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Here Are All the Foreign Oscar Submissions for 2016 (Trailers)

Here Are All the Foreign Oscar Submissions for 2016 (Trailers)

Among the foreign-language titles on display at Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York, many wound up in the foreign Oscar race. Countries chose their final official submissions before the October 1 deadline. Other Oscar entries are nearing the end of their run on the festival circuit. 

This year in total saw 81 submissions; that’s two down from last year’s record of 83. Ukraine’s committee, which has been undergoing personnel changes following some dirty business that went on last year, didn’t get its act together in time to submit before the deadline. The country has filed for an extension and is awaiting response from the Academy.

Here’s the full list. See trailers and analysis after the jump.

2016 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Entries

Afghanistan, “Utopia,” Hassan Nazer, director;

Albania, “Bota,” Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci, directors;

Algeria, “Twilight of Shadows,” Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, director;

Argentina, “The Clan,” Pablo Trapero, director;

Australia, “Arrows of the Thunder Dragon,” Greg Sneddon, director;

Austria, “Goodnight Mommy,” Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, directors;

Bangladesh, “Jalal’s Story,” Abu Shahed Emon, director;

Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Our Everyday Story,” Ines Tanović, director;

Brazil, “The Second Mother,” Anna Muylaert, director;

Bulgaria, “The Judgment,” Stephan Komandarev, director;

Cambodia, “The Last Reel,” Sotho Kulikar, director;

Canada, “Félix and Meira,” Maxime Giroux, director;

Chile, “The Club,” Pablo Larraín, director;

China, “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” Han Yan, director;

Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;

Costa Rica, “Imprisoned,” Esteban Ramírez, director;

Croatia, “The High Sun,” Dalibor Matanić, director;

Czech Republic, “Home Care,” Slavek Horak, director;

Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;

Dominican Republic, “Sand Dollars,” Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas, directors;

Estonia, “1944,” Elmo Nüganen, director;

Ethiopia, “Lamb,” Yared Zeleke, director;

Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;

France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;

Georgia, “Moira,” Levan Tutberidze, director;

Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;

Greece, “Xenia,” Panos H. Koutras, director;

Guatemala, “Ixcanul,” Jayro Bustamante, director;

Hong Kong, “To the Fore,” Dante Lam, director;

Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director;

Iceland, “Rams,” Grímur Hákonarson, director;

India, “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane, director;

Iran, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” Majid Majidi, director;

Iraq, “Memories on Stone,” Shawkat Amin Korki, director;

Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;

Israel, “Baba Joon,” Yuval Delshad, director;

Italy, “Don’t Be Bad,” Claudio Caligari, director;

Ivory Coast, “Run,” Philippe Lacôte, director;

Japan, “100 Yen Love,” Masaharu Take, director;

Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director;

Kazakhstan, “Stranger,” Yermek Tursunov, director;

Kosovo, “Babai,” Visar Morina, director;

Kyrgyzstan, “Heavenly Nomadic,” Mirlan Abdykalykov, director;

Latvia, “Modris,” Juris Kursietis, director;

Lebanon, “Void,” Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle

Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber, directors;

Lithuania, “The Summer of Sangaile,” Alanté Kavaïté, director;

Luxembourg, “Baby (A)lone,” Donato Rotunno, director;

Macedonia, “Honey Night,” Ivo Trajkov, director;

Malaysia, “Men Who Save the World,” Liew Seng Tat, director;

Mexico, “600 Miles,” Gabriel Ripstein, director;

Montenegro, “You Carry Me,” Ivona Juka, director;

Morocco, “Aida,” Driss Mrini, director;

Nepal, “Talakjung vs Tulke,” Basnet Nischal, director;

Netherlands, “The Paradise Suite,” Joost van Ginkel, director;

Norway, “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug, director;

Pakistan, “Moor,” Jami, director;

Palestine, “The Wanted 18,” Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan, directors;

Paraguay, “Cloudy Times,” Arami Ullón, director;

Peru, “NN,” Héctor Gálvez, director;

Philippines, “Heneral Luna,” Jerrold Tarog, director;

Poland, “11 Minutes,” Jerzy Skolimowski, director;

Portugal, “Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One,” Miguel Gomes, director;

Romania, “Aferim!” Radu Jude, director;

Russia, “Sunstroke,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director;

Serbia, “Enclave,” Goran Radovanović, director;

Singapore, “7 Letters,” Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin,

Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal, directors;

Slovakia, “Goat,” Ivan Ostrochovský, director;

Slovenia, “The Tree,” Sonja Prosenc, director;

South Africa, “The Two of Us,” Ernest Nkosi, director;

South Korea, “The Throne,” Lee Joon-ik, director;

Spain, “Flowers,” Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga, directors;

Sweden, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson, director;

Switzerland, “Iraqi Odyssey,” Samir, director;

Taiwan, “The Assassin,” Hou Hsiao-hsien, director;

Thailand, “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time),” Josh Kim, director;

Turkey, “Sivas,” Kaan Müjdeci, director;

United Kingdom, “Under Milk Wood,” Kevin Allen, director;

Uruguay, “A Moonless Night,” Germán Tejeira, director;

Venezuela, “Gone with the River,” Mario Crespo, director;

Vietnam, “Jackpot,” Dustin Nguyen, director.

