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Sweden narrows down Oscar options: true story, sci-fi drama, or gay romance?

A few tidbits of note in the Best International Film competition at the forthcoming Oscars. Two countries have been approved to submit that never have before: Uzbekistan and Uganda! In other "U" alphabetized news, The Ukraine will select their film on August 23rd.

But the most speficic recent news is that Sweden has already whittled their possible submission down to three films, and one of them is basically a Georgian film (though Georgia definitely won't be submitting it as they do not approve). They are...

  • Aniara by Palla Kagerman & Hugo Lilja
    A sci-fi film about Mars settlers whose ship is knocked off course causing existential drama. Magnolia released it in the US back in May.
  • The Perfect Patient by Mikael Håfström
    This film, originally called Quick, is a true story about a judicial scandal in Sweden.  It opens in Sweden next montn. No US distribution yet. 

  • And Then We Danced by Levan Akin
    A gay romantic drama. This is actually in the Georgian language... but it ran into trouble in Georgia because of its subject matter. The director is Swedish-Georgian but born & raised in Sweden. The film premiered this summer at Cannes. It opens in Sweden next month. No US distribution yet. 

Of those three pictures Aniara has already played in US arthouses (where it made just $40k) but it's nominated for a Saturn Award for Best International Film Release (coincidentally, it's pitted against Sweden's Oscar submission from last season, Border, in that same category). The only one of these directors previously submitted by Sweden is Håfström whose film Evil (2003), about bullying at a boarding school, went on to a Oscar nomination. (Evil was one of those bizarre times when despite an Oscar nomination the film didn't open in the US until years thereafter when it was old news and it bombed at US arthouses)

Sweden has been nominated for the Oscar for Best International Film 16 times. Of those 16 pictures, 3 were Ingmar Bergman films (The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny and Alexander) all of which won the category (Sweden's only wins). Bergman also leads the list of "Most Submitted" directors for Sweden. They sent his films 8 times over the years. Though it's worth noting that Cries and Whispers was NOT submitted by Sweden but ended up nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. 

Sweden's Only Multiple-Times Submitted Directors

"The Seventh Seal" was the first Ingmar Bergman film ever submitted by Sweden. It was not nominated but two years later he won the category with "The Virgin Spring"

  1. Ingmar Bergman (8 submissions, 3 nominations / 3 wins)
    Bergman was also nominated at the Oscars in Best Director thrice (twice for films Sweden didn't submit for foreign films!) , for Screenplay four times, and for Best Picture once (Cries and Whispers, which Sweden did not submit). 
  2. Jan Troell (5 submissions, 3 nominations)
    One of Troell's Foreign Film nominees The Emigrants was also nominated in Best Picture and Best Director)
  3. Bo Widberg (4 submissions, 2 nominations)
  4. Roy Andersson (4 submissions... such a shame A Pigeon Sat on a Branch wasn't nominated)
  5. Ruben Ostlund (3 submissions, 1 nomination - The Square)
  6. Colin Nutley (3 submissions each)
  7. [TIE] Kjell Grede, Lukas Moodysson, and Kay Pollak (2 submissions each) 

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Reader Comments (14)

When I was in Sweden this summer, I kept hearing from people in the film industry how great AND THEN WE DANCED is. It hadn't even opened, but they'd seen it (It played at Bergman Week, and there were probably some industry screenings); they couldn't stop raving. One said "it's as good as CALL ME BY YOUR NAME."

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

Daniella -- ooh, this is good to hear.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Georgia won't submit it "no matter what", since they have already chosen to send Dito Tsintsadze's Shindisi

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarco70go

Bo Widerberg actually got 3 nominations (Ådalen ’31, Ravens End and All Things Fair).

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTobias

I've seen And Then We Danced and it is utterly charming. Calling it better than CMBYN is a bit dicey, but it shows such tenderness to its characters and is probably better than any LGBT film I've ever seen about showing how young queer folks meet one another through a series of subtle visual cues.

I worry that it's not as "serious" (or perhaps as "Swedish") as Aniara and so might lose out, but if it gets submitted, I think it could be a dark horse for a nomination. Regardless, LGBT folks worldwide who see it will fall in love like I did.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Does the old rule that the film has to be primarily in the language of the nation submitting the film still apply to the new "Best International Film" category? If so, I suspect And Then We Danced might be ruled ineligible....

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Joseph - No, it hasn't had to be in the same language for a while now. See: Austria winning for Haneke's Amour.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Joseph -- that rule was discontinued in the recent past... so it should b fine.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ah, thanks for the information! Cheers!

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

My friend didn't say AND THEN WE DANCED was "better" than CMBYN, Evan, she said it was "as good as". Small point, but there is a distinction.

August 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

Today, Denmark shortlisted 3 films:

* "Before the Frost", a 19th. Century drama from Papillon-director Michael Noer.
* "Queen of Hearts", starring Trine Dyrholm, and won the World Cinema audience Award at Sundance.
* "Daniel", based on a true story about a Danish photographer taken hostage by the Islamic State.

My guess is that "Daniel" will be the film selected.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael W.

By the way; The Danish Film Institute will select the film on september 24th.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael W.

Estonian Film Institute has chosen today the official representation to "Internation Film" category.
It is "Truth and Justice" (director Tanel Toom - Oscar nominee in 2011 for a short film "The confession" and the winner of Sudent Academy Awards in 2010 with that same short), just as expected.
This period drama - "Truth and justice", with a beautiful cinematography, is based on all time nr.1 novel by most beloved estonian writer of all time (in all the main Big Read type of votings, this book has always been voted to the first place and this writer is by far the most beloved in the country... every estonian has to read this book at school). The whole story is spread into 5 books and this film is based only on the first book. The story taking place in 1870's. I personally enjoyed the second, fourth and fifth volume of that book as some of my alltime favourite books. In Sweden, Wilhelm Moberg, who wrote the "The Emigrants"-saga (in four volumes) and the whole series of that story is kind of in the same status in Sweden. "The Emigrants" went on to be nominated for the forign language film Oscar.
IMDB average score of Truth and Justice is at the moment 9,3 and that says it all. It's a really good movie, although almost 3 hours...

August 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKris

South Korea has chosen "Parasite" and Germany has chosen "System crasher".
Denmark has 3 nominees amd they decide on the 24th of September:
"Queen of hearts" (Trine Dyrhom as the lead!)
"Before the frost"
"Do you see the moon, Daniel"

August 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKris

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