The 2016 Oscar Awards has finally announced the shortlist of nine foreign language films vying for the final nominations. The films were culled from 80 films submitted by their countries of origin.
Four of the nine films were earlier chosen by the Golden Globe Awards as their final nominees for the same category.
Several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members picked six films after screening the film submission between October and December 14. Three additional films were voted by the Academy’s foreign-language film executive committee to be added into the shortlist.
The shortlist will be narrowed down to the five official nominees to be announced along with the other nominations in all award categories on January 14.
Researching information about the shortlisted films, we referred to Wikipedia and came up with the following:
Shortlist film 1. Belgium’s The Brand New Testament (Le Tout Nouveau Testament) is a fantasy-black comedy in French written produced and directed by Jaco Van Dormael and co-produced by Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The film depicts God as real and living in an apartment in Brussels which he shares with his meek wife and his 10-year-old daughter to whom he is emotionally and
physically abusive. God is shown as a grumpy sadist who created mankind specifically to torment and manipulates reality via a personal computer. His daughter escapes the apartment and wanders through the streets of Brussels, following Jesus’ footsteps and decides to write the Brand New Testament to spiritually uplift the human race.
Shortlist film 2. Colombia’s Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) is an adventure drama film directed by Ciro Guerra and co-produced by Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina. The film is in Spanish, German, English, Portuguese and Amazonian languages. The film tells two stories taking place in 1909 and 1940 about Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his tribe. He travels with two scientists to look for the rare yakrana, a sacred plant. The film is inspired by the diaries written by the two scientists during their fieldwork in the Amazon.
Shortlist film 3. Denmark’s A War (Krigen) is a film directed by Tobias Lindholm about a Danish military company n Afghanistan that is captured by the Talibans and how the commander, Claus M. Pedersen, is accused for war crimes. Pedersen who left a wife and three children back in Denmark makes a decision that eventually leads to grave consequences for him and his family back home.
Shortlist film 4. Finland’s The Fencer (Miekkailija) is directed by Klaus Haro and co-produced by Finland, Estonia and Germany. It is based on the true story of Endel Nelis, an Estonian fencer and coach who arrived in Estonia in the early 1950s, having left Leningrad to escape the secret police. He became a teacher and founded a sports club where he taught fencing. But the school’s principal started investigating Endel’s background.
Shortlist film 5. France’s Mustang is directed by female film director Deniz Gamze Erguven which was co-produced by France, Turkey and Germany. The film is set in a remote Turkish village and depicts the life of five young orphaned sisters and the challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society. It was screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2015 Cannes Filmfest where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award.
Shortlist film 6. Germany’s Labyrinth of Lies is a film based on true events directed by Giulio Ricciarelli. The film is about Johann Radmann, a young idealistic public prosecutor in charge of investigating former oficials and workers at the Auschwitz extermination camp. He was brought to crisis when he discovered that his own father was in the Nazi party.
Shortlist film 7. Hungary’s Son of Saul (Saul fia) is a drama film directed by Laszlo Nemes which won the Grand Prix in the 2015 Cannes Filmfest. The film is set in October, 1944 as Saul Auslander, a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz was tasked to burn the dead. He found the body of a boy whom he recognized as his son. He tried to salvage the body from the flames. His co-workers rose in defiance and destroyed the crematorium. Saul focused on his own plan to arrange a clandestine burial for a son he could not take care of before.
Shortlist film 8. Ireland’s Viva is a drama film set in Cuba and directed by Paddy Breathnach. The film is set in Havana and tells the story of an -18-year-old Cuban struggling to find his true identity. He works at a local Havana drag club where he dreams of becoming a performer when his long-lost father is released from a 15-year prison term.
Shortlist film 9. Jordan’s Theeb (Wolf) is an Arabic-language film written and directed by Naji Abu Nowar that was co-produced by the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the United Kingdom. The film tells the story of a-12-year-old boy whose older brother was recruited by an English army officer to be his guide on the route to Mecca. The boy followed them and when the group arrived at a well, they were ambushed by bandits. The boy and a wounded bandit survived but mutual antagonism built between them and complicated the fact that they need each other to make their way back home.
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