Monday, August 10, 2020

93rd Academy Awards International Feature Film Submissions

Update: January 29th, 2021. Finally AMPAS released the much-awaited official list and to my surprise was not the list of accepted films but is the list of submitted films. As a matter of fact now AMPAS calls it "films that are eligible for consideration"; so, we can assume that indeed is the list of accepted films. Sigh.

There are ninety-three (93) eligible films being considered for the International Feature Film category and yes, those 93 countries/films are the same as the list that leaked a few weeks later. It's a milestone as establishes a new submissions record as previous one was 92 entries in 2018. Not bad for a year where everyone was expecting very low film related activity; but, as I suspected, 2020 entries were going to be high and will be next year when probably submissions could go to an unexpected low.

For unknown reasons this year the Academy did not manage well information releases and as a consequence there are many information holes that can't be filled; for example, why Bhutan and Algeria submissions are not in the final list. We already know the complicated Uzbekistan story (probably was deadline miss) and Belarus disqualification due to very-low country production content. Also know about Canada and Portugal disqualifications due to too-much English and surprisingly, both countries were allowed a substitution. Not a good precedent as seems some countries are allowed to break rules, while others are not.

It's not clear for me yet why 2020 had that much female directors activity around the world, but it happen and it took a pandemic year to finally find reasons to honor female directors with distinctions in film festivals, awards and even in this international cinema Oscars category as there are thirty-two (32) countries with films directed or co-directed by female directors and in total, there are thirty-three (33) female directors as Swiss entry is co-directed by 2 female directors. Most interesting is that out of the 32 films, only four (4) are co-directed, the rest, 28, are directed by only a female director. All these figures are truly incredible and an outstanding milestone is finally achieved. When checking percentages, 32 films means a 34% distribution, which also is a record as usually most female-oriented film festivals and other film related events assign between 20% to 25%. Remarkable. Please notice in below list films directed by a female director are in BLUE.

As most films were produced in 2019 and many were premiered at international film festivals both during 2019 as well as in 2020; as before, include data for major festivals with emphasis in the main three international festivals, Cannes, Venice and Berlin, but this year there is some info about other film festivals. Is in this section where I believe we see the true effects of the Pandemia and the world film industry as for the first time since I record info for this Oscars category, most submissions come from Venice International Film Festival and not from Cannes. There are seven (7) films from Cannes, four from 2020 and three from 2019 while Venice has twenty (20) films, 13 from 2020 and 7 from 2019. There are 5 films from 2020 Berlinale which gives us a total of 32 films from the three main film festivals and represents 34% of all Oscars entries. In total, around half of the 93 submissions come from a film festival and some are top award winners.

Earlier this year, the Academy's Board of Governors voted to expand the category shortlist from 10 to 15 films. The shortlist of 15 films will be announced on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 and the nominations on Monday, March 15. The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021 and organizers are still trying to figure out how to do a live show.

The List

Albania: Derë e hapur (Open Door), Florenc Papas
Algeria: هيليوبوليس Héliopolis, Djaâfar Gacem
Argentina: Los Sonámbulos (The Sleepwalkers), Paula Hernández (#SSIFF2019 Horizontes)
Armenia: Սողոմոնի երգերը Songs of Solomon, Arman Nshanyan
Austria: Was wir wollten (What We Wanted), Ulrike Kofler

Bangladesh: ইতি, তোমারই ঢাকা Iti, Tomari Dhaka (Sincerely Yours, Dhaka), eleven directors: Tanvir Ahsan, Saleh Sobhan Auneem, Mir Mukarram Hossain, Golan Kibria Farooki, Abdulah Al Noor, Robiul Alam Robi, Krishnendu Chattopadhyay, Nuhash Humayun, Mahmudul Islam, Rahat Rahman, and Syed Ahmed Shawki
Belarus: Persischstunden (Persian Lessons), Vadim Perelman (#Berlinale2020 Special Gala)
Belgium: Filles de joie (Working Girls), Frédéric Fonteyne and Anne Paulicevich (#IFFR2020)
Bhutan: Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Pawo Choyning Dorji
Bolivia: Chaco, Diego Mondaca (#IFFR2020 Bright Future Competition)
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Quo Vadis, Aida?, Jasmile Žbanić (#Venezia77 Competition)
Brazil: Babenco - Alguém Tem Que Ouvir o Coração e Dizer: Parou (Babenco: Tell Me When I Die), Bárbara Paz (documentary) (#CinemaBiennale2019 Venezia Classici Best Documentary award winner)
Bulgaria: Бащата Bashtata (The Father), Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov (2019 Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe winner)

