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Entries in foreign films (271)


EFA's Long List and Cannes/Oscar Crossover History

We already shared the EFA's People Choice nominees but it's important to remember that that's a special award, quite apart from their actual nominations. In their slightly tortured roll-out we get part two, the long list. These are the titles that form the "selection list"... they have to do it this way before nominations from a sheer numbers perspective. Add up the annual releases from dozens and dozens of countries and you have hundreds of films, you know? Here are the 52 films their nominators will be considering. We've divvied it up by country for you and if they're already a part of the Oscar race or on TIFF's schedule, we'll say so. The titles will be a mix of familiar to you and "what is that?" to anyone reading because who can keep up with every country's cinema?

Because there are so many films, though, it's all after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Biggest Foreign and Documentary Hits of the Year (Thus Far)

Since Labor Day Weekend is historically a lame box office weekend, it affords us a fine opportunity to look back at the year thus far rather than wait for box office results. Especially in terms of films that aren't usually spoken of in terms of box office. So let's look at two sets of baker's dozens: 2015'S FOREIGN LANGUAGE and DOCUMENTARY HITS.

*second* biggest-hits in Foreign & Documentary: "Baahubali: The Beginning" and "Amy"

How many have you seen?

Top Dozen of 2015 thus far
01 Bajrangi Bhaijaan (India) $8+
02 Baahubali: The Beginning (India) $6+ 
03 A La Mala (Mexico) $3+
04 Wild Tales (Argentina) $3+ Review
05 Dil Dhadakne Do (India)  $3+ 
06 Tanu Weds Manu Returns (India) $3+
07 Clouds of Sils Maria* (France)  $1+ Various Sils Maria Articles
08 Piku (India)  $1+
09 Assassination (South Korea) $1+
10 Phoenix (Germany) $1+ Nina Hoss Interview
11 i (India)  $1+
12 Timbuktu (Mauritania) $1+ Review, César Winners
13 Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Israel) $.9+ Review, Second Opinion

As we always see in the foreign charts in the past decade or so, Bollywood films continue to be solid imported hits without the benefit of any media attention whatsoever. That's what comes when you have distribution companies that cater to niche audiences and understand/market directly to them. This is surely what China Lion is attempting of late though they have yet to find as much regular support for Chinese language films. Aside from the Hindi language films, the top of the charts also painfully remind us that subtitled films have far teensier grosses even when they get breakout media attention than they once had. Wild Tales for example surely would have been at least a $13 million rather than a $3 million hit a decade ago. The chart also shows us that Oscar nominations help (see #4 and #12) but aren't necessary (see #10 and #13). 2015 hasn't yet had a breakout Oscar-headed hit like Ida from Poland last year (Phoenix was passed over for Oscar submission last year by Germany so it's been on its own without awards-buzz to find its audience. Happily, it's done just that). Sadly Sweden's sublime Oscar entry for this year A Pigeon Sat on a Branch... earned only $200,000 at the US box office. Maybe Labyrinth of Lies, Germany's submission, which opens September 25th can fill that semi-annual slot of foreign hit that doesn't wait for its Oscar fate to make a stir. 

* I'm fudging to include Clouds of Sils Maria I know. It's surely ineligible for France's Oscar submission as its more than 50% English. If you remove it from the list, the film that enters at the lowest rung is The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared from Swedish director Felix Herngren. It earned nearly a million at the US box office but was a huge hit internationally with an additional $50 million!

Top Ten of 2015 Thus Far
01 Monkey Kingdom $16+ 
02 Amy $8+ Review
03 The Salt of the Earth $1+ Documentary Nominees Conversation
04 Iris $1+
05 The Wolfpack $1+ Review
06 Dior & I $1+
07 Meru $.8+ 
08 Red Army $.6+
09 Best of Enemies $.6+ Review
10 Cartel Land $.6+
11 Seymour: An Introduction $.6+ Review
12 Deli Man $.5+
13 The Hunting Ground $.4+


The list includes only one of last year's Oscar nominees The Salt of the Earth since most of them played in their correct calendar year. The big story beyond Disney's nature epic and the Amy Winehouse hit, is the success of Sundance Award Winners since The Wolfpack, Cartel Land and Meru were all hits in release. The late Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) final full documentary feature Iris about eccentric fashion icon Iris Apfel was also well-received.

From this list we really expected Red Army to break out a little further as the Russian Olympic hockey documentary was quite entertaining and benefitted from a highly accessible international-interest storyline. If they hadn't waited for their Oscar nomination -- which they didn't get -- they might have fared better. 

Here's a crazy colorful musical number from the year's #1 foreign language hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan starring Salman Khan called "Selfie Le Le Re"

When was the last time you saw a Bollywood film in theaters? Do you seek out the buzz titles from these categories?


