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Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders – Europe Part 1

Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - Europe Part 1

Early predictions have emerged for most Academy Award categories. As the studios reveal their hopeful offers to be released in the final months of the year, the speculation increases. But despite all the information available on the centerpiece awards, other more obscure races remain a complete mystery at this point. Among these, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is almost certainly the most complex to prognosticate. The lengthy process that precedes the announcement of the final nominees makes for a competition that begins months in advance in nations around the globe.Having the opportunity to submit only one film, each country must carry out its own selection process. Once these decisions have been made, their chosen works will compete to make it to the nine-film shortlist, and eventually into the final five slots. Although this procedure allows for a certain degree of democracy, it also excludes all those other films that were left behind in their homelands. This, in turn, gives us a narrow view of what is being produced abroad.

Therefore, after lots of research and arduous educated guessing to put it together, the list below offers a more insightful look at this race before the actual individual selections are announced. For the sake of time, the amount of films is limited to five per country, but in some cases the choices are scarcer and less films are listed. While trying to speculate is always an uncertain endeavor, the factors taken into account to determine which are some of this year’s most important films in each country and their prospects of being chosen as their representative at the Academy Awards, were varied. Festival exposure, release date, the country’s previous submissions, and even the thematic elements of a few of them were considered to create this piece.

Clearly nothing is definitive at this point, but at the very least, this compilation will provide a sense of what the film industries in these territories are putting out and sharing with the world.

READ MORE: Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders – The Americas

Here is the first part of the list on Europe (Albania -Lithuania)


Last year the Balkan state had one of its strongest contenders in recent history, Robert Budina’s “Agon,”
a powerful drama dealing with
the ethnic identity of the region. This time around, there are three
films that qualify to be selected. The front-runner is “ Amsterdam Express,
which has the highest international profile of the three being a
co-production between Albania, U.K The Netherlands
and Germany. The film explores the sociopolitical situation of the
country through the eyes of an Albanian man who immigrates to Dutch
territory illegally.
Following along are two other dramas, “The Last Wish” (Amaneti) and “Ada.” Having three clearly viable options, it
is almost certain that Albania will compete once again this year.

1. “Amsterdam Express PC: F&ME

2. “The Last Wish” (Amaneti) PC: Media Vision

3. “Ada” PC: Concordia Pictures


Having submitted only four times as an independent nation, it is
difficult to predict whether Armenia will decide to participate this
year. However, they
do have a few films that could represent them at the Academy Awards.
Even though the country’s film industry is still precarious and
struggling, they have
their own annual awards and consistently complete feature length
works. Since many of them don’t fulfill the quality standards of major
festivals, few of
their offers ever get passed their border. The most feasible
candidate this year is “Tevanik,” a film about the Karabakh war that
screened at the Cannes
film market and that has also screened theatrically in its home
country. Another possible selection is dark comedy “The Romanticists,”
which won the Best
Screenplay award at the Hayak National Cinema Awards and had some
international exposure. Drama “From Two Worlds as a Keepsake, ” could
also be a good candidate as it premiered last year at the World Film Festival in Montreal. Less likely are comedy “The Heart in the House
,” a Russian co-production, and Hayak Best Film nominee  “Caucho,” which might be a bit too avant-garde to be chosen.

1. Tevanik” PC: Fish Eye Art 

2. “The Romanticists” (Rromantiknery) PC: Aysor-Plus Film Productions
3. “From Two Worlds as a Keepsake” (Yerku ashkharhic i hishatak) PC: National Film Centr of Armenia

4. “The Heart in the House” (Domik v serdtse) PC: Berg Sound

5. “Caucho


Since Austrian productions are heavily influenced by the German film
industry and often intertwined with it, it is no surprise that the major
winner at the
German Film Awards was the co-production “The Dark Valley.”
But given that the director Andreas Prochaska is Austrian, as well as
most of
the creative control and resources, the Germans couldn’t claim it as
their own. This, and the fact that Sam Riley is in it, make it an ideal, high profile candidate to be Austria’s Oscar
submission. Nominated for five awards in the past Austrian Film
Awards, “October November” is also a descent candidate. A close third
followed is “The Last
” the latest film by Houchang Allahyari, whose film “I Love Vienna” represented the country a couple decades ago. Then we have “ Soldier Jane,” which also nominated for Best Film at the National Awards. Lastly, “The Silent Mountain, “ an epic period
piece about World War I is not entirely far fetched. Other films that have had positive receptions at festivals such as “Macondo,” or “Amour Fou” will be released closer to the end of the year.

