The 88th Oscar Awards final nominees for the best foreign language film category was announced January 14. The nominees, chosen from a shortlist of nine films, are as follows:
–Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) from Colombia, 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.
–A War (Krigen) from Denmark, 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.
–Mustang from France, a film 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.
–Son of Saul (Saul fia) from Hungary, 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.
–Theeb (Wolf) from Jordan, 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.
Announcement of the Oscar nominations came days after the Golden Globe Awards of the Hollywood Foreign Press selected Son of Saul as its best foreign language film.
A review of awards already given by various film critics’ associations shows that Son of Saul won 15 out of a total of 27 awards which were already given out since December last year.
Those who voted for Son of Saul were film critics’ association or societies from Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Southeastern, Washington, Austin, Georgia, Denver, Indiana, North Texas New York, Oklahoma as well as the National Board of Review.
Four other foreign films have two or three awards each. These are:
–The Assassins from Taiwan, martial arts film directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien;
–Phoenix from Germany, directed by Christian Petzold;
–Goodnight Mommy from Austria, directed by Veronika Franz;
–Timbuktu from Mauritania. Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.
The Assassins was chosen by film critics groups from Florida and Vancouver, as well as the Online Film Critics Society.
Phoenix was adjudged the best by film critics groups from Central Ohio, North Carolina and Kansas City.
Goodnight Mommy was chosen by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society and the St. Louis Film Critics Association.
Timbuktu was adjudged winner by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Utah Film Critics Association.
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