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Entries in foreign films (312)


The 9 Foreign Language Oscar Finalists Are...

Congratulations to the nine films that proceed to the final stage towards an Oscar nomination. Six of these nine films were the top vote-winners from Academy's foreign film committee in Los Angeles (who screened these 80 films) after which the executive committee added three titles to the list (though which titles are which are never revealed to the public). A final committee will now screen these nine films and determine the five nominees to be announced on January 14th. It's an elaborate process that we love to follow each year. Catch up on all our coverage and see the charts

Links go to past articles on the films if we've written any 

Viva has been keeping a low profile but those who've seen it have raved.

  • Belgium (7 nominations) The Brand New Testament, Jaco Van Dormael
  • Colombia (never nominated) Embrace of the Serpent, Ciro Guerra (opens 2/17)
  • Denmark (13 noms | 3 wins) A War, Tobias Lindholm (opens in 2016)
  • Finland (1 nomination) The Fencer, Klaus Härö, director
  • France (36 noms | 9 wins | 3 honorarys)  Mustang, Deniz Gamze Ergüven (now playing)
  • Germany (18 noms | 3 wins) Labyrinth of Lies, Giulio Ricciarelli (now playing)
  • Hungary (8 noms | 1 win) Son of Saul, László Nemes (opens tomorrow!)
  • Ireland (never nominated) Viva, Paddy Breathnach (opens 2/5)
  • Jordan (never nominated) Theeb, Naji Abu Nowar (now playing)

Happy Day!
Embrace of the Serpent and Mustang are both sensational pictures that more people need to discover. Go see Mustang quick! Theeb and Labyrinth of Lies are surely leaving theaters soon to so this might be your last week. If Mustang is nominated it will end France's longest drought without a nomination ever. That will be ironic since it's mostly a Turkish film. Though France is the most nominated country of all time, they haven't been honored for the past five years and their last win was 23 years back with the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve epic Indochine (1992).which was popular enough to secure a Best Actress nomination, too. 

Hungary's Son of Saul has been the expected frontrunner for months 

Four of the nine finalists are from first time feature directors! That'd be Son of Saul, Mustang, Theeb, and Labyrinth of Lies 

Only one of the finalists is directed by a woman (Mustang) -- 13 of the 80 films in the running had female directors or co-directors. All of the LGBT films (Thailand, Lithuania, Greece, and The Dominican Republic) were cut but for Ireland's Viva (which is set entirely in Cuba) about a boy who wants to become a drag performer. 

Will Finland get their second nomination ever with THE FENCER?

Fourth Time's The Charm?
Finnish director Klaus Härö has been submitted three previous times for Elina: As If I Wasn't There, Mother of Mine, and Letters to Father Jacob, but this is his first time in the finals. Will he finally be nominated? 

What's missing?
I mourn for The Second Mother, a film I really enjoyed that had a reasonably high profile, decent arthouse box office and strong reviews. Sweden's brilliant A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence would have probably needed a save from the Executive Committee but they didn't come through. I'm more surprised to see Iceland's Rams missing since it had been generating such positive word of mouth and was reportedly accessible, too. The biggest hit in US theaters from the competing films, Austria's Goodnight Mommy was also not selected. The film critics will surely be angriest to see Taiwan's The Assassin denied.

Which films are you rooting for? 


Foreign Film Long List Overachieving Recap!

If the Academy is on the same time table they were last year with the Foreign Language Film volunteer committee we should know the 9 finalists from the 80-wide foreign submission list before the weekend. But before we get there, let's look back on where we've been. It's the most coverage we've ever done for one of our favorite categories so we hope you've been reading along and trying to see what you could (these films are often elusive, we know). 

Much thanks to Jose who has been invaluable in seeking out interviews. Catch up on the coverage like so...