Cambodia: ដើម្បីកូន Fathers, Huy Yaleng
Cameroon: The Fisherman's Diary, Enah Johnscott
Canada: 14 jours, 12 nuits (14 Days, 12 Nights), Jean-Philippe Duval
Chile: El Agente Topo (The Mole Agent), Maite Alberdi (documentary)
China: 夺冠 Duóguàn (Leap), Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Colombia: El Olvido que Seremos (Forgotten We'll Be), Fernando Trueba (#Cannes2020)
Costa Rica: Ceniza Negra (Land of Ashes), Sofía Quirós Ubeda (#Cannes2019 Critics' Week)
Croatia: Dopunska nastava (Extracurricular), Ivan-Goran Vitez
Cuba: Buscando a Casal (Searching for Casal), Jorge Luis Sánchez
Czech Republic: Šarlatán (Charlatan), Agnieszka Holland (#Berlinale2020 Special Gala)

Denmark: Druk (Another Round), Thomas Vinterberg (#Cannes2020)
Dominican Republic: Mis 500 Locos (A State of Madness), Leticia Tonos

Ecuador: Vacío (Emptiness), Paúl Venegas
Egypt: لما بنتولد Lama Benetweled (When We're Born), Tamer Ezzat
Estonia: Viimased (The Last Ones), Veiko Õunpuu

Finland: Tove, Zaida Bergroth
France: Deux (Two of Us), Filippo Meneghetti

Georgia: დასაწყისი Dasatskisi (Beginning), Dea Kulumbegashvili (#SSIFF2020 Golden Seashell winner plus 3 more top awards)
Germany: Und morgen die ganze welt (And Tomorrow The Entire World), Julia von Heinz (#Venezia77 Competition)
Greece: Μήλα Mila (Apples), Christos Nikou (#BiennaleCinema2020 Orizzonti)
Guatemala: La LLorona (The Weeping Woman), Jayro Bustamante (#BiennaleCinema2019 Giornate degli Autori Director's Award winner)

Honduras: Días de Luz (Days of Light), Enrique Medrano, Enrique Pérez Him, Gloria Carrión, Julio López, Mauro Borges, and Sergio Ramírez
Hong Kong: 少年的你 Shao nian de ni (Better Days), Derek Tsang
Hungary: Felkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre (Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time), Lili Horvát (#BiennaleCinema2020 Giornate degli Autori)

Iceland: Agnes Joy, Silja Hauksdóttir
India: ജെല്ലിക്കെട്ട് Jallikattu, Lijo Jose Pellissery
Indonesia: Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (Impetigore), Joko Anwar
Iran: خورشید Khorshid (Sun Children), Majid Majidi (#Venezia77 Competition)
Ireland: Arracht (Monster), Tom Sullivan
Israel: אסיה Asia, Ruthy Pribar (2020 Tribeca Nora Ephron Prize winner)
Italy: Notturno, Gianfranco Rosi (documentary) (#Venezia77 Competition. Winner of: ArcaCinemaGiovani Best Italian Film, Green Drop Award, Sorisso Diverso Award, and Cinema for UNICEF)
Ivory Coast: La Nuit des Rois (Night of the Kings), Philippe Lacôte (#BiennaleCinema2020 Orizzonti)

Japan: 朝が来る Asa ga kuru (True Mothers), Naomi Kawase (#Cannes2020, 2020 San Sebastian Golden Shell Competition)
Jordan: 200 Meters, Ameen Nayfeh (#BiennaleCinema2020 Giornate degli Autori)

