In two of the final announcements of official submissions to the Academy Awards' Foreign Language Film category, both Italy and Spain have announced their selections.
Anica, the Italian motion picture association, has announced that Giuseppe Tornatore's Venice Film Festival opener "Baaria" will represent the country this year. The big-budget epic beat out four other finalists, including Marco Bellocchio's Cannes title "Vincere." Tornatore won an Oscar in this category back in 1990 for "Cinema Paradiso."
One of the biggest budgeted Italian films in some time, "Baaria" cost $37 million to make and debuted to lukewarm notices at Venice last month. Bellocchio's "Vincere," on the other hand, was widely acclaimed on the festival circuit, leading one to wonder which film might have been the better selection. "Baaria" also beat out "Fortapàsc" by Marco Risi, "Il grande sogno" by Michele Placido, and "Si può fare" by by Giulio Manfredonia.
Spain also make their choice today, a week after announcing a surprising three-film short list that excluded Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces." In the end, Fernando Trueba's "The Dancer and the Thief" has been chosen as the country's Academy hopeful, beating out finalists "Gordos" by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, and "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" by Isabel Coixet.
Like Tornatore, Trueba has won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with "Belle Époque" in 1993.
The final date to submit films to the Academy is this Thursday, October 1, 2009. indieWIRE has a list of 52 selections made thus far here. Thirteen other countries- Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Peru, Puerto Rico and Singapore- have not yet publicly announced an Oscar submission, but have submitted films at least three times in the past four years.