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Oscar Foreign Language Frontrunners Amid Record 76 Official Submissions

Oscar Foreign Language Frontrunners Amid Record 76 Official Submissions

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues to debate the best way to reform the foreign language branch, from new president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs to producer Mark Johnson, who is restored to running the various voting committees who check out the movies submitted by countries all over the world. That number has been steadily increasing: This year a record 76 films were officially submitted, up from 71 last year. 

Moldova and Saudi Arabia are first-time entrants; Montenegro is submitting for the first time as an independent country. China, Japan and India chose to select films that seem to have less going for them that others that have succeeded on the fest circuit. China went with politically correct “Back to 1942,” over controversial “A Touch of Sin,” Japan chose “The Great Passage” instead of “Like Father, Like Son,” while India picked “The Good Road” over popular festival hit “The Lunchbox.” And the Academy disqualified Poland’s first choice, “Burning Bush,” from veteran Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland (“Europa, Europa”). France’s “Blue is the Warmest Color,” which won the Palme d’Or, was not eligible because its distributor chose to open it after October 1. And Hong Kong chose Wong kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster,” which has not been warmly received by western critics. Yet again, the countries often, for their own political or cultural reasons, do not always submit the film that is most likely to play for Oscar voters. 

So far the strongest entries for the foreign film Oscar, based on festival and audience reception are:

Belgium, “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Felix van Groeningen, director, which won the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as Best Actress and Best Screenplay awards at Tribeca.

Cambodia, “The Missing Picture,” Rithy Panh, director, our interview with Panh here.

Chile, “Gloria,” Sebastián Lelio, director; featuring a searing performance by actress Paulina Garcia. (Review here.) 

Denmark, “The Hunt,” Thomas Vinterberg, director, starring Cannes 2012 Best Actor winner Mads Mikkelsen (interview here, review here).

Iran, “The Past,” Asghar Farhadi, director, shot in France in French, starring Cannes Best Actress winner Berenice Bejo.

Israel, “Bethlehem,” Yuval Adler, director, which won the Ophir for Best Picture.

Saudi Arabia, “Wadjda,” Haifaa Al Mansour, director; the first film shot by a woman in Saudi Arabia, who booked the movie herself to make it eligible from her home country. (Interview here.)

The 2013 submissions are listed with their directors below:

Afghanistan, “Wajma – An Afghan Love Story,” Barmak Akram, director; 

Albania, “Agon,” Robert Budina, director; 

Argentina, “The German Doctor,” Lucía Puenzo, director;

Australia, “The Rocket,” Kim Mordaunt, director; 

Austria, “The Wall,” Julian Pölsler, director; 

Azerbaijan, “Steppe Man,” Shamil Aliyev, director; 

Bangladesh, “Television,” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director; 

Belgium, “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Felix van Groeningen, director; 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker,” Danis Tanovic, director; 

Brazil, “Neighboring Sounds,” Kleber Mendonça Filho, director; 

Bulgaria, “The Color of the Chameleon,” Emil Hristov, director; 

Cambodia, “The Missing Picture,” Rithy Panh, director; 

Canada, “Gabrielle,” Louise Archambault, director; 

Chad, “GriGris,” Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, director; 

Chile, “Gloria,” Sebastián Lelio, director; 

China, “Back to 1942,” Feng Xiaogang, director; 

Colombia, “La Playa DC,” Juan Andrés Arango, director; 

Croatia, “Halima’s Path,” Arsen Anton Ostojic, director; 

Czech Republic, “The Don Juans,” Jiri Menzel, director;

Denmark, “The Hunt,” Thomas Vinterberg, director; 

Dominican Republic, “Quien Manda?” Ronni Castillo, director; 

Ecuador, “The Porcelain Horse,” Javier Andrade, director; 

Egypt, “Winter of Discontent,” Ibrahim El Batout, director; 

Estonia, “Free Range,” Veiko Ounpuu, director; 

Finland, “Disciple,” Ulrika Bengts, director; 

France, “Renoir,” Gilles Bourdos, director; 

Georgia, “In Bloom,” Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, directors; 

Germany, “Two Lives,” Georg Maas, director; 

Greece, “Boy Eating the Bird’s Food,” Ektoras Lygizos, director; 

Hong Kong, “The Grandmaster,” Wong Kar-wai, director; 

Hungary, “The Notebook,” Janos Szasz, director; 

Iceland, “Of Horses and Men,” Benedikt Erlingsson, director; 

India, “The Good Road,” Gyan Correa, director; 

Indonesia, “Sang Kiai,” Rako Prijanto, director; 

Iran, “The Past,” Asghar Farhadi, director; 

Israel, “Bethlehem,” Yuval Adler, director; 

Italy, “The Great Beauty,” Paolo Sorrentino, director; 

Japan, “The Great Passage,” Ishii Yuya, director; 

Kazakhstan, “Shal,” Yermek Tursunov, director; 

Latvia, “Mother, I Love You,” Janis Nords, director; 

Lebanon, “Blind Intersections,” Lara Saba, director; 

Lithuania, “Conversations on Serious Topics,” Giedre Beinoriute, director; 

Luxembourg, “Blind Spot,” Christophe Wagner, director; 

Mexico, “Heli,” Amat Escalante, director; 

Moldova, “All God’s Children,” Adrian Popovici, director; 

Montenegro, “Ace of Spades – Bad Destiny,” Drasko Djurovic, director; 

Morocco, “Horses of God,” Nabil Ayouch, director; 

Nepal, “Soongava: Dance of the Orchids,” Subarna Thapa, director; 

Netherlands, “Borgman,” Alex van Warmerdam, director; 

New Zealand, “White Lies,” Dana Rotberg, director; 

Norway, “I Am Yours,” Iram Haq, director; 

Pakistan, “Zinda Bhaag,” Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, directors; 

Palestine, “Omar,” Hany Abu-Assad, director; 

Peru, “The Cleaner,” Adrian Saba, director; 

Philippines, “Transit,” Hannah Espia, director; 

Poland, “Walesa. Man of Hope,” Andrzej Wajda, director; 

Portugal, “Lines of Wellington,” Valeria Sarmiento, director; 

Romania, “Child’s Pose,” Calin Peter Netzer, director; 

Russia, “Stalingrad,” Fedor Bondarchuk, director; 

Saudi Arabia, “Wadjda,” Haifaa Al Mansour, director; 

Serbia, “Circles,” Srdan Golubovic, director; 

Singapore, “Ilo Ilo,” Anthony Chen, director; 

Slovak Republic, “My Dog Killer,” Mira Fornay, director; 

Slovenia, “Class Enemy,” Rok Bicek, director; 

South Africa, “Four Corners,” Ian Gabriel, director; 

South Korea, “Juvenile Offender,” Kang Yi-kwan, director; 

Spain, “15 Years Plus a Day,” Gracia Querejeta, director; 

Sweden, “Eat Sleep Die,” Gabriela Pichler, director; 

Switzerland, “More than Honey,” Markus Imhoof, director; 

Taiwan, “Soul,” Chung Mong-Hong, director; 

Thailand, “Countdown,” Nattawut Poonpiriya, director; 

Turkey, “The Butterfly’s Dream,” Yilmaz Erdogan, director; 

Ukraine, “Paradjanov,” Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova, directors; 

United Kingdom, “Metro Manila,” Sean Ellis, director; 

Uruguay, “Anina,” Alfredo Soderguit, director; 

Venezuela, “Breach in the Silence,” Luis Alejandro Rodríguez and Andrés Eduardo Rodríguez, directors.

The final five for the 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater; the awards show will be telecast to more than 225 nations on March 2. 

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