1. “The Dark Valley”  (Das Fisntere Tal)  ISA: Films Distribution 

2. “October November” (Oktober November) ISA: The Match Factory

3. “The Last Dance” (Der letzte Tanz) PC: Allahyari Filmproduktion

4. “Soldier Jane” (Soldate Jeannette) ISA: Premium Films

5. “The Silent Mountain” ( Der Stille Berg) ISA: Premiere Entertainment Group


It’s always great to see a country like Azerbaijan submitting a film and
making an attempt at getting exposure for their filmmakers and
industry. Their
films rarely make it to the world stage of glamorous festivals, thus
they remain mostly obscure and inaccessible outside their homeland.
Nevertheless, this
year an Azerbaijani film, “Nabat,” could change
that as it will screen at the Venice Film festival. This war film has
already screened in
the country at least at a special event, it is difficult to know if
it will qualify this time around. If it does, it is their best bet.
Should they decide
to save it for next year, the country has another option of mild
prestige. “Chameleon,” a small drama set in a remote village, screened
last year at Locarno and that alone could help its chances. Lastly, there is “Down by the River,”
which was part of the Karlovy Vary Film
Festival selection. It will almost certainly be released until past
the deadline, but might be a strong contender in the future. Two other
dramas, one of
epic proportions and a biopic could get in the mix but there is
hardly any information available besides the fact that they have been
screened in the
capital city of Baku.

1. “Nabat” ISA: Dreamlab Films

2. “Chameleon” (Buqälämun) PC: Arizona Productions

3. “Down the River” (Axinla ashagi) PC: Azerbaijanfilm


The small ex-Soviet state has been mostly producing documentaries for
local viewing. Their output of material that can be successful abroad is
minimal, and
even when they have been presented with a great opportunity to
participate at the Academy Awards, they simply don’t. This was the case
of Sergey Loznitsa‘s “In the Fog” a
couple years back, which could have represented them but was not
entered. In fact, they have only participated on two occasions, the last
one being in 1996.
Although it is unlikely they will show interest, the country has a
couple of promising choices. Belarus’ best bet would be the
international coproduction “ The Role,” a solemn
period piece that was nominated for five Nika Awards (the Russian
Oscars) and actually won for Best Screenplay. Highly
improbable, but given their small number of contenders, the country
could also choose to send “BaBu,” an Azerbaijani coproduction about
the kidnapping of a businessman’s daughter.

1. “The Role” (Rol) ISA: Reflexion Films

2. “BaBu


With the return to Cannes of the country’s most iconic filmmakers, the
Dardenne Brothers, Belgium has an easy decision to make. Starring
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” looks like the obvious
favorite. Nevertheless, the Dardennes have been overlooked before, as it
was the case two
years ago when the Belgians decided to send “Bullhead” over the duo’s “The Kid with a Bike.” The only real threat could
be “Marina” by Stijn Coninx, who was nominated for an Oscar in this category back in 1992 with “Daens.His
latest work is a period
piece about Rocco Granata’s life, an Italian singer who lived in
Belgium in his youth. A more audacious decision, but not entirely
impossible, would be to
select the beautifully nightmarish “The Strange Color of Your Body’s
,” which has had noticeable international presence. Two other
titles, “ The Verdict” and “The Treatment” have been well received at home but since they are facing works by revered filmmakers,
their chances are slight.

