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Oscar's International Race Pt 4 - Returning Directors

by Nathaniel R

In the race for this year's Best International Feature Film, Parasite definitely has the lead but Bong Joon-ho is one of only 20 directors trying again with Oscar after previous submissions in this category. None of them have been nominated before except the LEGEND we'll start with...

Spain's most globally celebrated director, Pedro Almodóvar, is back in contention for the seventh time with Pain and Glory, his 21st feature at the age of 72. This finally makes him Spain's most submitted director of all time...

That record was previously held by Pedro's contemporary José Luis Garci, who is 75 and made the classic Volver a empezar (the Oscar winner for 1982) who has been submitted six times. Garci's most recent picture opened this weekend in Spain so technically it will be eligible for submission next year if Spain loves it and he could tie Pedro to partially reclaim his throne. (Carlos Saura, of Carmen 1983 fame, who is now 87 years old, is in third place with five submissions from Spain)

Before Pain and Glory Almodóvar was previously submitted for Women on the Verge... (1988, nomination)High Heels (1991, not nominated), The Flower of My Secret (1995, not nominated), All About My Mother (1999, nomination/win)Volver (2006, bizarrely not nominated despite a Best Actress nomination and the small matter of it being absolutely genius), and Julieta (2016, not nominated). Obviously Spain would have won the Oscar in 2002 had they submitted Talk to Her for which Pedro won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and was nominated for Best Director.


Andrés Wood

Chile's Andrés Wood is submitted again for the political drama Spider. He was previously sent for Machuca (2004), and Violeta Went to Heaven (2011) neither of which were nominated. (Chile's all-time most submitted director is Pablo Larraín of No and Jackie fame, who they've sent four times)

José Maria Cabral is already the most submitted director in the history of the Dominican Republic and he's only 31 years old. The first time was Jaque Mate (2012), the second was Woodpeckers (2017) and now he's up for The Projectionist

Albania's Bujar Almimani is in the mix with his third submission The Delegation  which makes him his country's most frequently submitted director. They previously sent him for Amnesty (2011), and Chromium (2016). The country has yet to receive a nomination. They've been submitting since 1996.


Bellochio, photographed by © Favino

Italy's 79 year-old director Marco Bellochio returns to the hopefuls list for the third time with The Traitor. He was previously submitted for China is Near (1967) when he was just 28 years old... and then again with A Leap in the Dark (1980) though neither were nominated.

Italy is Oscar's most-honored country in this category -- 3 Honorarys, 11 wins, and 28 nominations -- but that's starting to feel like a dusty historical fact rather than a relevant truth; in the 21st century they haven't been winning much attention. In fact, in the past 20 years they've been nominated just twice, winning once (The Great Beauty). 


Bong Joon-ho is looking like the frontrunner for Parasite and could even show up in Original Screenplay or Best Director. He was previously submitted for the mesmerizing mystery/drama Mother (2009). Good on South Korea's for submitting the two very best films in a pretty stellar filmography. 

Palestine has been submitting since 2003 and Elia Suleiman was the first director they ever chose, for Divine Intervention  and he's back this year with It Must Be Heaven (Hany Abu-Assad is their most submitted director with 3 submissions, 2 of which were nominated)

Uruguay's Federico Veiroj has now been submitted twice as well. The first time was for A Useful Life (2010) and now he's been submitted again for The Moneychanger. He's only 42 so there's plenty of time for more submissions!

Corneliu Porumboiu  was previously submitted for Police, Adjective (2009) and returns this year with The Whistlers. His home country of Romania has never been nominated which is quite sad given how celebrated they were, critically speaking, in the Aughts. (Romania's most submitted director is Sergiu Nicolaescu, who was popular in the 1970s and 1980s before the Revolution)

Croatia has a few directors they've submitted three times but Antonio Nuic could well catch up to them. He's only 42 and Mali is his second submission. He was previously submitted for Donkey (2009). 

