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Bulgaria and Kazakhstan Duke it Out in Foreign Oscar Race

Bulgaria and Kazakhstan Duke it Out in Foreign Oscar Race

That headline is a joke, of course. While I’m sure the film industries of Bulgaria and Kazakhstan are celebrating their inclusion in this year’s shortlist for the Foreign Language Oscar (respectively, with “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner” and “Kelin”), the chances of either being picked for the top five are probably next to nil. The fact that I have no idea what these films are suggests to me not only that I must be out of the loop somewhat, but how strange these films must appear to Oscar voters.

But with the Academy, there’s really no telling what will happen: I wouldn’t be surprised if “The White Ribbon” would be seen as too arty or enigmatic, which leaves the field pretty much wide open, except for the French shoo-in, Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet.” Israel’s “Ajami and Argentina’s “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” also probably have pretty good shots. And while I can’t judge the Dutch entry, “Winter in Wartime,” because I haven’t seen it, the synopsis suggests prize foreign Oscar bait — “a WWII coming-of-age story portrays a 14-year-old Dutch lad’s brutal loss of innocence when circumstances force him to become a one-man Resistance movement.”

But then again, who knows?

Here’s the full shortlist below:

* Argentina, “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” Juan Jose Campanella, director;
* Australia, “Samson & Delilah,” Warwick Thornton, director;
* Bulgaria, “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner,” Stephan Komandarev, director;
* France, “Un Prophète,” Jacques Audiard, director;
* Germany, “The White Ribbon,” Michael Haneke, director;
* Israel, “Ajami,” Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, directors;
* Kazakhstan, “Kelin,” Ermek Tursunov, director;
* The Netherlands, “Winter in Wartime,” Martin Koolhoven, director;
* Peru, “The Milk of Sorrow,” Claudia Llosa, director.

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