Saudi Arabia and Moldova have their first entry; Pakistan is repped for the first time in 50 years; Montenegro is submitting for the first time as an independent country; and there are a record 76 films in the Academy's official roster of foreign-language entries.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences released its list Monday, after a review by the exec foreign-language committee. The roster had been expected to be unveiled Friday, as the panel convened that morning to review the submissions. The delay was a clue that some of the films required more investigation into their eligibility.
Academy Awards raised questions.
France submitted "Renoir," causing many to wonder why "Blue Is the Warmest Color" was not chosen. In fact, "Blue" opened in France after the eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013), so it might be Gaul's choice next year.
India chose "The Good Road" instead of "The Lunchbox," and Japan chose "The Great Passage" instead of "Like Father, Like Son." Both choices were met with outrage, because the bypassed films had been seen and admired while the submitted films were generally unseen. The outrage was fueled by some online sites that like to handicap the eventual five nominees even before the countries have submitted.
On this year's list, many of the submissions have not been widely seen outside their country. But there are also ones that have been acclaimed on the fest circuit, and a few that have received commercial release in the U.S. That roster includes Chile's "Gloria," Denmark's "The Hunt," Hong Kong's "The Grandmaster," Iran's "The Past," Italy's "The Great Beauty," Netherlands' "Borgman," Palestine's "Omar," Poland's "Walesa" and Saudi Arabia's "Wadjda."
This year's roster includes some interesting twists, including submissions from English-lingo countries Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. This reflects the change in rules after Austria's 2005 choice, Michael Haneke's French-language "Cache," was disqualified. After protests, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences the next year revoked the stipulation that a film needs to be in the country's dominant language.
Hard-and-fast requirements include the film's opening date and one-week continuous engagement in the country of origin. Another strict rule is that the language be predominantly non-English.
Other rules are more fluid, including the level of artistic contributions from the country. In an era of joint ventures, few films have clear-cut geographic boundaries, but the principal contributors should be from the country.
Foreign-language committee chairman Mark Johnson told Variety, "We take great pride in being flexible; we want to include movies, not reject them. But if they're ineligible, they're ineligible."
One example was Israel's 2007 "The Band's Visit." Though the film had many key Israeli contributors, the language was 65% English. (The story concerned Egyptians and Israelis, whose only common language was English.) So Israel was notified and then submitted "Beaufort," which went on to earn an Oscar nom.
Nominations will be announced Jan. 16, and awards presented March 2.
Following is the official list of entries.
Afghanistan, "Wajma - An Afghan Love Story," Barmak Akram, director;
Albania, "Agon," Robert Budina, director;
Argentina, "The German Doctor," LucÃa Puenzo, director;
Australia, "The Rocket," Kim Mordaunt, director;
Austria, "The Wall," Julian PÃ¶lsler, director;
Azerbaijan, "Steppe Man," Shamil Aliyev, director;
Oscar's Final Foreign-Language List Includes a Few Surprises
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