Wednesday, October 02, 2013

86th Academy Awards Foreign Language Film Submissions - Meet the Female Directors

October 12, 2013

The Academy published the list with 76 films that qualified to be considered for the foreign-language category and there are seventeen (17) female directors as even when one film by a film director was disqualified (Czech Republic) another film by a female director qualified (Lebanon). But as there are a record 76 submitted films, the proportion of female versus male directors goes down to 22% which is slightly lower than what usually goes on in most international cinema related events.

October 2, 2013
One day after the deadline we know that sixty-eight (68) films were announced as submission from a specific nation or territory; we still do not know if all films are going to be accepted but while we wait for the official AMPAS announcement let's review some relevant data. For starters there are seventeen (17) female directors that directed or co directed films that were submitted which "surprisingly" reflects the same proportion male-female from many festivals and cinema related events as 25% is about the ongoing average ratio.

Most interesting is to discover that several of the feature films are director's debut film or feature film, which is quite unusual as not many films/directors have the high honor of representing a nation in the most famous awards in the world. But more important is that several female directors are just beginning their career and we can expect them to become more masterful in the future.

No matter if they are starting their career or already have an established career almost all films have premiered in international festivals and some already have collected awards even when they are still traveling the festival circuit. So I would not be surprised if some will collect more honors in the few festivals that will close the year 2013.

These are the filmmakers that in 2013 are honored by having their film selected to represent a nation.

Haifaa Al-Mansour

Born in Saudi Arabia. Women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive, vote or work with men but one woman has become the country's first filmmaker to direct a film in her homeland, a Kingdom that does not have movie theaters. The success of her short films in the Gulf and around the world has inspired a new movement of independent filmmaking in the Kingdom. Al Mansour is well known for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women and providing a platform for their voices. Her debut feature film Wadja, besides surprisingly becoming Saudi Arabia's submission to 2014 Oscar, already has collected many international awards including several collateral awards at 2012 Biennale, the Dioraphte Award from 2013 Rotterdam fest and more. Many are predicting film could get a nomination but I'm thinking predictions come more from the story behind film than from the film itself.

Louise Archambault

Studied film production at Concordia University in Montreal, where she also completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in film. She cut her teeth as a sound trainee on the popular Quebec TV series “Lance et compte” and went on to work as a line producer on commercials before joining Roger Frappier’s Max Films, where she worked on such films as Manon Briand’s 2 secondes (1998). After continuing to work her way through the industry as a producer, assistant director, writer, cinematographer, on-set photographer and costume designer, she directed her third short film, Atomic Sake (1999), which won the 2000 Prix Jutra for Best Short Film and screened at more than one hundred film festivals worldwide.

Her first feature, Familia, opened the Canada First! programme at the 2005 Toronto fest and went on to share the Best Canadian First Feature Film award with Michael Mabott’s. Familia won the Claude Jutra Genie Award for Best Direction of a First Feature Film and earned seven other nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Direction and Screenplay. It was also named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2005 by an independent, national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.  Her second feature film, Gabrielle, won the Audience Award at Locarno and is Canada's 2014 Oscar entry.

Giedre Beinoriūte

Born in Vilnius, Lithuania and went to Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, Film and TV. Her work consists mainly of award winning short films and documentaries with perhaps her most international work being Gyveno senelis ir bobutė (Grandpa and Grandma) that collected honors all over the world. I am highly impressed with what I saw in Conversations on Serious Topics trailer which made me sure that documentary will be very interesting to see. Film is Lithuania submission to 2014 Oscar.

Ulrika Bengts

Studied film at the Dramatic Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. She is a Finnish film and theater director that has directed dozens of short films, TV series an documentaries. Iris is her feature film debut and The Disciple is her second feature that premiered at 2013 Montreal World Film Festival, a film that became Finland's submission to 2014 Oscar.

Nana Ekvtimishvili

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia (then USSR). She studied screen-writing and dramaturgy at the University of Film and Television “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam, Germany. In Bloom is her feature debut as a director but she has been writing and co-writing screenplays for other films including Simon Groß's Fata Morgana. Simon Groß is the film co director and co writer along Ekvtimishvili. Film has already collected an impressive amount of awards including CICAE Award at 2013 Berlinale and FIPRESCI Prize plus Golden Firebird Award at 2013 Hong Kong fest. It is Georgia's submission to 2014 Oscar.

Hannah Espia

A graduate of the University of the Philippines Film Institute, Hannah Espia started as an editor. As a director, she participated in the Tokyo Talent Campus in 2012 and the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2013. Espia’s debut short film Ruweda won the Audience Award at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. Transit is her debut feature film that became Philippines 2014 Oscar entry and already won several awards at 2013 Cinemalaya Independent Festival but film is just starting the festival circuit.

Olena Fetisova

Born in Kiev, Ukraine. She graduated from the Moscow Film School VGIK, 1987. She has been working in the film industry without interruption ever since as a producer, writer and director. Is the European Documentary Network and Ukrainian Filmmakers Union Member, 2009 Ukrainian State Film Award Winner, 2009 EAVE graduate. She has directed mainly award winning documentaries and Paradjanov is her debut feature film as a director along with co director Serge Avedikian. Film is Ukraine submission to 2014 Oscar and premiered in competition for 2013 Karlovy Vary's East of West Award.

Mira Fornay

Born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). Attended the FAMU in Prague and the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, UK, earning her diploma in 2004. In 2005 she was selected for the workshop of Iranian Director Abbas Kiarostami. Foxes (2009), her feature film debut, premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was also shown in Rotterdam. My Dog Killer is her second feature that went to win the 2013 Rotterdam Tiger Award and was submitted by Slovakia to Oscar 2014.