Kazakhstan: Ұлы дала зары The Crying Steppe, Marina Kunarova
Kenya: Barua (The Letter), Maia Lekow and Chris King (documentary)
Kosovo: Exil (Exile), Visar Morina (2020 Heart of Sarajevo award winner,  #Berlinale2020 Panorama)
Kyrgyzstan: Жөө Күлүк Jo Kuluk, (Running to the Sky) Mirlan Abdykalykov

Latvia: Dvēseļu putenis (Blizzard of Souls), Dzintars Dreibergs
Lebanon: مفاتيح مكسورة Broken Keys, Jimmy Keyrouz (#Cannes2020)
Lesotho: This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (#BiennaleCinema2019 College Cinema, 2020 Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Visionary Filmmaking winner)
Lithuania: Nova Lituania, Karolis Kaupinis (2019 Karlovy Vary East of the West competition)
Luxembourg: Cuentos del Rio (River Tales), Julie Schroell (documentary)

Malaysia: Roh (Soul), Emir Ezwan
Mexico: Ya no estoy aquí (I'm No Longer Here), Fernando Frías
Mongolia: Die Adern der Welt (Veins of the World), Byambasure Davaa (#Berlinale2020 Generation Kplus)
Montenegro: Grudi (Breasts), Marija Perović
Morocco: القديس المجهول The Unknown Saint, Alaa Eddine Aljem (#Cannes2019 Semaine de la Critique)

Netherlands: Buladó, Eché Janga
Nigeria: The Milkmaid, Desmond Ovbiagele
North Macedonia: Врба Vrba (Willow), Milcho Manchevski
Norway: Håp (Hope), Maria Sødahl (#Berlinale2020 Panorama Label Europa Cinemas award winner)

Pakistan: Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life), Sarmad Sultan Khoosat
Palestine: غزة حبيبتي Gaza Mon Amour, Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser (#BiennaleCinema2020 Orizzonti)
Panama: Operación Causa Justa (Operation Just Cause), Luis Pacheco and Luis Franco
Paraguay: Matar a un Muerto (Killing the Dead), Hugo Giménez
Peru: Canción Sin Nombre (Song Without a Name), Melina León (#Cannes2019 Quinzaine)
Philippines: Mindanao, Brillante Mendoza
Poland: Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie (Never Gonna Snow Again), Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert (#Venezia77 Competition)
Portugal: Vitalina Varela, Pedro Costa (#Locarno2019 Golden Leopard winner)

Romania: Colectiv (Collective), Alexander Nanau (documentary) (#Venezia76 Out of Competition)
Russia: Дорогие товарищи! Dorogie Tovarishchi! (Dear Comrades!), Andrei Konchalovsky (#Venezia77 Special Jury Prize winner)

Saudi Arabia: سيدة البح Sayidat Al Bahr (Scales), Shahad Ameen (#BiennaleCinema2019 Film Critics' Week Verona Film Club Award winner)
Senegal: Baamum Nafi (Nafi's Father), Mamadou Dia (#Locarno2019 Cineasti del presente Golden Leopard and Best First Feature Award winner)
Serbia: Dara iz Jasenovca (Dara in Jasenovac), Predrag Antonijević
Singapore: 熱帶雨 Wet Season, Anthony Chen
Slovakia: Správa (The Auschwitz Report), Peter Bebjak
Slovenia: Zgodbe iz kostanjevih gozdov (Stories from the Chestnut Woods), Gregor Bozic
South Africa: Toorbos, Rene van Rooyen
South Korea: 남산의 부장들 Namsanui bujangdeul (The Man Standing Next), Woo Min-ho
Spain: La Trinchera Infinita (The Endless Trench), Jon Garaño, Aitor Arregi, and José Mari Goenaga (2019 San Sebastian Silver Shell Best Director and Jury Prize Best Screenplay winner plus FIPRESCI award winner)
Sudan: ستموت في العشرين You Will Die at Twenty, Amjad Abu Alala (#CinemaBiennale2019 Giornate degli Autori Lion of the Future - Luigui de Laurentiis award for a debut film winner)
Suriname: Wiren, Ivan Tai-Apin
Sweden: Charter, Amanda Kernell (2020 Sundance)
Switzerland: Schwesterlein (My Little Sister), Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond (#Berlinale2020 Competition)

