Aug 29
SEVEN EARLY BIRDS IN 86TH OSCAR AWARDS’ BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Thu, Aug 29, 2013

With more than a full month before the deadline of submission, seven countries have already officially submitted their films entries to the best foreign-language film category of the 86th Oscar Awards which will be held on March 2, 2014.

In effect, at least 65 more countries from Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa must also send in their nominated films on or before October 1 to break the record 71 entries that vied in the best foreign language film category last year.

The Philippines’ film entry is still being deliberated on by an eight-man committee of the Film Academy of the Philippines. Eight films have been shortlisted though the committee will still be open to evaluate films which will be shown in September. The Oscar’s qualifying rules require that the film entry must have been commercially exhibited within the October, 2013 to September, 2014 period.

Up to this writing, the seven early bird entries are: Nepal’s Soongava: Dance of the Orchids by Subarna Thapa; Greece’s Boy Eating the Bird’s Food by Ektoras Lygizos; Hungary’s The Notebook by Janos Szasz; Romania’s Child Pose by Calin Peter Netzer; Germany’s Two Lives by Georg Maas; Montenegro’s Bad Destiny by Drasko Durovic; and Venezuela’s Breach in the Silence by Luis and Andres Rodriguez..

Researched from the websites, here are capsulized write-ups about the seven films:

1. Nepal’s Soongava: Dance of the Orchids is about a young girl, Diya, who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, encouraged by Kiran, her best friend, a young girl her age. Diya’s parents found a good match for her and arranged her engagement. Diya agrees to please her family but when her feelings for Kiran deepen and develop into a full-blown love affair, she has to make a choice. Flying in the face of tradition and local morals in a society deeply rooted in family values, Diya breaks off with her fiancé, risking everything to live with Kiran.

In the four years that Nepal submitted entries to the Oscar’s best foreign language film category, the country received a nomination in 1999 for Caravan by Eric Valli.

2. Greece’s Boy Eating the Bird’s Food is based on the 1890 novel, “Hunger” by Nobel Prize-winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun, which was shown in the Toronto Film Festival last year. The story follows an unemployed 22-year-old young man in Athens with no money, no girlfriend and no food to eat. He has only a canary bird and a beautiful singing voice. When he finds himself without a home, he must seek shelter for his bird.

Greece has five nominations in this category. They were: Electra by Michael Cacoyanis in 1962; The Red Lanterns by Vasilis Georgiadis in 1963; Blood on the Land by Georgiadis in 1965; Iphigenia by Cacoyanis in 1977; and Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos in 2010.

3. Hungary’s The Notebook (A Nagy Füzet), is set in a village on the Hungarian border, where two young brothers grow up during wartime with their cruel grandmother and must learn every trick of evil to survive in the absurd world of adults.

Hungary won the best foreign language film award in 1981 for Mephisto, directed by Istvan Szabo. The country also chalked up seven nominations in this category in the following years: 1968 (The Boys of Paul Street by Zoltan Fabri); 1974 (Cat’s Play by Karoly Makk); 1978 (Hungarians by Zoltan Fabri); 1980 (Confidence by Istvan Szabo); 1983 (Job’s Revolt by Imre Gyongyossy and Barna Kabay; 1985 (Colonel Redl by Istvan Szabo); and 1988 (Hanussen by Istvan Szabo).

4. Romania’s Child’s Pose, which premiered in competition at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and won the Golden Bear, centers on a well-to-do, well-connected Bucharest society lady named Cornelia who takes the driver’s seat when her 34-year-old son gets involved in a deadly accident. Through her stifling love, she shields her wounded son from the hard realities of life.

Last year, Romania’s entry. Beyond the Hills by Christian Mungiu made it to the shortlist of nine semi-finalists but didn’t make it to the final list of five nominees.

5. Montenegro’s Bad Destiny follows the story of Belog, former member of a paramilitary group in Bosnia & Herzogivina during the war in the 1990’s, after he leaves jail and tries to escape to Italy. He is sought after by a group of his war comrades due to a video-clip of an execution of a group of people during the war.

This is the first film submitted by Montenegro to the Oscar Awards.

6. Germany’s Two Lives is the true story of Katherine Evensen (Kohler), a German woman raised in East Germany who lives in Norway, the child of a Norwegian woman and a German WWII soldier. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kathrine’s secret past, including her involvement with the East German Stasi, comes to light, threatening the life of lies she has built up with her family.

Germany (without the distinction of West or East) has been submitting entries since 1990. Under its belt is one best foreign language film trophy for Nowhere in Africa by Caroline Link in 2002. It also boasts of eight nominations, five of which came for the period 2004 to 2009.

7. Venezuela’s Breach in the Silence focuses on a 19-year-old dead-mute, Ana, who has spent most of her life working with her mother in a textile factory to help support their family. Ashamed of Ana’s disability, her mother monitors her every move, refusing to even allow her to learn sign language. At home, Ana is forced to care for her younger brother and sister while her mother dotes on her new husband instead. Trapped in a world that either can’t or won’t hear her, Ana suffers her parents’ abuses and indignities stoically, taking solace in the affectionate relationship she has with her siblings. But when the abuse begins to her brother and sister, she decides to save them, hoping to steal them away in a desperate bid for freedom.

Like Romania and Montenegro, Venezuela has not yet earned a single nomination in the Oscars” best foreign language film category.

In the 85th Oscar Awards, a record number of 71 films were submitted.
The final five nominees announced on Janaury 10, 2013 were:

Amour (Austria) directed by Michael Haneke; War Witch (Canada) directed by Kim Nguyen; No (Chile) directed by Pablo Larrain; A Royal Affair (Denmark) directed by Nikolaj Arcel; and Kon Tiki (Norway) directed by Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg.

Amour was the eventual winner.

Last year, the Philippines submitted Bwakaw, directed by Jun Lana, as its official entry to the category. The film reportedly almost made it to the January shortlist of 9.

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