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Latin American happenings in the Oscar submission realm

by Nathaniel R

In the heat of festival season we're also getting continued news about the Oscar race for Best International Feature. In terms of South America we'd already heard about submissions from the Dominican Republic (The Projectionist), Ecuador (The Longest Night which is sometimes referred to as Mala Noche), Panama (Everybody Changes), and Uruguay (The Moneychangers). There are three more already announced that will likely have higher profiles due to familiar actors. Colombia has Monos starring Julianne Nicholson, Cuba has A Translator starring Rodrigo Santoro and of course there's Brazil's Un Certain Regard-winning melodrama The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao which feels like a probable finalist / possible nominee. It's very moving and accessible and Fernanda Montenegro (of Central Station fame) adds a last boost of melancholy and nostalgia to it in terms of Brazilian cinema and Oscar affections. To add to that stack of films we've just learned that Bolivia will submit the gay drama Tu Me Manques (I Miss You) which is based on a hit stage play about a father visiting the boyfriend of his dead son in New York City. It recently won the screenwriting award at OutFest. The director Rodrigo Bellott was submitted once before for his artsy college film Sexual Dependency (2003). The film stars Oscar Martinez (Wild Tales) as the estranged father, Fernando Barbosa as his son's boyfriend, and features Rossy de Palma who is, of course, beloved from many Almodóvar pictures.

After the jump the finalists announced for both Chile and Mexico. Which films will they choose we wonder...


  • Dry Martina by Che Sandoval
    Dramedy about an aging pop star
  • Ema by Pablo Larraín
    A drama about an adoption that goes terribly wrong
  • The Man of the Future by Felipe Ríos Fuentes
    Drama about a truck driver and a young hitchhiker
  • Spider by Andrés Wood
    Political drama about three friends in the early 70s
  • Too Late to Die Young by Dominga Sotomayor Castillo
    Drama about teenagers in the summer and fall of 1990 in Chile


Pablo Larraín, one of the two most famous Chilean filmmakers (the other being Sebastian Lelio), has been submitted by the Mexican Academy four times to date, and nominated with No (2012), so we have to think that Ema has the automatic edge (we're seeing it very soon). Andrés Wood has also been chosen once (Violeta, 2011), but the other three directors would be first time submissions.  UPDATE 9/10: They have officially chosen SPIDER this year. 


Mexico finally won the Oscar last season with Roma on their 9th nomination. Interestingly, due to different eligibility requirements and release dates, two of Roma's chief competitors for Mexico's own Oscars the Ariels, The Chambermaid (currently in US release) and The Good Girls, could be submitted this year. The other titles are more mysterious to us though.

  • Belzebuth by Emilio Portes
    Horror film about a detective investigating a school massacre
  • The Chambermaid by Lila Avilés
    Drama about a housekeeper  in a luxury hotel. Currently in US release
  • Chicuarotes by Gael García Bernal
    Drama about teenagers in Mexico City
  • This is Tomas by Maria Torres
    A dramedy about a brother and sister at a wedding
  • Eight Out of Ten by Sergio Umansky
    Romantic drama about a couple seeking justice for two different crimes
  • Esmeralda's Twilight by Ehécatl Garage
    Drama about a widow's relationship with a pet pig. The actress was nominated at the Ariel Awards
  • The Good Girls by Alejandra Márquez Abella
    A wealthy couple wrestle with an economic crisis in 1982. This won Best Costume Design at the Ariel Awards and was nominated in virtually every category
  • The Mongolian Conspiracy by Sebastián del Amo
    A crime thriller about the Mexican police and an attempted assassination of the US president
  • Olimpia by José Manuel Cravioto and Gabriel Mariño
    Thriller about students caught up in a movement in 1968
  • Solteras by Luis Javier Henaine
    Comedy about a wannabe bride seeking a husband


Of these filmmakers only Sebastian del Amo has been submitted before (Catinflas, 2014) though Gael García Bernal, in the director's chair for Chicuarotes, is of course well known to Hollywood and the Academy for his many great performances in front of the camera and starring roles in various Oscar nominated films.  

Oscar charts in foreign film

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Reader Comments (5)

Las Niñas Bien (The Good Girls) also won the Ariel Award for Best Actress for Ilse Salas who won over the Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio for Rome.
I wish Ilse Salas had a chance at the Oscars for Las Niñas Bien.

September 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterharmodio

Is Dry Martina the best title of the year?

I have only heard raves about Las niñas bien.

September 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I am brazilian and I want everyone to know that the representation of 'Invisible Life' was not unanimous as may you all could think.

There was four votes for Bacurau, four for Invisible Life and a Minerva vote for Invisivle Life. The commite who choose brazilian nominee was not very happy in the press conference. No word about the arguments each have with each other. Something really serious happened in that choice. Isabelle Huppert Palm D'Or for The White Ribbon? Maybe...

Some may think that Bacurau was the right choice (more risk, more brazilian, more cinema) and Invisibel Life a correct choice / awards bait choice (Fernanda Montenegro, Melodrama, universal story).

I hope



Be the nominees!

September 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJay

ps.: Some people really really really didn't liked the way Rodrigo Teixeira, producer of Invisible Life, worked to get the nomination: ask for Luca Guadagnino release a short video in support, speaking continuously about Fernanda Montenegro be in a key scene in the film, etc, etc, etc.

And Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles (directors of Bacurau) where least incisive.

September 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJay

ps.2: This is not the first time that a brazilian representation is not unanimous.

In 2001, Walter Salles 'Behind the sun' was selected, with a one week opening in september, and wide release in november / december (like Invisible Life). The name 'Oscar nominee' Walter Salles catch the atention of the commite, in front of two really well awarded pictures: To the left of the father (Luiz Fernando Carvalho, decided not nominated himself) and Brainstorm (Laiz Bodansky, today considered the best brazilian film of that year);

In 2007, Cao Hamburger 'The year were my parents went on vacation' was the brazilian choice in front of 'Love for Sale' (Karim Ainouz) and 'Elite Squad' (Jose Padilha, golden bear in Berlin). The decision to choose 'Vacation'? 'More Academy friendly: children, brazilian history during Dictator time, football.

In 2014, 'The way he looks' was the brazilian choice in front of 'Futuro Beach' (Karim Ainouz once again). Once again the argument of 'More Academy friendly film' was used. Today, Futuro Beach is considered the best brazilian film of 2014.

In 2016, 'Aquarius' was not choosen because of the protest the cast and crew did in red carpet in Cannes.

I think the only unanimous choice we had was 'cinema, aspirins and vultures', in 2006. A movie that is considered the greatest brazilian in the past 26 years. Today, would be a major nominee fot international film, orginal screenplay, actors and cinematography.

September 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJay

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