Among the African countries that have submitted are Driss Mrini’s “Aida” from Morocco, which won prizes at the Tangier Film Festival, and Zulu-language drama “Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us” from South Africa.

READ MORE: Morocco Picks Foreign Oscar Candidate

As expected, Taiwan has submitted Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Cannes premiere “The Assassin,” slated for Toronto and New York and sailing into theaters via Well Go USA on October 16. There is little talking and fitful action in this $15 million period epic which took 10 years for Hou to meticulously prepare. 

China did initially swing for China Film Co’s big-budget Mongolian wilderness adventure “Wolf Totem” (Columbia Pictures, September 11), directed by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud (“Quest for Fire”), which bears some resemblance to the Kazakhstan entry, Yermek Tursunov’s sixth feature, “Stranger.” 

However, the Academy denied the submission of “Wolf Totem,” stating that there was not enough credited talent from China for full qualification. Thus, China ran with “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” a summer box office success overseas. (Here’s Variety’s review.)

South Korea has submitted period martial arts drama “The Throne.” And Japan opted not to submit Sony Pictures Classics’ Hirokazu Koreeda Cannes entry “Our Little Sister,” instead submitting “100 Yen Love,” a gritty Tokyo Film Festival drama about a female boxer that opened in the country late last year.

In South Asia, a 17-member jury selected “Court” to represent India this year. The debut feature from Chaitanya Tamhane about a grassroots organizer subjected to a Kafkaesque judicial procedure beat out tapped Indian favorites including lavishly produced “Bahubali,” a box office hit.

Guatemala has entered Jayro Bustamante’s volcano drama “Ixcanul,” a TIFF 2015 selection. Panama’s entry is documentary “Box 25,” about the history of the troubled relationship between Panama and the U.S. Esteban Ramírez’s prison drama “Presos” will rep Costa Rica, where it played well this year.

Ireland’s Spanish-language “Viva,” the country’s fourth-ever submission to the Academy Awards, will compete this year after premiering in Telluride to rousing applause. The long-in-development Paddy Breathnach tearjerker is set in Havana, Cuba and tells the story of 18-year-old Jesus, struggling to realize who he is, supported by a transvestite club singer and rejected by his long-estranged alcoholic father. 

The Germans, after painstakingly narrowing their list, went with Sony Pictures Classics’ 60s Nazi trial drama “Labyrinth of Lies.”

Oddly, Austria submitted TIFF 2014 horror entry “Goodnight Mommy,” a disturbing meld of home invasion and torture-porn tropes that will be a hard sell for Academy members.

Luxembourg picked Donatto Rotunno’s coming-of-age drama “Baby(a)lone.” Switzerland chose 3D documentary epic “Iraqi Odyssey,” which played TIFF 2014.

Italy skipped Nanni Moretti’s Cannes competition entry “Mia Madre” in favor of “Don’t Be Bad,” the final film by veteran director Claudio Caligari — who recently died in May — whose ’90s-set ode to Pasolini edged out a nine-film shortlist. “Don’t Be Bad,” which didn’t do well in Italy, has not had the fest exposure of “Mia Madre,” which Alchemy has taken to Toronto and New York, among other fests.

France had a strong year and could have chosen among Directors’ Fortnight prize-winner Arnaud Desplechin’s young romance “My Golden Days,” Stephane Brize’s “The Measure of a Man,” starring Cannes’ Best Actor Vincent Lindon, and Jacques Audiard’s moving immigrant drama “Dheepan,” which collected the Palme d’Or. But France ultimately went for Deniz Gamze Erguven’s Quinzaine favorite “Mustang” which, though Turkish-language, is a French co-production.

READ MORE: France Choose “Mustang” for Foreign Oscar

Belgium picked Jaco Van Dormael’s surreal comedy “The Brand New Testament,” which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight. The long-working Belgian director has been earning prizes since his 1980 debut short “Maedeli La Brèche,” which won a Student Academy Award.

Spain went with Basque-language “Loreak” (“Flowers”), from directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga. This marks the first ever Basque entry to represent the country. The drama was nominated for two Goya awards, including Best Film.

