A total of 63 countries submitted entries to the foreign language film category of the 84th Oscar Awards, according to the official news release of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
The last five countries that officially submitted their entries were: Dominican Republic (La Hija Natural by Leticia Tomas); Indonesia (Under the Protection of Ka’Bah by Hanny Saputra); Kazakhstan (Returning to the A by Yegor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky); Spain ( Black Bread by Agusti Villaronga); and United Kingdom (Patagonia by Marc Evans).
In the first four parts of this special series, we came out with the storylines of 43 official film entries.
Surfing thru the internet to read materials on this special category of the Oscar awards, early interest seems to be focused on eight entries. Sad to say, the country’s entry—Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, directed by Marlon Rivera and starring Eugene Domingo—was not mentioned.
The eight films which apparently caught the attention of cineastes trying to predict the Oscar winner in the foreign language film include:
Lebanon’s Where Do We Go Now? By Nadine Labaki (the Toronto International Filmfest winner); Turkey’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bigle Ceylan (Cannes Gran Prix co-winner); China’s The Flowers of War by ZhangYimou; Finland’s Le Havre by Aki Kaurismaki;
Israel’s Footnote by Joseph Cedar; Iran’s Nader and Simin by Asghar Farhadi; Mexico’s Miss Bala by Gerardo Narcujo; and Poland’s In Darkness by Agnieska Holland.
Continuing efforts to come out with at least the storylines of the official entries, here are the last 20 films for your perusal:
Argentina—Aballay (Fernando Spiner)
The bloody and violent tale of a young man’s quest to avenge his father’s death at the hands of a now aging gaucho who wants to end his life of crime.
Chile—Violeta (Andres Wood)
Personal, biographical look at Violeta Parna, a Chilean folk singer, artist and activist who the director compares to Edith Piaf or Bob Dylan. Violeta wrote the oft-recorded Gracias a la Vida before committing suicide at the age of 49.
Croatia—72 Days (Danilo Serbedzija)
Film portrays the dilemma wrought by the delivery of a pension from a relative in the US set against the gritty reality of a rural existence in the scarred Lika region of Bosnia. The tensions between family loyalty and the chance to break out of an economic grind are a reality all too familiar to many Croatians.
Cuba—Havana Station (Alan Padron)
A buddy movie about two boys from contrasting social backgrounds.
Denmark—Superclasico (Ole Christian Madsen)
A comedy of marital discord, the film follows 40-year-old Christian, whose wine business is close to bankruptcy, and whose wife Anna has left him for a soccer star, now a successful football agent in Buenos Aires.
Dominican Republic—La Hija Natural (Leticia Tomas)
Maria, 18-year-old daughter of a single mother, decides to look for the father she has never met after her mother dies in a tragic accident. She finally finds him in a nearby town, living in what appears to be a haunted old country house in the middle of a neglected banana plantation. Amidst the peculiarities and superstitions of the Dominican countryside, father and daughter will have to face the ghosts of the past that haunt them both.
Egypt—Lust (Khaled El Hagar)
Film centers on a poor family in a down-and-out neighborhood of Alexandria, focusing on the frustrations of everyday Egyptians trying to make ends meet in pre-revolutionary Egypt. The family matriarch Um Shouq passes her time reading futures in coffee shops and communicating with the spirit world. When her only son is stricken by kidney disease, she begs on the street to pay for his dialysis. Fearsome and proud, she hides the source of the money from her family, eventually creating a rift too deep to be healed.
Indonesia—Under the Protection of Ka’Bah (Hanny Saputra)
Growing up in West Sumatra in the 1920s, Hamid and Zainab came from families from very different social classes. Hamid is poor while Zainab is wealthy. Hamid receives a scholarship from Zainab’s father and Hamid’s mother works for Zainab’s family. Hamid and Zainab fall in love and dream of finding a way to accept their union, and also to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Georgia—Chantrapas (Otar Iosseliani)
Chantrapas means those who cannot sing in 19th century Russia and good for nothing in modern usage. The film offers an affectionate look at both filmmaking and everyday life in Soviet Georgia. Solemn themes of exile, freedom of expression and the artist’s struggle to be understood are channelled through the experiences of fictional Georgian director Nicolas who can never be happy at home anywhere and whose films flop everywhere.
Germany—Pina (Wim Wenders)
This 3D docu is a tribute to the late modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch. It is a cinematic synthesis of the arts, harmoniously combining dance, music and film.
Greece—Attenberg (Athena Rachel Tsangari)
A wacky, decidedly art house coming-of-age narrative, but a more intellectual exploration of various Freudian concepts. The film transpires in a stagnant industrial town on the seaside. Marina confesses to her weary father that she finds women more interesting than men, though not physically. Marina always accompanies her terminally ill dad to the hospital for checkups and otherwise spends much of her time hanging out with Bella with whom she performs bizarre impromptu dances.
Hongkong—A Simple Life (Ann Hui)
The film follows an old lady who devotes her life to a rich family, working as their maid.
Italy—Terrafirma (Emanuele Crialese)
The film tells the story of an Italian fisherman who hides a woman and her son who have arrived illegally on a small island. His act of generosity, following the law of the sea, is in direct conflict with laws governing migration—and the move turns the fisherman’s life upside-down.
Israel—Footnote (Joseph Cedar)
The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation.
Japan—Postcard (Kaneto Shindo)
This anti-war film directed by 99-year-old Shindo is based partly on the director’s own experiences during World War II. A soldier sent to the frontline gives his friend a letter for his wife, answering her postcard, not expecting to return alive. When he does make it back home, he finds his family has been devastated by the war in various ways.
Kazakhstan—Returning to the A (Yegor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky)
No storyline available.
Lithuania—Back to Your Arms (Kristijonas Vildziunas)
It deals with a father and daughter who are separated in World War II and who try to reunite in Berlin 17 years later just as the wall is going up.
Macedonia—Punk’s Not Dead (Vladimir Blazevski)
The film focuses on the hero, Mirsa, a former singer from the band that once ruled the Macedonian punk scene. Now 40 and still living with his mother, he gets by selling drugs for a fearsome Albanian. The dealer then hatches a Blues Brothers-style mission to reunite the band for a benefit concert in a town with a repressed Albanian majority.
Spain—Black Bread (Agusti Villaronga)
In the harsh postwar years’ Catalan countryside, Andreu, a child that belongs to the losing side, finds the corpse of a man and his son in the forest. The authorities want his father to be made responsible for the deaths but Andreu tries to help his father by finding out the real killers.
In his search, Andreu develops a moral consciousness against a world of adults fed by lies. In order to survive, he betrays his own roots and ends up finding out the monster that lives within him.
United Kingdom—Patagonia (Marc Evans)
A Wlesh couple travels to Argentina to work on their relationship.
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