1. “Two Days, One Night” (Deux jours, une nuit) ISA: Wild Bunch

2. “Marina” ISA: Media Luna New Films

3. “The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears” (L’étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps) ISA: Bac Films International

4. “The Verdict” (Het Vonnis) ISA: Media Luna New Films

5. “The Treatment” (De Behandeling) ISA: Be for Films


The last film by the poster child for Bosnian cinema, Danis Tanovic,
managed to make it to the 9-film shortlist last December. This year, the
doesn’t have such a prominent candidate. Based on release date, festival
exposure, and language, their safest selection would be the family
drama “ With Mom.” Another title that could qualify is “Krivina,”
which is technically a 2012 film, but did not premier in Bosnia
until late last year. If eligible, it would definitively be a great
runner-up. In third place is the incredibly small local film “ Krajina: Life or Death,”
and it’s in that position simply because it meets all the minimum
requirements to qualify – language included.
The last two films mentioned here are longer shots not due to lack
of quality, but because of their production details. One, “Bridges of
,” is an
anthology film created by over a dozen filmmakers from around the
world. Even though one of the filmmakers is Bosnian and all sections are
in a language
other than English, it will be hard to consider it an actual Bosnian
film. The other, “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales,” is a Bosnian
production directed by Jasmila Zbanic, but the dialogue seems to be mostly in English, which would make it ineligible.

1.  “With Mom” (Sa Mamom) PC: SCCA/PRO.BA

2. “Krivina” ISA: Princ Films

3. “Krajina: Life and Death (Ja sam iz Krajine, zemlje kestena) PC: DEPO Production

4. “Bridges of Sarajevo (Les Ponts de Sarajevo) ISA: Indie Sales

5.”For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” (Za one koji ne mogu da govore) PC: MPM


In recent years the country has decided to send films that have won or
have been nominated for their local film awards. This year the winner of
the top
award for Best Film was “Alienation,” seemingly making it the favorite to be submitted. This might actually not be the case. Premiering at
Sundance earlier this year, “Viktoria,” an epic
drama about a peculiar mother-daughter relationship, might actually be
the frontrunner. The
film has been rightfully hailed as the most important Bulgarian film
of 2014 as it has been praised at several international festivals. The
only concern
was its release date, but that has been put to rest since the
filmmakers have announced a one-week theatrical run of the film in Sofia
this September.
This might imply they are seriously considering the possibility of
being chosen. Other less likely options are “Roseville,” another Best
Film nominee at the local film awards, “Rat Poison,” which won Best Screenplay at those same awards, and the comedy “ Living Legends.” “The Judgement,” another important Bulgarian film that opened the Sofia International Film Festival in
March, won’t opened theatrically until after the deadline.

1. “Viktoria”  PC: Viktoria Films

2. “Alienation” PC: Red Carpet/ BNT

3.”Roseville” ISA: Wide

4. “Rat Poison” PC: Bulfilm NFC

5. “Living Legends” PC: Euro Dialogue Productions


Dominating last year’s Pula Film Festival with seven Golden Arena awards
and presented at other international festivals, the drama “ A Stranger” is by far the most qualified choice. Bobo Jelcic’s film follows a man who returns to his hometown only to attend a funeral, but is forced to
deal with several other issues from his past while there. Closely following is complex family drama “Hush…,” which also won several awards
at the same festival. Other films that could come into play include “Vis-à-Vis,” a story about a film director and on his actor trying to
write a screenplay, crime thriller “Not All About the Money, ”and the comedy “Handymen” by Dalibor Matanic, whose film “Fine Dead Girls” represented
Croatia in 2002. It is important to note that three other relevant Croatian films, “The Bridge at the of the World,”  Number 55” and “The Reaper,” will probably be released in the next few months and will be in the running next year.

1. “A Stranger“(Obrana i zastita) ISA: Rendez-vous Pictures

2. “Hush…” (Šuti) PC: Kinorama

3. “Vis-a-Vis” PC: Copycat Production House

4. “Not All About the Money”  (Nije sve u lovi) PC: Interfilm

5. “Handymen” (Majstori) PC: Hrvatska Radiotelevizija


As one of the few countries in Europe that has never submitted a film,
it is likely they will continue on that path once again. Yet, if they
otherwise, there is a film that could represent them. Crime drama “Stratos
directed by Cyprus-born Yannis Economides and produced with support from the
Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture could actually be the island
nation’s lucky charm. Another Cypriot production, the romantic comedy “
Committed,” would be listed here as a possibility if it wasn’t for the fact that it is entirely in English.

