Brazil has officially announced that Daniel Ribeiro’s “The Way He Looks” will be its official entry for the 2015 Academy Awards, and we couldn’t be more pleased. A thoughtful, optimistic and incredibly heartwarming coming of age drama, “The Way He Looks” follows a blind teenager Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) as he falls in love with Gabriel (Fabio Audi). The film is refreshingly more about Leonardo’s independence than his sexuality, and it all makes for something very well observed and endlessly sweet. Hopefully Academy voters agree come voting time.
Notably, “The Way He Looks” joins another Portuguese-language queer film that’s already in the running: Portugal has submitted film industry veteran Joaquim Pinto’s 164-minute portrait of his one-year experience taking experimental medication for AIDS and Hepatitis-C, “What Now? Remind Me.” An absolutely incredible feat of first-person filmmaking, Pinto films his day-to-day life with his husband, Nuno while going back into his personal history with art and cinema. It’s a tall order to pull off what Pinto does, taking his story and turning into what is truly a universal statement about love and work and life. It’s also… much more of a longshot with the Academy given how much it breaks from conventional filmmaking. But still, it’s great Portugal submitted it.
These two films will almost certainly be joined by another from a queer filmmaker, unless Canada makes the very bizarre choice of not selecting Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy” next week. And there’s France and Switzerland… The former could potentially decide to give epic lesbian relationship drama “Blue is the Warmest Color” a shot, since it wasn’t eligible last year (though France has a whole lot to chose from, so we wouldn’t necessarily bet on it). The latter has Stefan Haup’s doc “The Circle” on its shortlist, which like “The Way He Looks” won a Teddy Award in Berlin this year, and tackles a gay publication in Zurich in the 1940s and 1950s, which was scapegoated for the murders of several gay men in the city.