Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2009 Oscar Foreign Language Film Submissions – News

According to different sources this week the Academy will publish the official list that will allow me to do the last and final update to the list I’ve been doing. But there are some interesting news that I feel like sharing with you.

Here is an excerpt for an article by Anthony Kaufman from IndieWire.

From Bangladesh to Vietnam, nearly 100 countries were invited to submit films for this year's foreign-language Oscar race. (The official list of titles will come out this week.) Notoriously, the category is one of the most unpredictable - last year, leading contenders "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days" and "Persepolis" were shafted, while entries from Poland, Israel and Russia surprisingly made the final cut. If this year's race may be one of the widest open in years, it may also turn out to be one of the most predictable due to a radical change in Academy regulations as a result of last year's "embarrassment," as one industry insider called it.

For the first time in the category's history, an executive committee of 20 members (from both coasts) will be able to compensate for any omissions in the first round of voting by adding three additional films to the shortlist. Therefore, one would assume, Cannes winners and critical darlings will not be overlooked and the five final nominations will offer fewer surprises.

Definitively last year’s was a true “embarrassment” for the inadmissible omissions of those movies and as I’m able to watch more movies submitted last year, I find that there are other movies that should have been in the five nominations that also were excluded. So, I’m really glad that the Academy changed their rules and found a way to not to overlook great films.

I don’t agree with Kaufman when saying that the category could become predictable. Even if I haven’t seen most of the movies, I can say that even I admit that Gomorra is an excellent movie and just from trailers I imagine that The Class, Waltz with Bashir and Tulpan have to be good. Then I know (hope) that movies like Zift, Three Monkeys, Leonera, The Song of Sparrows and Snijeg could find their way into getting a nomination, but I know that they are not the regular selection unless their selection process is truly changed. If this happens, then definitively the category becomes not only non-predictable but also quite interesting for many people around the world.

If you read Kaufman article you will see that he ends his article by saying something that’s unfortunately true and I reproduce here.

Because, after all, for the foreign-language Oscar, it's not just about a film vying for the prize, but an entire country's pride at stake. The award may mean little to the average American consumer, but it can prove a powerful symbol for a national cinema.

Yes the average American consumer as well as the average “Any Country” consumer care so little beyond what it’s truly familiar to them, including foreign cinema. But this has to be changing as more and more world citizens have access to see amazing cinema from all over the world. Perhaps it’s time that the most prestigious cinema award in the world comes to realize it too.

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