1. “Stratos(To Mikro Psari) ISA: The Match Factory


Last year was rough for the Czechs. The ambitious historical courtroom
drama “Burning Bush” by acclaimed filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, was disqualified as their
because it was originally conceived as a TV miniseries. They were
forced to select another film “The Don Juans,” which that didn’t do much
them. This time
around things are looking up with a wide array of films to choose
from. Playing at Karlovy Vary recently and opening theatrically just in
time to qualify
is “Fair Play,” a sports drama about a sprinter attempting to make it to the Olympic Games in 1980. Then there is “Clownwise,
a quirky dramedy that was nominated for Best Film and won Best
Supporting actor at the local Czech Lion Awards. In the third spot is
Hany,” a film
conformed of a single continuous shot depicting the madness
occurring during a night out in the city. “The Way Out, ” a drama that
screened in the ACID
sidebar at Cannes, could also be picked based on that notable
international exposure. Lastly, “Delight,” another Czech Lion Best Film
nominee, could be the surprise selection, but it will probably prove to be a tad too abstract for voters.

1. “Fair Play” ISA: Intramovies

2. “Clownwise” (Klauni) ISA: Latido

3. “Hany” PC: Barletta

4. “The Way Out” (Cesta Ven) ISA: Premium Films

5. “Delight” (Rozkos) PC: Cineart TV Prague


These days
Denmark is a
powerhouse in this category. After almost tasting glory once again with Vinterberg’s “The Hunt, ” the
Danish will return to seek their third consecutive nomination. In order to continue their great
streak, they need to choose wisely. “Someone in Love,”
about a musician in
crisis, has garnered praise from critics internationally, and will seem
like the obvious choice. On the other hand, there is the mystery flick “
The Keeper of Lost Causes,” which opened in Denmark late last yearand was nominated for 4 Bodil Awards. Then there is “Sorrow and Joy” another
powerful drama from Nils Malmros, whose film “Barbara” represented Denmark in 1992. Unique coming-of-age tale ”Speed Walking” could also be a
contender. On the final slot there is the romantic drama “The Miracle,” a film that did well at the Montreal World Film Festival, unlikely
but not impossible. Whichever it is, it will certainly be something to watch out for throughout the race.

1. “Someone You Love” (En du elsker) ISA: TrustNordisk

2. “The Keeper of Lost Causes” (Kvinden i buret) ISA: TrustNordisk

3. “Sorrow and Joy” (Sorg og glæde) PC: Nordisk Film Production

4. “Speed Walking” (Kapgang) PC: Nordisk Film Production

5. “The Miracle” (Miraklet) PC: Film i Vast


This Baltic country’s film industry has increasingly become more
consistent at delivering interesting films. Winning awards across
festivals, their absolute
frontrunner is “Tangerines, ” a Georgian coproduction about a Estonian man caught up in the middle of a war. Its biggest competition is
the black and white historical film “In the Crosswind,”
“which is a viable choice given that it deals with a painful episode in the region’s history: the mass deportation of Baltic people to Siberia by Russia. Though it looks beautifully
done, its
particular visual aesthetic might seem to unconventional to some voters.
It is still really possible they decide to send it regardless. Finally
there is “ Kertu” a romantic drama about an unlikely relationship.

1. “Tangerines” (Mandariinid) ISA: Cinemavault 

2. “In the Crosswind” (Risttuules) PC: Allfilm

3. “Kertu, Love is Blind” (Kertu) ISA: Paul Thiltges Distribution Sarl


Despite the countries long filmmaking tradition, the Finnish have only been nominated once for Aki Kaurismäki‘s “The Man Without a Past
in 2002.
Fortunately for them, they have several great eligible films that will
make for a difficult decision. Black and white philosophical drama “ Concrete Night” from Pirjo Honkasalo
earned 6 Jussi Awards, given
by Finland’s film professionals. Such overwhelming recognition will
make it hard to ignore despite the serious competition. The film also
had a great
festival run. Right behind it are two films by prolific Dome Karukoski, who has
represented his country at the Oscar previously. The first one is “The Grump,” a comedy based on the character created by Tuomas Kyro. It
will screen at TIFF and will open locally just in time to qualify. Karukoski’s other film “Heart of a Lion,
tells a more serious story
about a Neo-Nazi who reconsiders his views after falling in love.
Either one of them could be picked as a way to honor the consistently
great work this
filmmaker puts out. Yet another interesting possibility is “Korso,” about a young man with big basketball dreams. The film was partially
produced by the same company that created last year’s Oscar nominated short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” There are several
other plausible films, but from all those, the one that seems to have the best prospects is the historical comedy “August Fools.”