Early on, Hungary picked SPC’s Cannes prize-winner “Son of Saul,” which played Telluride, Toronto and New York. It will be tough to beat. Romania’s Berlin Silver-Bear winner “Aferim!,” a 19th century drama directed by Radu Jude, also played TIFF. (Big World has U.S. rights.) Bosnia and Herzegovina selected Sarajevo world premiere, Ines Tanovic’s post-war drama “Our Everyday Life.” Croatia submitted Sarajevo Film Festival hit “The High Sun,” Cannes Un Certain Regard prize-winner Dalibor Matanić’s moving triptych of Serbo-Croat romances, three wrenching tales of ethnic heartbreak and dissonance. For its part, Greece went with Panos Koutras’s TIFF 2014 title “Xenia” (over Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Locarno/Sarajevo hit “Chevalier”), a story of two brothers, mourning their singer mother, who travel from Athens to Thessaloniki to track down the father who abandoned them. 

“Babai” is Kosovo’s entry to the 88th Oscars. This debut film written and directed by Visar Morina had an international premiere at Karlovy Vary, winning best directing in the main competition. Also “Babai” was awarded with three prizes at Film Fest Munchen in the category of German New Talent Award. The film is about a 10-year-old whose father disappears suddenly, leaving from Kosovo to Germany for work. Turkey went for Kaan Müjdeci’s Venice coming-of-age debut “Sivas,” plucked from a record 19 submissions.

Czech Republic has submitted Slávek Horák’s “Home Care,” whose star Alena Mihulová won Best Actress in Karlovy Vary for her portrayal of a home-care nurse dying of cancer.

Estonia’s action war drama “1944,” directed by Elmo Nuganen, is the country’s pick following box office success and a premiere in Berlin. Lithuania has Sundance and Berlinale coming-of-ager “The Summer of Sangaile,” which won industry awards in the country and has screened other top fests.

Iraq has submitted Shawkat Amin Korkiv’s “Memories on Stone,” about the multiple challenges of shooting a film in post-war Kurdistan.

Through stop-motion animation, drawings and interviews, in “The Wanted 18” Palestinian directors Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan recreate a true story from the First Palestinian Intifada: the Israeli army’s pursuit of eighteen cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared “a threat to the national security of the state of Israel.”

Israel always picks as its Oscar entry the winner of the Best Picture Ophir at the end of September, which was won by a story of Iranian immigrants, “Baba Joon.” 

Iran added Majid Majidi’s Islam origin story “Muhammad: The Messenger Of God” to the mix. Afghanistan has sent Hassan Nazer’s “Utopia,” which follows an Afghan woman attempting to travel to the UK for artificial insemination.


US arthouse hit “Felix and Meira” will rep Canada. Told in French, English and Yiddish, Canadian director Maxime Giroux’s film is set in the Hasidic Jewish world of Montreal’s Mile End district, where a young orthodox mother (Israeli actress Hadas Yaron) falls for an atheist loner (Martin Dubreuil) grieving the death of his father.

Mexico offered a wealth of Oscar possibilities but wound up tapping “600 Miles” as its Best Foreign Language Film submission to the 2016 Academy Awards. Directed by Gabriel Ripstein, the film stars Tim Roth as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent who gets kidnapped by Mexican weapons smugglers across the US/Mexican border. It was a best first feature winner at the Berlinale this year. 

Norway’s entry is TIFF 2015’s “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug’s disaster thriller about a tsunami hitting a tourist town, which will also play the London Film Festival. Sweden critics’ fave “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch,” from Roy Andersson, may be too brainy and avant-garde for the Academy mainstream. Finland’s “The Fencer” is one of several recent post-World War II dramas about a man with a haunted past.  

“A War,” directed by Tobias Lindholm, beat out TIFF title “Men & Chicken” by Anders Thomas Jensen and Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence” for Denmark’s Foreign Language entry.

Grímur Hákonarson’s rural family saga “Rams” (Cohen Media, February 2016) is Iceland’s submission this year, which won the top prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar. 


Chile is sending Pablo Larraín’s Berlin Silver Bear winner “The Club” (Music Box, 2016) to the Academy, an intense drama investigating the crimes of Catholic priests and nuns in a beachside community. The writer/director last represented the country in 2013 with “No,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal, which went on to be nominated among the final five. “The Club” played Toronto. 

Anna Muylaert’s popular festival hit “The Second Mother”  will represent Brazil in the race. Now in US theaters from Oscilloscope, the film was chosen from a group of eight Portuguese-language features. 

Venezuela’s Berlin title “Gone with the River” from director Mario Crespo looks at the plight of an indigenous woman on the Orinoco Delta who wants more. Colombia submitted Ciro Guerra’s festival hit “Embrace of the Serpent,” shot in stunning, dreamy black and white.

Argentina chose mafia true crime thriller “The Clan,” a summer box office smash for the country that surpassed even its 2015 nominee “Wild Tales,” also produced by the Almodovar brothers’ El Deseo shingle.

READ MORE: Argentina Chooses Wisely in 2016 Foreign Oscar Race

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