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Saturday, October 19, 2019

#Oscars2020 International Feature Fillm Entries Comments


Next Oscars show is on February 9, 2020 and one of the most interesting categories for me is the one that used to have the name "Foreign Language Film" and now has a more hybrid name, "International Feature Film".

My interest comes because truly love World Cinema and usually this Oscars category lists the best of the best in cinema from each country; also is a list that undoubtedly helps to identify films that skipped anybody's radar.

Not every year have time or energy to dissect the list but seems this year have time to spare so will explore some fun facts from the list that can be found here.

A Record
The 92nd Oscars country submissions are ninety-three (93) and it is a new record, as old record was ninety-two in 2017.  There has been a few discussions on which films will/could not be accepted due to production or creative control but also because there is too-much English.  Most interesting is to find that list deleted only ONE film, Afghanistan and none of the films in question were touched and all are in the list.  My question is that Academy press release clearly state is a list of submissions and do not say if all were "accepted"; a few years back, when official list was released at least 15 days -if not more- after deadline, AMPAS press release stated list was of accepted films.  So, wonder what happens now when Committee members watch films, if they disqualify them or not.

Still, it's a record and I'm very glad to learn mainly about movies from African countries as well as a few from Asia.

Films
Out of the 93 submissions, seven (7) are documentaries and two (2) are animation.   As far as I can tell, seems this year there are many documentaries and probably could be a record number but it's not easy to confirm it.  Still, from my own database, in 2009 there was 1 documentary, 2010 none, 2011 two, 2012 two,  2013 none, 2014 one, 2015 three, 2016 two, 2017 four, 2018 two, and 2019 six.  So, according to this data and since 2009, 2020 absolutely establishes a record of seven (7) documentaries as films submitted for consideration of The Academy.

Animation films as submissions to IFF Oscars category have been not common, usually each year has one or two and this year is no exception.

Film Festivals

Not surprisingly Cannes is the film festival with more submissions to Oscars 2020, fifteen (15) and this year fest top three prizes (Palme d'Or, Grand Prix and Jury Prize) were submitted by South Korea, Senegal and France.  Also the Camera d'Or was submitted by Belgium and the Best Actor winner by Spain.  Other countries with Cannes films are Algeria, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Palestine, Romania, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine.

Berlin and Venice festivals follow with 9 and 8 respectively.  Both fests have submissions from current year and last year, Berlinale has 8 from 2019 and 1 from 2018; Biennale Cinema has 6 from 2019 and 2 from 2018.

So, out of the 93 submissions thirty-two (32) are films premiered in one of the three major film festivals in the world.  There are at least 13 more films that were screened in other film festivals and among them is the 2018 Heart of Sarajevo winner (Bulgaria), 2019 Locarno Piazza Grande Award winner (Netherlands),  2018 Pardo d'Oro award winner (Singapore), and 2019 Karlovy Vary Best Actor Award winner (Slovakia). As in list did not included many films screened in other festivals but not awarded a prize, can only conclude that from all submissions a bit more than half are films screened in film festivals around the world.

Do believe that film participation in any of the three major film festivals is like getting a seal of higher quality; then, other festivals also mean quality but in a different level.  Of course I try to watch everything from film festivals, so it's no surprise that up-to-this moment have already seen many and from those I have seen no doubt that South Korea (Parasite) and Spain (Dolor y Gloria) are two that deserve higher accolades.

Female Directors

Lately world nations have decided more and more to send films by female directors and this year is no exception as there are twenty-seven (27) films by female directors.  Seems it's a record as in 2017 there were twenty-six (26) films with female directors.

From the 93 entries, female directors represent 30% which is slightly higher from the usual 25% in film awards nominations or festival selections.  Somehow this is a positive trend with a proportion hopefully will increase even more in the near future.

LGBT Storytelling

Can help but start with the most incredible situation, Russia is a country that prosecutes its LGBT community and who knows what happened, but local Oscar selection committee decided to submit a film that was in the 2019 Queer Palm competition!  On top seems it has some lesbian interest theme.  Even read in local press (with the help of a good translator) that responsible Government Minister approved the film!  Outstanding!

But there are more main gay interest films like films from Spain (Dolor y Gloria), Bolivia (Tu Me Manques),  Colombia (Monos),  Indonesia (Memories of My Body),  Panama (Todos Cambiamos), Peru (Retablo), Sweden (And Then We Danced), and Taiwan (Dear Ex).  Believe is year with many gay interest films and not sure is a record as there have other years with a high number of films with this kind of interest.

Then the worst case scenario happened when France decided not to send lesbian interest Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Unbelievable. Sigh.

Streaming Services

Oscars current edition has for the first time ever many submissions that are available in streaming services, especially Netflix.  Below find the list with country and film available for Netflix and Prime.  Please remember that not all films have worldwide rights, so not all can be available for all countries and unfortunately have no way to tell in which countries/regions films can be seen.

Netflix
Austria (Joy), Nigeria (Lionheart), Senegal (Atlantics -in November 29-), Singapore (A Land Imagined), Spain (Dolor y Gloria),  Taiwan (Dear Ex), Thailand (Inhuman Kiss), UK (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind), and Vietnam (Furie)

Prime (Amazon)
India (Gully Boy)

Admit that I'm delighted to find that films from countries that are not easy to find to watch, now become "immediately" available and yes, there are a few I can see in my Netflix region and of course, already saw India submission.  Did not enjoy much Vietnam entry but liked Taiwan and UK submissions.

French productions and co-productions

Believe it or not each year the French top the chart with more nation submissions that are majority or minority French productions.  According to Unifrance in addition to Les Miserables, which is France's entry, there are seventeen (17) French co-productions with four (4) of these titles being majority-French co-productions.

Algeria: Papicha by Mounia Meddour (High Sea Production, The Ink Connection, Same Player)
Belgium: Our Mothers by César Diaz (Perspective Films)
Bulgaria: Ága by Milko Lazarov (Arizona Productions)
Colombia: Monos by Alejandro Landes (Le Pacte)
Egypt: Poisonous Roses by Fawzi Saleh (Haut Les Mains Productions)
Italy: The Traitor by Marco Bellocchio (Ad Vitam)
Luxembourg: Tel Aviv on Fire by Sameh Zoabi (TS Productions)
Morocco: Adam by Maryam Touzani (Les Films du Nouveau Monde)
Palestine: It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman (Rectangle Productions)
Philippines: Verdict by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez (Playtime, Films Boutique Production)
Poland: Corpus Christi by Jan Komasa (Les Contes Modernes)
Portugal: The Domain by Tiago Guedes (Alfama Films Production)
Romania: The Whistlers by Corneliu Porumboiu (Les Films du Worso, Arte France Cinéma)
Senegal: Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story by Mati Diop (Les Films du Bal)
Singapore: A Land Imagined by Siew Hua Yeo (Films de Force Majeure)
Sweden: And Then We Danced by Levan Akin (Ama Productions)
Tunisia: Dear Son by Mohamed Ben Attia (Tanit Films)

Even if 18 films seem a lot is not a record and is far from beating the 2017 record when there were 27 French co-productions submitted for consideration to then Foreign-Language category, which represented 32% of all entries (92).   Worth mentioning that if you read Unifrance article here will notice that when written they considered Afghanistan submission but film was deleted in AMPAS official list.

That's it.

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