Meenu Gaur

Gaur is originally from Kolkata, India and moved to Pakistan four years ago; she is married to Mazhar Zaidi who produced Zinda Bhaag, Pakistan's Oscar submission. Film is co directed by Farjad Nabi. Meenu Gaur completed her PhD in Film and Media Studies from the University of London in 2010. She received the Felix scholarship and Charles Wallace Scholarship for the same. She is the co-editor of the book ‘Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change’, published by Routledge 2011 and distributed by OUP Pakistan. She has been associated as Faculty of the Institute of Womens Studies Lahore (IWSL) under the aegis of Feminist Institute and Publishing House ASR (Applied Social Research Resource Centre). She is also the co-director of the award winning documentary film, ‘Paradise On a River of Hell’.Presently, she is working on a documentary film on Karachi and has received the ‘Jan Vrijman Fund’ and ‘Göteborg Film Fund’ for the same.

Iram Haq

Norwegian-Pakistani actress, writer, singer and director. Sudied Art Direction at Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo. She has acted in the features Import-Export (05), Fallen Angels (08), and Tomme tønner (10). Her short film Trofast (Faithful) was a selection at 2004 Venice Film Festival. She wrote and directed the short film Little Miss Eyeflap (09) which won The Ellen Award at Aspen Shortsfest in 2010. I Am Yours (13) is her debut feature and Norway's submission to 2014 Oscar.

Judith Kaufmann

Born in Stuttgart, Germany. After graduating from the National College of Optics and Photographer in Berlin, she apprenticed as a photographer until in 1982 she focused on film. Kaufmann is the co director of Germany's submission to 2014 Oscar Two Lives along with Georg Maas and she's also the film cinematographer. It is her debut as a director but she is very well-known as a cinematographer and I'm sure many of you have seen perhaps one of her best works Four Minutes as well as extraordinary Die Fremde (When We Leave), Vivere and fantastic Fremde Haut (Unveiled).

Gabriella Pichler

Born in Huddinge, Sweden, left her job at the cookie factory to attend the School of Film Directing in Gothenburg. Her graduation project, short film Scratches went to win many local and international awards and her debut feature film Eat Sleep Die already won Best Direction and Best Screenplay at the 2013 Guldbagge Awards plus the Audience Award at 2013 Biennale. Have seen her debut film and found it with a very mesmerizing minimalist/realistic style that engages your attention slowly but once you are engaged does not release you even after film is over as you will think about story and film for a long while. Her film is Sweden's submission to 2014 Oscar.

Lucía Puenzo

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is the daughter of AMPAS nominated director Luis Puenzo but in my opinion she has already establish herself as a great director in her own right with her debut feature film 2007 Cannes Critics Week winner excellent XXY, and with her second film puzzling The Fish Child. So it is no surprise -for me- that her third film The German Doctor was 2013 Cannes Official Selection in the Un Certain Regard section but can't deny that was kind of a (big) surprise that the Argentinean Academy opted to send for Oscar consideration a film by a female director. Her latest film is one that I'm really looking forward to watch as highly enjoy her particular storytelling style.

Gracia Quejereta

Born in Madrid, Spain. Studied Ancient History at the a Universidad Complutense de Madrid but her father is well-known producer Elías Querejeta. Her first film related work was as director assistant to Carlos Saura. Perhaps her best known work is Siete Mesas de Billar Francés that collected many local awards, including Best Screenplay at 2007 San Sebastian Film Festival. Her latest feature film 15 años y un día not only is Spain's submission to 2014 Oscar but already won the Golden Biznaga for Best Film and the Silver Biznaga for Best Screenplay at Malaga Spanish Film Festival.

Dana Rotberg

Born in Mexico City and went to Mexico's Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. She currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand after living in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has worked in the three countries and perhaps her best known Mexican work is Angel of Fire that was the opening film in 1992 Cannes Directors' Fortnight; her best known Bosnian work is MGM Sarajevo. Man, God and The Monster a documentary that also was the opening film of the Cannes Directors' Fortnight but in 1994 and The Perfect Circle that took the same opening spot in 1997. Her first work in New Zealand is White Lies that the country submitted to 2014 Oscar.

Lara Saba

After graduating in 1994 with a degree in audio-visual [communications] from the Jesuit University in Beirut, worked as an assistant director on feature films with the directors Joanna Hadjithomas, Khalil Greig, Merzak Allouache, the English director Sally Potter and Jean-Claude Maqdisi. After 1998, I got to know documentary filmmaking and did several documentaries, including "Suspended Return", which was screened solely for the media. [ won an award for this film from the United Nations Development Programme]. Then, I traveled to France and worked on producing Egyptian films and children's films for the Al-Jazeera Children's Channel as well as French television channels. After returning to Lebanon, I did several documentary films, some about Lebanon's television archives and others about people who fought in the Lebanese war. Blind Intersections is her first feature film and Lebanon's submission to Oscar 2014.

Valeria Sarmiento

Chilean writer-director and editor who studied philosophy and filmmaking at the University of Chile in the 1960s. Based in Paris since 1974, her documentaries and feature films tend to address Latin American gender politics but she is probably best known as the regular editor and collaborator of her late husband Raoul Ruiz (1941-2011) with whom she shared the Chilean Art Critics Circle's Bicentennial Award for cinema in 2010. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988 and is often cited alongside Angelina Vásquez and Marilú Mallet as a key woman filmmaker of Chilean exile. A retrospective of her work as director was held at Stanford University in May 2008.

Lines of Wellington is an epic war film and television series that was conceived by her husband and after his dead she completed the film which was premiered in competition at 2012 Biennale and became Portugal submission to 2014 Oscar.

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