.
"Afghan Star" details how, after 30 years of war and Taliban rule, 'American Idol' has come to Afghanistan and is "taking the nation by storm." For many in the country, this was their first encounter with democracy and for the contestants, they are actually risking their lives to sing. It won both Best Director and the Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the World Documentary section.
Last year, the United Kingdom submitted Karl Francis's 'Hope Eternal," but it was not nominated. The last time the country received a nomination in this category was in 1999, when Paul Morrison's Welsh and Yiddish "Solomon and Gaenor" lost out to Pedro Almodovar's "All About My Mother." The only other nomination it received was in 1993, for another Welsh film, Paul Turner's "Hedd Wyn." "Afghan Star" presents itself in three different languages, Pashtu, Dari and English.
"Afghan Star" is also a notable submission in its being a documentary. Last year, Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir," submitted by Israel, was a rare additional example of a country submitting a documentary and garnerning a nomination for it. "Dream Weavers" (from China) and "Blind Loves" (from Slovakia) were also docs submitted in 2008.
The nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards are announced February 2, 2010.
Get the latest from this year's award season at indieWIRE's new awards section.