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Foreign Film Race Pt 3: It's your first feature and you're already submitted for an Oscar!

Everything you wanted to know about the foreign language film race ...but were afraid to ask*

Ivan Marinovic (Montenegro)Pt 1 All the trailers -Albania to Italy
Pt 2 All the trailers - Japan to Yemen

Pt 3. Filmmaking is a tough business. While the size and scope of opportunities within filmmaking industries varies tremendously across the borders, it's tough everywhere as creative careers inevitably are. So imagine then that you've finally managed to make a feature film after probably years of study and practice on shorts or frustrating fundraising efforts. Then pretend that the first time behind the camera in the narrative feature level results in your home country choosing you to represent them at the Oscars! That's incredible.

So a hearty congratulations to the 23 following first timers whose films have been selected to compete in Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film Race...

Only five films will be nominated but until then these filmmakers can dream of renting tuxes or finding the perfect gown to wear on Hollywood's High Holy Night...

Babak Anvari
Under the Shadow for the UK

Originally from Iran his debut feature (a horror film set in Tehran and already compared to The Babadook) is representing the UK this year. He's based in London.

21 more filmmakers after the jump...

Faton Bajraktari
Home Sweet Home for Kosovo

This post war dramedy about a man thought dead who returns home is a debut feature.

Claude Barras
My Life as a Zucchini for Switzerland

He produced and directed animated shorts before making his first animated feature (reviewed) about orphaned children in a home.

Min Bahadur Bham
The Black Hen for Nepal

Before directing his first feature about childhood friends during a cease fire in a war-torn village and their hen which goes missing, this 31 year-old filmmaker from Nepal produced a few shorts. 

Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya
Very Big Shot for Lebanon

This 27 year old Beirut born director started in music videos and short films and a TV docu series about Arab immigrants in Argentina. His debut feature is about a drug dealer and a filmmaker. The film is currently available on Amazon (to purchase only).

Lotfi Bouchouchi
The Well for Algeria 

He's been producing films for 12 years. The Well , about an Algerian village surrouned by the French army, is his directorial debut.

Martin Butler & Bentley Dean
Tanna for Australia

They've worked on two documentary series together previously but this is their first narrative feature.

Russudan Glurjidze
House of Others for Georgia

This 44 year old Georgian director's debut feature is about two families after a civil war struggling to build a new peaceful life. It has won prizes at both the Eurasian and the Karlovy film festivals. She previously worked in advertising and commercials.

Said Khallaf
A Mile in My Shoes for Morocco

Wasn't able to find much information on this filmmaker but I believe he's based in Canada. 

Ivan Marinovic
The Black Pin for Montenegro

His debut feature is a comedy about a man at odds with his community when he opposes the sale of a large country estate. You can follow Ivan on Twitter if you so desire.  

Mai Masri
3000 Nights for Jordan

Masri spent her first 20 + years in the industry making documentaries. 3000 Nights is her first narrative feature. She's been nominated for Best Documentary Feature twice at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Juan Daniel F Molero
Videophilia (and other Viral Syndromes) for Peru

This 29 year old filmmaker who studied in Buenos Aires previously made one experimental documentary feature about his own temporary amnesia and his family's home movies. His debut narrative feature is about a rebellious teenager and the amateur porn dealer she meets online

Robin Pront
The Ardennes for Belgium

This new Flemish director's first feature is about two thieving brothers, one fresh out of prison. Hollywood has already noticed him. He's signed with WME and Anonymous Content.

Tunku Mona Riza
Beautiful Pain (also sometimes called Redha) for Malaysia

Her debut film is about a a husband and wife who don't see eye to eye about their autistic son. 

img src

Mahmoud Sabbaugh
Barakah Meets Barakah for Saudi Arabia

Here's an interesting interview with this man about his romantic comedy and the lack of anything like a national "Saudi cinema" 

img src

Marko Skop
Eva Nova for Slovakia

He previously worked in documentaries and television before making this character drama about an alcoholic actress.  

Dastan Zhapar Uulu & Bakyt Mukul
A Father's Will for Kyrgyzstan 

Only Dastan is pictured above. Couldn't find a picture of Bakyt though he apparently co-stars in the picture? The film is about a son who travels from the US to his father's village in Kyrgyzstan after his death.

Lorenzo Vigas
From Afar for Venezuela

Before making the Venice winning gay drama Desde Alla (From Afar), reviewed here and available for streaming on Netflix, this 49 year old Venezuela filmmaker who studied in New York, made one short film as well as working on multiple documentary and shorts projects. He is the first Venezuelan filmmaker ever to be in competition at Venice and he won!

Elite Zexer
Sand Storm for Israel

Zexer previously made both documentary and narrative shorts before making Sand Storm (reviewed at TIFF). Her debut feature, currently playing in limited release, won six Israel's Ophir Awards including Best Picture. 

Two Not Pictured
The controversial Thai horror film Karma about a man forced to become a monk (sometimes referred to as Arpat or Arbat) by Kanittha Kwanyu is also reportedly a debut picture but we have yet to find any information on Kanittha. Man? Woman? Age? History?

Ian White, who directed Cambodia's entry Before the Fall is also a first time narrative feature director (according to IMDb credits) but it's such a common name that there are more than 30 Ian Whites on IMDb alone. So we don't have a photo yet. 


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Reader Comments (6)

Thank you so much for your coverage of this race!

October 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Best resource on the web for the foreign film race. Thank you for all the hard work.

October 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

Charlie & MJS - thank you

October 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm rooting so hard for Montenegro!

October 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue -- is that because he's so handsome or because you've seen the film and liked it ;) ?

October 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Those are really cool movies. You can watch all latest movies for free on Terrarium TV app. Many more TV Shows are also available here for free. You can get it from

November 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKelvin

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