Jan 06
11 FILMS PREDICTED TO VIE FOR OSCAR’S BEST FOREIGN FILM AWARD by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jan 6, 2012

Eleven films have apparently caught the attention of cineastes trying to predict the winner in the best foreign language film for the 2012 Oscar awards—if surfing thru various websites can be of help. Sad to say, our entry Ang Babae sa Septic Tank of Marlon Rivera does not figure at all in the forecasts though it is among 12 films of the 63 entries submitted which received an above 8 rating from the Internet Movie Database.

This is now the homestretch. Last year, the nine shortlisted possible nominees were revealeed before January 21 and a week later, the five final nominees were announced simultaneously with the other categories.

The 84th Oscar Awrards—which will honor achievement in 2011—will be held at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on February 26, 2012.

The 11 films projected as probable nominees as cited in various websites are the following:

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; Poland’s In Darkness by Agnieska Holland;

France’s Declaration of War by Valerie Donzelli; Canada’s Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau; and Germany’s Pina by Win Wenders.

Hereunder are the capsule synopsis of each film, presented alphabetically:

Canada—Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau)
Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically. While the class goes through a long healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir’s painful former life; nor that he at risk of being deported at any moment. Adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere’s play, Bachir Lazhar, depicts the encounter between two distant worlds and the power of self-expression. Using great sensitivity and humor, Philippe Falardeau follows a humble man who is ready to transcend his own loss in order to help children recover from the death of their former teacher. (IMDb rating: 7.7)

China—The Flowers of War (Zhang Yimou)
The Flowers of War is adapted from Geling Yan’s historical novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing. Inspired by true life events, the film tells the genuine story of hope, love and sacrifice. Set in 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China’s capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Hanfran (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation, takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and 13 courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls.

Finland—Le Havre (Aki Kaurismaki)
The director’s 16th film concerns an African boy refugee who is thrown by fate to meet Marcel, a well-read bohemian who works as a shoe-shiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering solidarity of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the African boy refugee for deportation.

France—Declaration of War (Valerie Donzelli)
A young couple wrestles with their child’s cancer diagnosis.

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. (IMDb rating: 7.7)

Iran—Nadir and Simin, a Separation (Asghar Fahadi)
A couple (Nadir and Simin) has to make a decision to leave Iran to ensure a better future for their daughter (Termeh) or to stay and take care of Nadir’s father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. However, the couple’s marriage may end in divorce as Simin is determined to leave the country with her daughter. (IMDb rating: 8.6)

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. (IMDb rating: 7.7)

Lebanon—Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki)
A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. (IMDb rating: 7.7)

Mexico—Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
The story of a young woman clinging to her dream to become a beauty contest queen in a Mexico dominated by organized crime.

Poland—In Darkness (directed by Agnieszka Holland)
This film tells the story of Leopold Soha who risks his own life to save a dozen Jewish refugees from certain death. Initially only interested in his own good, the thief and burglar hides the refugees for 14 weeks in the sewers of the Nazi-occupied town of Lvov.

Turkey—Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
An intense and slow-moving drama about the search for a corpse in the grassland of Turkish Anatolia. A doctor, a public prosecutor, a police chief and a murder suspect together comb the region’s vast steppes in what becomes a critique on bureaucracy and a meditation on guilt and responsibility. (IMDb rating: 8.6)

Aside from these 11 films, let us also review the following entries which, like Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, received an above 8 rating from the IMDb.

The IMDb is an online database of information related to movies, television shows, video games and fictional characters featured in visual enter-tainment media. One of the most popular online entertainment destina-tions with over 100 million unique users monthly, it was launched in October, 1990 and was acquired by Amazon.com in 1998.

The entries rated by the IMDb (from highest down) are as follows:

Portugal—Jose and Pilar (Miguel Goncalves Mendez)8.8
Jose Saramago, Portugal’s famous novelist, and his wife Pilar, return home after a promotion tour to finish his final masterpiece. A funny and touching portrait on the endurance of a writer who finds strength from his wife to forge ahead against the enormous pressures of being a very private man with a public persona.

Chile—Violeta (Andres Wood) 8.5
A personal, biographical look at Violeta Parna, a Chilean folk singer, artist and activist who is compared to Edith Piaf or Bob Dylan.

Bosnia and Herzegovina—Belvedere (Ahmed Imamovic)8.4
The film deals with the tragedy of the women survivors of the Srebrenica genocide and the consequences of the horrors they experienced.

Hungary—The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitsky)8.3
In 1889, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while travelling in Turin, Italy. He wrapped his arms around the horse’s neck to protect it. This film is a fictionalized story of what happened to the horse. The dying of the horse is the crux of this tragic tale.

India—Adaminte Makan Abu (Salim Ahmed)8.3
Abu and Aisumma are an aging Muslim couple, now in their late70s. Their aspiration is to go for Hajj and they make many sacrifices to achieve this. But they are not able to go. On the dawn of the Hajj, Abu goes to the mosque to pray.

Brazil—Tropa de Elite 2 (Jose Padilha)8.3
After a bloody invasion of the BOPE in the High Security Penitentiary in Rio de Janeiro to control a rebellion of interns, Lt. Col. Roberto Nascimento and second-in-command Capt. Andre Matias are accused by the Human Rights Aid member Diego Fraga of execution of prisoners. Along the years, Fraga, who is married with Nascimento’s former wife, is elected State Representative while Nascimento crusade against drug dealers in the slums. But another enemy arises: the militia led by Major Rocha and supported by the Governor.

Venezuela—The Rumble of the Stones (Alejandro Bellame Palacios) 8.2
Delia is a young woman who lives with her mother and her two sons in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. She works hard but discovers that her sons William and Santiago are exposed to the violent and dangerous environment they live in. The film shows us that the hope of reconstruction is possible because the force of love, despite all, keeps the family united.

Macedonia—Punk’s Not Dead (Vladimir Blazevski)8.1
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.

Philippines—The Woman in Septic Tank (Marlon Rivera)8.1
The film chronicles a day in the life of three ambitious, passionate but misguided filmmakers.It is a comedy about misguided ambitions, the art of making film and the romanticization of poverty.

Hongkong—A Simple Life (Ann Hui) 8.0
The film follows an old lady who devotes her life to a rich family, working as their maid.

Your FEEDBACK can be posted at www.filmacademyphil.org/forum/