Taiwan: 陽光普照 Yang guang pu zhao (A Sun), Chung Mong-hong
Thailand: ฮาวทูทิ้ง ทิ้งอย่างไรไม่ให้เหลือเธอ Happy Old Year, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (#IFFR2020)
Tunisia: الرجل الذي باع ظهره The Man Who Sold His Skin, Kaouther Ben Hania (#BiennaleCinema2020 Orizzonti Best Actor and Edipo Re Award winner)
Turkey: 7. Koğuştaki Mucize (Miracle in Cell No. 7), Mehmet Ada Öztekin

Ukraine: Атлантиду Atlantis, Valentin Vasyanovich (#BiennaleCinema2019 Orizzonti Best Film award winner)
Uruguay: Alelí, Leticia Jorge
Uzbekistan: Faridaning Ikki Ming qo'shig'i (2000 Songs of Farida), Yalkin Tuychiev

Venezuela: Erase Una Vez en Venezuela, Congo Mirador (Once Upon a Time in Venezuela), Anabel Rodríguez Ríos (2020 Sundance - documentary)
Vietnam: Mắt biếc (Dreamy Eyes), Victor Vũ

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Update: Saturday, January 22, 2021. Still waiting for an official list of accepted entries to International Feature Film category and there are no signs to determine if The Academy will issue the list. Perhaps they were waiting for the announcement about the new Executive Vice President, Member Relations and Awards, Fernando Garcia. But he takes office on February 8th, so maybe will not change a thing as next day, February 9th, is when the Oscars shortlist are scheduled to be released.

It's not usual to have no official list, so those of us that follow the Oscars and especially this category, still await with much-interest to see what happens with each of the films sent to be considered. There have been some news in industry magazines about films that were disqualify and one industry publication dared to share what Academy members have in AMPAS official streaming site with some new submissions appearing and others disappearing. All the speculation already has generated controversy with the Uzbekistan submission as now local official committee and producer are questioning why their material was received out of time when they have receipts. Sigh.

All these issues are confusing for me as have official Oscars committee web sites for some of those countries and there is NO news about an entry to be considered, be disqualified or any status in this edition. Even when you google for info, nothing comes from search. Hope someone clarifies list before February 9 as otherwise will have to use unofficial sources to update below list.

Truth is that list is done for me to notice films form around the world that haven't seen and identify those that wish to see next. It helps to learn the movie names especially when streaming services are crowded with lots of films indexed in the most unusual not-user-friendly way. There are some services with obsolete players, not even search works fine, so you have to be creative to find if service has or has not the film you're looking for.

In about 15 days the unknown will be clarify or left to be confusing forever. Let's be positive and again, hope AMPAS will do something about it and issue a list with accepted submissions to this #Oscars2021 edition.

Update: Saturday, December 26th, 2020. Usually like to wait until AMPAS releases official dispatch about whatever they are doing regarding all they do and specially about the International Feature Film Submissions but, this year there is a profound silence which I find absolutedly annoying as there are clear signs the International committee is working and not announcing publicly but only to industry press. So I'm doing something I do not really like, sharing info from industry articles.

First, most sources agree the International Feature voting committee will publish a list sometime in January 2021, not clear if will be a submitted or accepted films list. So, we have to wait a few weeks to learn what's going on with the long list. By-the-way most film journalists call the above 90 submissions "unexpected" as it's done in a pandemic year. For me it's not a surprise as films submitted are mainly produced last year when there was NO pandemic; probably will be 2022 Oscars when submissions could go way down the 90's record. Will share that seems Cambodia sent film but will not make it official until film is accepted by AMPAS; with this entry there are 92 countries with submissions.

