WORLD CINEMA REPORT: Oscar Race Starts Early for Foreign Films

by Anthony Kaufman

(indieWIRE: 11.27.02) -- As United States foreign policy engenders anti-American sentiment on the world stage, the country's movie industry is as coveted as ever. Countries from Bangladesh to Brazil are clamoring for a spot in next year's Oscar race as much as multi-million dollar loan guarantees. Since the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences' November 1 deadline, dozens of nations have submitted films for the Foreign-Language Oscar category (the official list is due out anyday now), hoping for what amounts to more than a gold statuette, but a boost in national pride.

"What separates the foreign Oscar category from every other award is that it's not just a win for the director or the film, it's a win for the country," Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker once told me. Think of it as the World Cup for movies; with foreign countries and U.S. specialized distributors battling it out for a piece of prestige