1. “Concrete Night” (Betoniyö) ISA: Film Republic

2. “The Grump” (Mielensäpahoittaja) ISA: The Yellow Affair

3. “Heart of a Lion” (Leijonasydän) ISA: The Yellow Affair

4. “Korso” PC: BUFO/Tuffi Films

5. “August Fools” (Mieletön elokuu) ISA: Insomnia World Sales


Narrowing down France’s possible selection to five titles is by far one
of the must uncertain and difficult tasks. The French film industry
releases a vast
number of films every year in a variety of genres and sizes. This
gives them endless possibilities. Yet, there are some indicators that provide insight
to what they might end up choosing. First off, the Cesar Awards.
This year’s big winner was Guillaume Gallienne‘s “Me, Myself and Mum, ” which
is a delightfully
funny film that shines with originality. It was released last
November and could definitely be their selected entry. On the other hand,
they could choose to
honor legendary filmmaker Alain Resnais– who past away earlier this year – by
submitting his last film “Life of Riley.” The film received mixed reactions, but won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Alfred Bauer Award in
Berlin. If they want to go with some fresh young talent, there is Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Winner “Love at First Sight, ” the debut
feature by Thomas Cailley. Another award winner that qualifies is Katell Quillévéré’s “Suzanne” about a woman that loses it all for
the love a deviant man. Last but not least, Mathieu Amalric’s latest directorial
effort “The Blue Room” could be a surprise player given the actor’s prestige and talent both in front and behind the camera. It is still
up in the air.

1. “Me, Myself and Mum” (Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table!) ISA: Gaumont

2. “Life of Riley” (Aimer, boire et chanter) PC: F Comme Film

3. “Love at First Sight” (Les Conbattants) PC: Nord-Ouest Productions

4. “Suzanne” ISA: Films Distribution

5. “The Blue Room” (La Chambre Bleue) ISA: Alfama Films


Impressively on the rise, the Georgian film industry keeps on delivering great works that often make waves across international festivals.
Last year’s
submission “In Bloom,” was a great success and managed to get U.S. distribution for a small theatrical release. On this occasion, they
have three films that have done well internationally. Out of the batch, the most successful has been Levan Koguashvili’s “Blind Dates, ” a charming story of a unique
quest for love. A second strong competitor is “Brides,” a drama that screened both at the Berlinale and Tribeca this year. Then, just
fresh from winning at Karlovy Vary, there is “Corn Island,” a poetic vision of life from the perspective of rural Georgia. It appears like
all three titles will release at home in time to qualify. If that’s the case, Georgia has a tough decision to make

1. “Blind Dates” (Shemtkhveviti paemnebi) ISA: Films Boutique

2. “Brides” (Patardzlebi) ISA: Rezo

3. “Corn Island” (Simindis kundzuli) PC: Arizona Productions


After releasing a 15-film shortlist, Germany’s prospects look clearer.
There are several titles on the list that won’t merit a nomination, but
prominent film that remain will make for a competitive final
selection. Winning two prizes in Berlin, “Stations of the Cross,” a look
at fundamentalist
Catholicism, sounds like a front-runner. However, its subject matter
might play against it. Feo Aladag’s latest film “Inbetween Worlds,” about a German
soldier in Afghanistan, seems to be a powerful drama on the vein of Susanne Bier’s
In a Better World.” On the third slot is “West,” a moving film about a woman and her son escaping socialist East Germany
to discover the other side also has its darkness. Then there is “Beloved Sisters,” a costume drama that seems like a safer choice. It
might be too familiar to be selected, but not at all improbable. Lastly, “Home from Home,” which won several national awards. It’ss possible,
but its narrative style and extensive running time (225 min.) might make it a much more harder sell.