Second, seems AMPAS went back to a new version of the old "color groups" that was stopped two editions ago. Now is a "required viewing groups" concept as there will be three (3) equally sized viewing groups, each of which will be presented with a list of one-third of the submissions, and committee members will be required to watch a least 50% of their assignments in order to vote.

So, there are changes AMPAS should make public with an official release but has chose to not doing it and let's hope whatever they release will come on early January and not on a late date. Sigh

Update: Monday, December 21st, 2020. Been checking almost every day for AMPAS releasing the list of accepted submissions and there was nothing but silence.

It's today that notice Telefilm Canada announced a "modification" for Canada's choice as seems AMPAS did not accepted Funny Boy by Deepa Mehta due to the amount of English dialogue in the film (see my tweet about it). Anyway there is a new submission and this time seems to comply with all AMPAS rules as it's in French.  Canada's entry has been modify accordingly.

Another film that was disqualified is Portugal's Listen by Ana Rocha de Souza also for having to much English; Portugal announced today another submission and entry has been modify accordingly.

Update: October 13, 2020
Many in the film industry claim that 2020 is (or already is "was"?) an irregular year for cinema and awards like this one should not happen. My reaction goes to say that most films that will be in this list were produced in 2019 or even before that year when life was as "always" have been. So, 2020 could be a "regular" year, next year is when the effect of the many changes to our lives and obviously to the cinema industry will affect, disrupt and will be an extremely irregular year for this category in this award.

As a consequence believe list could be as long as has been in previous years and with all this new countries, some submitting for first-time ever, could even match previous record of 92 films, or at least be close to that number.

August 10, 2020
There is no doubt that much has changed since 2020 started and most of cinema related news have not been positive.  Spring film festivals were cancelled and yes, it was sad to see Cannes cancelled and sadder to see 50 films that were allowed to use the festival seal.  Most of us are really curious to see what's going to happen with Autumn film festivals and still are checking to see if Locarno gives us a clue about the future of film festivals living in a world of social distancing; but, believe Venice will be the one that could experiment with new ways to develop and produce large film festivals with all the necessary precautions for human well-being. 

Among the few positive news none is as interesting for World cinema but the confirmation that the Academy Awards will happen only 2 months later than usual.  Obviously my greatest interest is about world cinema and the recent renamed International Feature Film (IFF) category; can't help but wonder how many countries will submit this year as most probably have other priorities.

Still, hope that those countries with well-established cinema industry will participate even under the most unusual life circumstances. Since early July started to check trying to see if there were news about IFF category and until today there were a few countries like Romania, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Switzerland, Colombia and Costa Rica requesting for submissions.  It is today, August 10, when the first country announces their submission and even if was scheduled for August 11th, Poland released the news a day earlier than published by the Polish Film Institute article.

Before starting the list lets review the schedule as dates have changed.  The Oscars show will be on Sunday, April 25, 2021; Oscars Shortlists (including IFF Shortlist of 10) will be announced on Tuesday, February 9, 2021; and, Nominations will be announced on Monday, March 15, 2021. 

Worth mentioning that so-called Specialty Categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film) have the same December 1st deadline date while general entry categories deadline is January 15, 2021.   Qualifying period moves from usual 12 months to 14 months and goes from January 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

So, for post main purpose interest, deadline for International Feature Film Submissions is December 1st, 2020.   Category film screening eligibility goes from no earlier than October 1st, 2019 to no later than December 31, 2020.

There are quite a few changes in Rule Thirteen and perhaps notorious ones are as follows, one that eases theatrical exhibition and allows films to qualify with screenings outside the country of origin BUT provided film is theatrical exhibited outside USA and its territories for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for paid admission. 

Another explains that film participation in an COVID-19 film festival's online/virtual platform will NOT affect a films' eligibility for awards consideration provided the festival has a transactional pay wall or password-protected entry.  It's amazing how cinema organizations still go out of their way to NOT include for consideration, what most people in the world did before and during the lockdown, watching film via streaming services. Sigh.  If I correctly understand Academy rules, no film released on Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple+, and a lot more streaming PAID services in the world, will qualify for consideration in the International Feature Film Oscars category.

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