As the October 1 deadline for foreign language film entries for the 86th Oscar Awards looms, twelve more countries sent in their official submissions to bring the total to 32 as of today, September 18.
Last year, a record submission of 71 countries vied in this category which was eventually won by Austria’s Amour, directed by Michael Haneke.
The twelve new submissions are as follows:
Australia—The Rocket by Kim Mordaunt
The film tells the story of a young Laotian boy who leads his family, along with a couple of ragged misfits, across war-torn Laos to the dangerous Rocket Festival competition. There, he builds a giant rocket to try to prove he is not cursed. The is the 7th submission of Australia and one of the films—Samson and Delilah by Warwick Thornton—made it to the January shortlist.
Croatia—Halima’s Path by Arsen Anton Ostojic
The film is about a grieving, but strong-willed Bosnian Muslim woman, Halima, who must track down her estranged niece in order to recover the bones of her son lost during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Fifteen years before the Bosnian war ravaged their lives, Halima’s (Alma Prica) niece Safija (Olga Pakalović) became pregnant by Slavomir (Mijo Jurišić), a Serb man. Beaten and ostracized by her Bosniak family, Safija gave the infant boy to the childless Halima to raise, telling Slavomir it was stillborn. Twenty-five years later, the devastating war has ended. Bodies are being identified through DNA samples and returned to families for burial. Halima’s husband is found, but the boy cannot be returned to her without a blood sample. And that would have to come from Safija who ran away years ago and married Slavomir. When Halima finally locates her, Safija refuses the blood test because she is afraid her husband will discover her deception. And other deceptions could be uncovered as well, including the shocking identity of the soldier who took Halima’s husband and the boy to their deaths. This is Croatia 22nd submission and still has no nomination.
France—Renoir by Gilles Bourdos
The film tells the forgotten story of Andree Heuschling, also known as Catherine Hessling, who was the last model of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the first actor in the films of his son, the film director Jean Renoir. Andree was the link between two famous and widely acclaimed artists, a father and son. As the father is at the end his brilliant career, the son is still searching for himself, his great career as one of the most celebrated movie directors having not yet begun.
Latvia—Mother, I Love You by Jamis Nords
The film tells the story of Raimonds, who tries to stay out of trouble with his mother while pursuing a secret life of petty crime. It gives us a look into the inner conflict of a boy who learns to take responsibility for his actions and experience. It is Latvia’s 5th submission and still has no nominations
Morocco—God’s Horses by Nabil Ayouch
Nabil Ayouch’s film is an intimate portrait of boys growing up in a toxic environment—an immense Moroccan slum and describes the no-future lives of its inhabitants; very gradually it gets around to showing how fundamentalist recruiters entrenched themselves there after 9/11 and used it as a hunting ground for terrorists and suicide bombers. It is about the harsh childhood of Yachine and his inseparable pal Nabil, under the protective fists of Yachine’s older 13-year-old brother Hamid. Soccer games turn into life-threatening fights, weddings into drunken revels, and the string of insults and obscenities hurled at them by parents and grown-ups serves to toughen them up for the hopeless disenfranchisement of adulthood. Growing up, the violent Hamid is thrown into prison for two years; when he gets out, he’s changed into a glassy-eyed fundamentalist, whose mild manners are more preoccupying than his previous violence. This is Morocco’s ninth submission and ut made the January shortlist in 2011 with Omar Killed Me by Roschdy Zem.
Netherland—Borgman by Alex van Warmerdam
The film is about a vagrant that enters the lives of an arrogant upper-class family, turning their lives into a psychological nightmare in the process.
New Zealand—White Lies by Dana Rotberg
The film tells the story of Paraiti, a medicine woman who is the healer and midwife of her rural, tribal people. But new laws are in force prohibiting unlicensed healers. On a rare trip to the city, she is approached by the servant of a wealthy woman, Rebecca, who seeks her knowledge and assistance in order to hide a secret which could destroy Rebecca’s position in European settler society. If the secret is uncovered a life may be lost, but hiding it may also have fatal consequences. So Paraiti, Maraea and Rebecca become players in a head on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation. This is the second submission of New Zealand to the Oscars. The first was in 2011.
Pakistan—Zinda Bhaag by Meenu Gaur & Farjad Nabi
This film is about three young men trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives … and succeeding in ways they had least expected. In a Lahore neighbor-hood of Lahore, three friends—Khalid, Taambi and Chitta—are desperate to get on to the fast track to success and they believe that the only way out … is to the West. This is Pakistan’s only third submission and its first two film entries were submitted way back in 1959 and 1963.
Portugal—Lines of Wellington by Valeria Sarmiento
On September 27, 1810, the French troops commanded by Marshal Massena, were defeated in the Serra do Buçaco by the Anglo-Portuguese army of general Wellington. Despite the victory, Portuguese and British are forced to retreat from the enemy, numerically superior, in order to attract them to Torres Vedras, where Wellington had built fortified lines hardly surmountable. Simultaneously, the Anglo-Portuguese command organizes the evacuation of the entire territory between the battlefield and the lines of Torres Vedras, a gigantic burned land operation, which prevents the French from collecting supplies. This is the setting for the adventures of a multitude of characters from all social backgrounds—soldiers and civilians, men, women and children, young and old– to the daily routine torn by war.
Saudi Arabia—Wadjda by Haifaa al-Mansour
Wadjda, an 11-year-old Saudi girl living in the capital Riyadh, dreams of owning a green bicycle that she passes in a store every day on her way to school. She wants to race against her friend Abdullah, a boy from the neighborhood, but riding bikes is frowned upon for girls and Wadjda’s mother refuses to buy one for her daughter. She is distracted by trying to convince her husband not to take a second wife, as Wadjda tries to find the money herself by selling mixtapes, acting as a go-between for a teacher, and through other forbidden activities in the school yard. After running afoul of the strict headmistress, Wadjda decides to participate in a Qu’ran recital competition, the SR1,000 cash prize of which would allow her to pay for the bike. Her efforts at memorising the verses impresses her teacher, but when Wadjda wins the competition, she shocks the staff by announcing her intention to buy a bicycle with the prize money.She is told that the money will instead be donated to Palestine on her behalf. Wadjda returns home to find that her father has taken a second wife, and that her mother has bought the green bicycle from the toy store. Wadjda wins her race against Abdullah.
Taiwan—Soul by Chung Mong-Hong
The film focuses on A-chuan, a young chef who falls mysteriously ill and is sent to recuperate in his hometown in rural Taiwan, where he is placed in the care of his father, Wang. Slowly it emerges that A-chuan’s body is possessed by the soul of a psychopath—yet Wang will go to the most morally ambiguous lengths to protect him.
Ukraine—Paradjanov by Serge Avedikian & Olena Fetisova
The film tells the story of film director Sergey Paradjanov who creates brilliant films. His nonconformist behavior conflicts with the Soviet System. He is committed to prison for being eccentric. His indestructible love for beauty allows him to withstand the years of imprisonment, isolation and oblivion. This is Ukraine’s 7th submission but has no nomination up to now.
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