1. “Stations of the Cross” (Kreuzweg) ISA: Beta Cinema 
2. “Inbetween Worlds” (Zwischen Welten) ISA: The Match Factory

3. “West” (Westen) ISA: Picture Tree International

4. “Beloved Sisters” (Die geliebten Schwestern) PC: Bavaria Film

5. “Home from Home –  Chronicle of a Vision” (Die andere Heimat – Chronik einer Sehnsucht) ISA: ARRI Worldsales


Even though it not an absolute rule, the Greeks tend to select the
Hellenic Awards Best Film winner as their submission. Taking that into
account, the
clear favorite and almost certain choice is “Little England,” a period piece that won big locally. It’s biggest flaw; however, is the lack
of international exposure. If for some reason they wanted to make a bold move and reward an impressive festival run, then Alexandros Avranas’s marvelously perverse “Miss Violence” would
be ideal. Another great festival darling is Elina Psikou‘s feature debut “The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas,” a sardonic exploration on fame and identity. On the fourth spot, there is “ The Enemy Within,” a tense crime drama about a family in the aftermath of a home invasion. The film was also honored at the Hellenic
Awards. Finally, “Standing Aside, Watching,” about corruption, sexism, and intimidation in a small village, could also be a great entry.
Un Certain Regard film “Xenia” by Panos H. Koutras, won’t open in
Greece until October, but will be a possible option next year.

1. “Little England” (Mikra Anglia) PC: Black Orange 

2.”Miss Violence” ISA: Elle Driver

3.”The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas” (I Aionia Epistrofi tou Antoni Paraskeva) ISA: M-Appeal World Sales

4.”The Enemy Within”  (O Ehthros Mou) ISA: Patra Spanou

5. Standing Aside, Watching” (Na kathesai kai na koitas) ISA: Patra Spanou


Hungary’s last submission “The Notebook” managed to make it into the highly competitive 9-film shortlist. This year they have even
brighter hopes with a slate of titles that have done very well around the world. Un Certain Regard winner “White God
is undoubtedly the
one to beat. It is a rare occasion for the country to win such a
high profile prize, thus making it almost impossible to ignore.
Nevertheless, if that is
not enough to convince the selection committee, “Free Fall” the latest film György Pálfiwhose films “ Hukkie” and “Taxidermia” have represented Hungary in the past – would be the next best choice. It also won several awards
recently at Karlovy Vary, which could be of help. Less likely is Virág Zomborácz‘s
Afterlife” another drama that screened at the renowned Czech festival. Other possible titles include LGBT romantic drama “Land of Storms,
“ which screened in Berlin, and dark “ “Heavenly Shift,” which descent international presence.

1. “White God” (Fehér isten) ISA: The Match Factory

2. “Free Fall” (Szabadesés) PC: JIFF Project

3. “Afterlife” (Utóélet) ISA: Hungarian National Film Fund

4. “Land of Storms” (Viharsarok) ISA: M-Appeal World Sales

5. “Heavenly Shift” (Isteni müszak) ISA: Hungarian National Film Fund


This small Scandinavian nation seems to have a very easy decision to make. The film “Life in a Fishbowl
has been dubbed by local critics as
“the best Icelandic” film ever made” and it has also been an
absolute box-office hit in its homeland. The multi-narrative film is by far
the most likely to be
submitted. However, its closest competitor is Ragnar Bragason‘s “ Metalhead,” a drama about a girl coping with her brother’s death. It was released late last year and won several Edda Awards. With far
less possibilities given the two frontrunners is the dramedy “Paris of the North, ” which screened at Karlovy Vary, and comedy “ The Grandad,” which lacks exposure and buzz.