"everything u ever wanted to know about the foreign film category *...but were afraid to ask" Pt 1 81 Trailers | Pt 2 Female Directors & Debuts | Pt 3 Zoology | Pt 4 I know that face! | Pt 5 More Trivia!


embrace of the serpent

Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent  REVIEW  & INTERVIEW
France, Mustang REVIEW & INTERVIEW 
Hungary, Son of Saul  REVIEW & INTERVIEW  
Jordan, Theeb INTERVIEW  


goodnight mommy


Afghanistan, Utopia DISQUALIFIED | Albania, Bota | Algeria, Twilight of Shadows 
Argentina, The Clan  REVIEWED | Australia, Arrows of the Thunder Dragon 
Austria, Goodnight Mommy INTERVIEW | Bangladesh, Jalal’s Story 
Belgium, The Brand New Testament | Bosnia and Herzegovina, Our Everyday Story
Brazil, The Second Mother INTERVIEW | Bulgaria, The Judgment
Cambodia, The Last Reel |  Canada, Félix and Meira INTERVIEW

Chile, The Club REVIEW | China, Go Away Mr. Tumor
Costa Rica, Imprisoned | Croatia High Sun | Czech Republic Home Care  
Dominican Republic, Sand Dollars  REVIEW & INTERVIEW | Estonia, 1944
Ethiopia, Lamb | Finland, The Fencer | Georgia, Moira
Germany, Labyrinth of Lies REVIEW & INTERVIEW 

Greece, Xenia | Guatemala, Ixcanul REVIEW | Hong Kong, To the Fore
 Iceland, Rams | India, Court | Iran, Muhammad: The Messenger of God
Iraq, Memories on Stone | Ireland, Viva
Israel, Baba Joon REVIEW | Italy, Don't Be Bad INTERVIEW 
Ivory Coast, Run | Japan, 100 Yen Love |  Kazakhstan, Stranger
Kosovo, Babai | Kyrgyzstan, Heavenly Nomadic | Latvia, Modris | Lebanon, Void

Lithuania, Summer of Sangaile | Luxembourg, Baby (A)lone | Macedonia, Honey Night
Malaysia, Men Who Save the World | Mexico, 600 Miles INTERVIEW 
Montenegro, You Carry Me | Morocco, Aida | Nepal, Talakjung vs Tulke
Netherlands, The Paradise Suite | Norway, The Wave REVIEW & INTERVIEW
Pakistan, Moor | Palestine, The Wanted 18 | Paraguay, Cloudy Times | Peru, NN
Philippines, Heneral Luna INTERVIEW  | Poland, 11 Minutes
Portugal, Arabian Nights - Vol 2 REVIEW |Romania, Aferim! | Russia, Sunstroke

Serbia, Enclave | Singapore, 7 Letters | Slovakia, Goat INTERVIEW
Slovenia, The Tree | South Africa, The Two of Us | South Korea, The Throne
Spain, Flowers INTERVIEW | Sweden, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch... REVIEW
Switzerland, Iraqi Odyssey | Taiwan, The Assassin REVIEW & GOLDEN HORSE
Thailand, How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) | Turkey, Sivas
United Kingdom, Under Milk Wood | Uruguay, A Moonless Night INTERVIEW
Venezuela, Gone With the River | Vietnam, Jackpot

the assassin



Interview: The Actress & Director of "The Second Mother," Brazil's Oscar Hopeful

As 2015 winds down, let's turn a spotlight on one of the year's best foreign films, Brazil's Oscar submission The Second Mother. After a successful limited US release in late summer, it's now available to watch on VOD. And watch it you should. The film centers on a housekeeper named Val (a terrific Regina Casé) who is reunited with her estranged teenage daughter after many years apart. The daughter's sudden presence wreaks havoc on the the dynamics of Val's relationship to the family that employs her. It's a rich film with humor, sadness and insight.

This interview with writer/director Anna Muylaert and the film's star Regina Casé is edited for clarity because some of it was conducted through a translator. I hope you'll be intrigued enough to check out the film.

NATHANIEL: Anna, since you wrote and directed, let's start with you. What prompted you to do this? Was it personal interests in these topics like parenting, and socioeconomic divisions

ANNA MUYLAERT: It started with me when I had a son. I was interested in talking about the importance of the work of motherhood, and at the same time how it was not valued in our society. And then character of the nanny came about, and then of course, the socioeconomic issues came.

NATHANIEL: Was it hard to find Val? Did you have Regina in mind when you were creating her?

more after the jump...

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Interview: Director Maxime Giroux on the Adult Romance of Canadian Oscar Submission 'Félix and Meira' 

Jose here. In the sensitive romance, Félix and Meira, Hadas Yaron and Martin Dubreuil, play the title characters, two lovers who bond through their loneliness, but must struggle with their very different backgrounds, and the fact that she’s married to someone else. An insightful look at Montreal’s Hasidic community, the film is peculiar for its restraint and might be one of the most memorable romantic films in recent years. Director Maxime Giroux paints a unique portrait of people seeking connections that go beyond typical “movie love”. I spoke to him about the film’s origins, casting his leading lady, and being in the race for Oscar.