Official Foreign Film Submission Oscar Charts. Plus Trailers

Twenty-one Official Submissions for the 2015 Foreign Language Film Oscar race have been announced! That's just under a third of the list given the usual amount of submissions but things are already weird and wild with a colorful LGBT drama (Xenia from Greece), a disaster movie (The Wave from Norway), more documentaries than usual already including animated and 3D offerings (Palestine, Switzerland, and Panama), alongside your more usual type of competitor like World War II focused entries (Germany and Hungary, which I'm currently predicting for nominations) and historical epics (South Korea)

The foreign film charts are a major project each year behind the scenes and we're so proud to have raised the profile of this awards category over the past 15 years. The Film Experience was literally the first website to cover it in detail (all the way back to our humble beginnings) and slowly but surely the fever spread. As did all things Oscar. Now, everyone does it! It's no longer "ours" so to speak -- not that one can own an Oscar topic -- but we're still justified in feeling the pride of original adoption. And if we don't pat ourselves on the back who will since we get no damn respect from the larger online film culture. Ahem.

Greece's XENIA and South Korea's THE THRONE


Current Predictions and All Time Stats & Trivia on This Category


Afghanistan through Estonia
Will Brazil send The Second Mother? Will Argentina send festival-premiering crime drama The Clan? Info on Official entries from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and Croatia.
Ethiopia through The Netherlands
Mexico has a 14 film shortlonglist. Info on official entries from Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Luxembourg
New Zealand through Vietnam
Speculation on The Philippines. Info on official entries from Norway, Palestine, Panama, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela


Click to read more ...


European Film Awards - Vote for the 'People's Choice'

Have you ever been to Berlin? The annual European Film Awards will be held there this year just 102 days. As part of their annual tradition if you vote on their People's Choice Awards you can be entered to win a trip to the show.

This year's People's Choice slate (the only category thus far announced) feels slightly more "behind" than usual or perhaps we misremember past years? Generally the EFA titles are a mix of current and previous Oscar seasons (due to scattered release dates) but this year's batch feels especially 2014 heavy. On the down side this means it's less helpful in seeing which films are making inroads to general critics prizes and Oscar love down the road... in that they already have or haven't. On the plus side, potential voters will have seen more of them. YOU CAN VOTE RIGHT HERE... They also have an official facebook page up now.

The 10 Nominees...  

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence d. Roy Andersson
    Just announced as Sweden's Oscar submission! This auteur's unique 'vignettes in absurdist tableaus' sensibility must be experienced to be believed. Reviewed / Best of 2015 (Thus Far)
  • Force Majeure d. Ruben Östlund
    Sweden's acclaimed awards magnet was a big Oscar snub in the Foreign Film category last season... though it was up for Best Film at the EFAs. Is the American remake still planning to go ahead despite being a terrible idea? Reviewed / Blurbed / Top 20 of 2014 
  • The Imitation Game d. Morten Tyldum
    Last year's Best Picture contender qualifies as European because...? Perhaps it's the Norwegian director. But it's a US/UK production so it feels strange to see it here. Past Articles.  
  • Leviathan d. Andrey Zvyaginstev
    Russia's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning hit last season. Past Articles.
  • Marshland d. Alberto Rodríguez
    A serial killer drama from Spain.

  • Samba d. Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano
    Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg headline this French film about a struggling Senegalese immigrant and a woman trying to get her life back together
  • Serial (Bad) Weddings d. Philippe de Chauveron
    A French comedy about a Catholic couple whose four daughters all get married to men of different origins and religions
  • The Salt of the Earth d. Wim Wenders & Juliano Riberio Salgada
    Best Documentary Nominee at the Oscars. On the international journeys of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Discussed
  • Victoria d. Sebastian Schipper
    Winner of 6 Lola Awards. Germany couldn't really select this hard-partying drama about a girl who gets mixed up in a bank robbery for their Oscar submission -- too much English in it -- but it's won raves and a lot of attention for its one take trick. That's right, a 140 minute movie all in one continuous shot without Birdman's tricks. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau star and took the German Oscars (the Lolas) for Best Actress and Best Actor.
  • White God d. Kornél Mundruczó
    Hungary's Oscar submission last season (not nominated), an allegorical film featuring rampaging packs of wild dogs, has been riveting moviegoers since its 2014 Cannes debut. Now on DVD. Reviewed / Interview

I'll have to choose between the two Swedish films for my personal vote. Who gets yours?