Rodrigo Bellot's first submission  was Sexual Dependency (2003) which is, not incidentally, the first Bolivian film that I ever saw! Bellot's latest submission, I Miss You, is adapted from his own stage play, which was a massive hit in his home country turning him into a celebrity and reportedly inspired a friendlier climate for LGBT citizens in Bolivia. The film/play is inspired by a boyfriend he had who committed suicide. [Instagram]

Semi Kaplanoglu of Turkey is back with Commitment. He was previously submitted for Bal/Honey (2010)

Garen Nugroho of Indonesia behind the gay drama Memories of My Body this year was previously submitted for Leaf on a Pillow (1998)

Audrius Stonys, who codirected Bridges of Time, the Lithuanian documentary was previously submitted for a solo film, Ramin (2012)

Dito Tsintsadze who directed Georgia's Shindisi was also submitted with Mediator (2008) a decade ago

Marko Skop was previously submitted by Slovakia for Eva Nova (2016) and returns this year with Let There Be Light. Slovakia is still waiting on their first nomination at the Oscars though one Slovak-language picture won the Oscar (The Shop on Main Street, 1965) before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia became their own countries. (Slovakia's favourite director is Martin Sulik who they've submitted an incredible 7 times out of 23 submissions.)

There are a lot of female directors this year and we already discussed them so let it suffice to say that three are returning this year: Saudi Arabia's Haifaa al Mansour, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Ines Tanovic and Slovenia's Sonja Prosenc.

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka has now been submitted twice consecutively by South Africa. He was submitted last year for the historical Sew the Winter to My Skin and this year for the boxing drama Knuckle City. His next film will be an English language thriller called The White Devil about an American teen in a boarding school in London.


The rest of this year's directors are enjoying the honor of representing their home country for the first time!



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Reader Comments (8)

Has anyone seen The Whistlers? I was thinking of going to it at our local film festival later this month. It sounds intriguing.

October 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

For some reason when I opened this I thought it was a Supporting Actress Smackdown panel announcement, and almost screamed because I thought Pedro was doing it.

October 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

John T -- ohgood god. can you imagine?

October 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Porumboiu is always worth a watch. By the way, it's Corneliu, not Cornelius.

October 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Actually, there are a whole lot more! Six men and two women!

You'd be forgiven for forgetting most of them, but any post on this subject would be remiss to leave out two outstanding directors- Dominican wunderkind José María Cabral and brave Saudi pioneer Haifaa al-Mansour!

José María Cabral is only 31, but "The Projectionist" is his third film in the Oscar race. His two previous entries- "Jaque Mate" and "Woodpeckers"- were among the most thrilling and entertaining films of their respective years and made the DR proud!

Haifaa al-Mansour starting making films in her native Saudi Arabia when cinemas were banned and women were virtually forbidden to be in charge of anything. Through her talent, determination and her connections to people in power, she broke glass ceilings and made Saudi Arabia's first-ever Oscar submission "Wadjda" and netted herself a Hollywood movie before returning home to "The Perfect Candidate".

Also returning for their second bite at the apple: Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey), Garin Nugroho (Indonesia), Sonja Prosenc (Slovenia), Audrius Stonys (Lithuania), Dito Tsintsadze (Georgia), and Federico Veiroj (Uruguay).


October 9, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterdzong2

dzong2 -- thanks for fact checking me. The post is updated! I figured I forgot someone in my mad rush but had no idea it was so many. yikes.

October 9, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Carlos Saura was also submitted once by Argentina. The film was Tango (1998), an Argentine-Spanish coproduction. Tango was nominated but lost to Life Is Beautiful.

Will you repeat the list of the most frequent actors appearing in submitted films? Please! Our Ricardo Darín has been submitted 8 times by Argentina: The Secret in Their Eyes won and Son of the Bride and Wild Tales were nominated. The year The Secret... won, Darín was also submitted by Spain for The Dancer and the Thief.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

José Maria Cabral look like Shia LaBeouf.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterharmodio

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