JOSE: At the beginning of the year I spoke to Luzer Twersky who told me the film originally was supposed to be a comedy. How did you end up with such a subdued romantic drama instead?

MAXIME GIROUX:It’s funny, when we started to imagine the movie, I’d just made a dark movie and I wanted to make a comedy. The more we talked about this community and understood it, the more obvious it became it would be difficult to make a comedy, because people like Luzer for instance, who leave the community, have a hard time making that decision. A comedy about that would not have been easy to make.

JOSE: He said instead what you ended up with was making the movie that best captured the Hasidic experience.

MAXIME GIROUX: He would know that better than me, I never lived in that community (laughs).

More after the jump...

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Interview: Valerio Mastandrea on Completing Italy's Oscar Submission After the Untimely Death of Its Director

Jose here. One could argue that most films go through an interesting trajectory, since it’s never easy to turn the initial pages on a script into moving images projected on a screen. However, few films in recent years have gone through the journey of Claudio Caligari’s Don’t Be Bad, which not only was the director’s third film in thirty years (take that Terrence Malick), but sadly turned out to be his last. Caligari, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, shot the film and had completed most of its editing, when he died at the age of 67 never seeing the final product. What followed was a true labor of love, as Caligari’s colleagues, led by actor Valerio Mastandrea who had starred in his second film, The Scent of the Night, completed the project and made sure it became available to audiences.

Don’t Be Bad made its debut at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and was subsequently selected as Italy’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. With a plot that seems inspired by Pasolini and Steinbeck, Don’t Be Bad, is a heartbreaking reminder that we won’t see any more films by Caligari, but it’s also a testament to his unique brand of sociopolitical filmmaking. I had the chance to attend a screening of the film in New York and listening to Mastandrea’s sincere admiration and love for Caligari and the film were awe-inspiring.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Interview: Ivan Ostrochovsky on Directing the Slovak Oscar Submission 'Koza'

Jose here. As Creed gains popularity in the awards season, it would be fascinating to juxtapose it with Ivan Ostrochovsky's Koza, the Slovak Foreign Language submission which also happens to be about a boxer. The main difference with both films is that in the very American Creed, boxing is a noble enterprise used by the hero to reclaim his position among the "gods" (it's no accident that in such an Oedipal drama, the leading character's name is Adonis). In Ostrochovsky's film, boxing is the means by which the leading character (played by real life boxer, and former Olympian, Peter Balaz) who goes by the nickname Koza (which means "goat") is trying to raise money to prevent his wife from having an abortion. 

Formally exquisite, and with a running time of a little over an hour, showing how great editing proves that less is indeed more, Koza is an exemplary work of art that combines documentary filmmaking and drama. Its un-romantic look at sports might prove revelatory to some (it certainly did to me) and Ostrochovsky's deep humanism should place him as a director to keep an eye on. He was also kind enough to answer a few questions I had about the film, including how he directed Balaz, and what an Oscar nomination might mean for his career.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Interview: Director Gabriel Ripstein on Mexican Oscar Submission '600 Miles', and Working with Tim Roth

Jose here. I spoke to 600 Miles director Gabriel Ripstein minutes after an earthquake hit Mexico City on November 23rd and unexpectedly became the bearer of bad news when I asked him if his family was alright. Mr. Ripstein wasn’t aware there’d been an earthquake, but calmly added “no news is good news”. His serene demeanor reminded me of the tone of his film, a weapon-trafficking tale which could’ve easily become a sensationalist drama, but instead goes for an understated, thoughtful approach. The film stars Tim Roth as an American ATF agent who is kidnapped by a Mexican weapons smuggler played by Kristyan Ferrer (who audiences will know from Sin Nombre).

Ripstein allows his actors to revel in the humanity of these characters and delivers a film that goes beyond “odd couple” clichés, to comment on an issue that doesn’t get as much coverage as the war on drugs or terrorism. Because of its confident pacing and bold mise-en-scene, one wouldn’t guess from watching the film, that it also happens to be Ripstein’s directorial debut (it won the award for Best First Feature at the Berlinale), and yet, the first time filmmaker impressed members of the Mexican Film Academy so much that they submitted his film as their Oscar entry. I spoke to Ripstein about working with Roth, the incredible cinematic legacy of his family, and what an Oscar nomination might mean for his career. 

Read the interview after the jump...


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