Germany's Submissions for Oscar Consideration

Having had no luck scoring a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar since Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon six years ago, Germany has just announced the shortlist for consideration as the country's entry for the 88th Academy Awards. The eight films listed are:

  • 13 Minutes (Elser) by Oliver Hirschbiegel
  • Head Full of Honey (Honig im Kopf) by Til Schweiger
  • Jack by Edward Berger
  • Labyrinth of Lies (Im Labyrinth des Schweigens) by Giulio Ricciarelli
  • Sanctuary (Freistatt) by Marc Brummund
  • Schmidts Katze by Marc Schlegel
  • Victoria by Sebastian Schipper
  • We Are Young. We Are Strong. (Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark.) by Burhan Qurbani

Let's take a closer look...

Click to read more ...


Nina Hoss on Searching for the Soul and Identity in 'Phoenix'

Jose here.

In her six films with director Christian Petzold, Nina Hoss has explored the roles women have played in German history during the twentieth century, in Jerichow she played a postmodern femme fatale trying to convince an Afghanistan veteran to kill for her, in Wolfsburg she played a mother being wooed by the man who ran over her son, in Barbara she was a doctor trying to escape East Germany in the 1980s, and in the post-WWII set Phoenix, which might be their greatest collaboration to date, she plays Nelly, a former cabaret singer who survived a Nazi concentration camp, but was left brutally deformed. As she tries to reclaim her past life through a surgery described as a recreation, rather than a reconstruction, she must come to terms with the fact that she is now living in a world that has very little to do with the one she left behind.

Hoss’ layered performance as Nelly is the kind of work that should be garnering awards buzz, as it helps her establish herself as one of the best living actresses, and places her as Petzold’s greatest collaborator, rather than his muse. In 2014, English speaking audiences got their first taste of Hoss’ brilliance as she managed to steal the show in A Most Wanted Man and Homeland (her character is returning for Season 5) and asPhoenix makes its Stateside debut, it’s about time we all start talking about Hoss more frequently. I had a chance to talk to her to discuss her work in Phoenix and how it relates to classic Hollywood films, as well as her preferred acting method and the career path she might take years from now.

Our interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Best Shot Visual Index: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

I was so certain that I owned Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that I didn't bother to rent it at all for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode. Come Tuesday night I discover that my dvd had vanished into the clouds after apparently leaping from its perch near the top of the dvd shelf. Worse still it's not available for rental on iTunes or Amazon but only for purchase and if I'm going to purchase something I still want the physical object. Old school! Which means that I will be late yet again with my own entry as the host which is all but inexcusable but par for the course this week (experiencing meltdowns backstage - this too shall pass?). But an unexpected development, just this week the sequel -- the reason we were doing this, was moved back to 2016 from its expected August bow.

But please do visit these articles elsewhere on Ang Lee's much Oscar nominated, much earning, much ripped off classic. I know I will. The film won 4 Oscars including cinematography for Peter Pau and probably just missed the Best Director win too since Ang Lee took the Globe, DGA and BAFTA that year. Imagine if he'd taken the Oscar that year. He'd have 3 wins by now.

(click on the pics for corresponding articles)

 Almost like Cupid’s arrow...?
-I Am Derreck 

When you look at this image, you could easily mistake the film for a traditional Western... 
-Film Actually  

That Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon focuses on the traditionally Chinese conflict between reason (li) and emotion (qing) is unsurprising, the way the movie expresses the conflict through images, however, is anything but. 
- Coco Hits NY

 If I made a list of ‘top 10 overrated movies’ this would definitely make that list...
-54 Disney Reviews

a portrayal of love as the light in the darkness...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Lee's romanticism is also utilized simply to make interesting, unexpected choices... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it, since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous...
-Movie Motorbreath 

It's all about Zhang Ziyi. For someone so small, she has immense screen presence...
-Sorta That Boy 

Where is Michelle Yeoh's international superstardom?
-Paul Outlaw

And finally...

Nathaniel's Placeholder Best Shot
For the record, in closing, this is the single image that my mind races to first when I am reminded of the film. I'm not saying it will be my "best" upon a close rewatch inspection, but I remember the whole scene vividly and fondly and the entire movie felt this way to me the first time I saw it; a magical film transcending the standard laws, balancing delicately and easily in the treetops while breathing rarified instant-classic air.

I'll update this list when more articles come in including my own - you should still join us since the sequel is delayed and we can continue to add articles. Perhaps I'll choose a shot from each half hour as penance? It's been so long since I've seen it and I'm eager to have it memorized again before the possibly ill advised sequel arrives which is no longer next month but early 2016.

Sunset Blvd (1950). But you can't choose the infamous "close-up" for Mr DeMille at film's end so if that's your shot your choice must be "second best shot". I am starting on this one FRIDAY so that there is no way in hell I'll be late for my own event next Wednesday. If you've always wanted to try "best shot," here's you classic opportunity with a film from Old Hollywood about Even Older Hollywood that nonetheless never gets old. 

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