1. “Life in a Fishbowl” (Vonarstræti) ISA: Films Boutique

2. “Metalhead” (Málmhaus) ISA: Picture Tree International

3. “Paris of the North” (París Norðursins) PC: Arizona Productions

4. “The Grandad” (Afinn) PC: Thorsson Productions


Since most of country’s releases are in English rather than in the Irish
language, most years the country doesn’t have any candidates for this
Ireland has only submitted to films for consideration as foreign
language films. It is unlikely they’ll enter the race this year, but if
it manages to be
released in time, Irish director Johnny O’Reilly‘s Russian-language film “Moscow Never Sleeps” could be their selected candidate. The film was produced with the help of the Irish Film Funs, a fact that could help
claim it as an Irish production. Another film in the Irish language, “An Bronntanas” (The Gift), would be a great choice, but it seems to
be originally envisioned for TV as a five part miniseries. It’s hard to know if it will manage to qualify.

1. “Moscow Never Sleeps” (Москва никогда не спит) PC: Snapshot Films


Returning as current champion, Italy – which is the most successful
nation ever in this category – has two main contenders and a couple
other minor
players. At the top of the list is “Human Capital,” which beat out “The Great Beauty
at the local David di Donatello
Awards. Added to that, the film has won almost every award at home
and several others abroad. It would be shocking to see the film be
ignored. The biggest
threat to its flawless run is Cannes Competition film “The Wonders.” It received mixed reviews but the Cannes pedigree could play a big
role. Local success “The Mafia Only Kills in Summer” is less likely to have a chance. However, it also received tons of praise at home, so
it shouldn’t be entirely disqualified. “Misunderstood,” by Asia Argento, played in the Un Certain Regard section but faces tough competition.
Rounding up these five possibilities is “Those Happy Years, ” a personal film by Daniele Luchetti, which received very positive reviews internationally.

1. “Human Capital” (Il capitale umano) PC: Indiana Production Company

2. “The Wonders” (Le meraviglie) ISA: The Match Factory

3. “The Mafia Only Kills in Summer” (La mafia uccide solo d’estate) ISA: Rai Com

4. “Misunderstood” (Incompresa) ISA: Other Angle Pictures

5. “Those Happy Years” (Anni felici) ISA: Celluloid Dreams/Nightmares


The surprise submission could come from the recently independent,
war-torn Balkan state. They have a promising feature film by Isa Qosja‘s “Three Windows and a Hanging,”
which has been called
“the best film from Kosovo to date.” Dealing with the forced silence
and shame rape victims experience in a small village ruled by
patriarchal norms, the
film seems to be a perfect candidate to be their first submission.
It recently premiered at the Sarajevo Film Festival, so its biggest
challenge would be
qualifying based on its unknown release date at home.

1. “Three Windows and a Hanging


Unfortunately for Latvia, their possibilities are extremely limited this
year. There are only two films that seem as possible candidates. One is
the slasher
horror film “The Man in the Orange Jacket.” It sports a great production value and might be an interesting offer, but it is hard to see it get far in the
race. Nonetheless, it is still their best chance. The other film “Escaping Riga
is a documentary on historical figures Sergei Eisenstein and Sir Isaiah
Berlin. Given its
subject matter it wouldn’t be surprising if they chose to with this.
Hopefully next year their output gives them more to pick from.

1. “The Man in the Orange Jacket” (M.O.Zh.) ISA: Wide

2. “Escaping Riga” PC: Mistrus Media


Opposite to its Baltic neighbor mentioned above, Lithuania has several
notable films that could represent them. After winning the top prizes at
Lithuanian Silver Crane’ awards, “The Gambler
became the clear favorite. However, it is important to mention that
despite having
narrative features to choose from, Lithuania decided to send a small
documentary to represent them last year. This curious fact could play in
favor of “ Cenotaphs,” a doc focusing on the search
for the remains of dead soldiers from World War II. The film won Best
Documentary and was
nominated in other categories at the local awards. Then there are three
other Silver Crane nominated films. Coming-of-age flick “ Non-Present Time,” family drama “Santa,” and crime thriller “Name in the Dark.” The winner of several of
these awards, “The Excursionist” was released too early last year to be considered this time around. Local financial success “Redirected” is mostly in English, thus ineligible.

1.The Gambler (Losejas)
ISA: Wide

2. “Cenotaph” (Kenotafas) PC: Studio Uljana Kim

3. “Non-Present Time” (Nesamasis laikas)
PC: Just a Moment

4. “Santa” PC: Artbox

5. “Name in the Dark” (Vardas tamsoje) PC: Fralita Films

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