Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spain and Oscar's Big Foreign Film Race

I used to be the only site that covered the Oscar Foreign Film Race in anything more than a 'list of titles' way. The sandbox is no longer my terrain alone [*sniffle*] -- even the corporate sites have sections for it now. But at least, you'll give me this hat tip, my foreign Oscar section is always compiled with messy love rather than corporate mandated Oscar-mania. And it has been for years.

I even have a google map of the category --right now it's a charming toddler but when it's full grown (i.e. complete) you'll find it a very informative and handsome fellow. It should keep you well stocked in DVD rental ideas. Feedback appreciated though it's still under construction.

UPDATED 09/26*
is Oscar's third favorite submitting country (19 nominations and 4 wins) in this category. They narrowed their race down to three films. The first was Sangre de Mayo (Blood of May) from José Luis Garci who has represented Spain four times in this category winning for Volver a Empezar back in 1982. But Spain doesn't always go the way we expect. They've snubbed famous directors with potential winner films before: famously Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her was passed over in 2002.

The second was Gracia Querejeta's female driven Siete Mesas de Billar Francés (Seven Tables of French Billiards --what an odd title?!) which co-stars Blanca Portillo (an Almodóvar favorite) who won Best Actress at the San Sebastian Film Festival for this film and Maribel Verdu (pictured, from Y Tu Mama Tambien and Pan's Labyrinth) who are grieving the loss of the same man, one's father the other's lover.

The third and the selected film is Los Girasoles Ciegos (The Blind Sunflowers) a post war drama by José Luis Cuerda which also stars Maribel Verdú -- she's popular these days -- and Talk to Her's Javier Camara.

Now on to the ever growing number of countries that have announced their representative films...

44 official entries announced thus far
Page 1: Austria to Finland
Page 2: France to Japan
Page 3: The Netherlands through Vietnam
* Vietnam's entry may be heading towards disqualification

...with more movies still to be announced if the past number of total submissions is indication -- it usually reaches about 60, give or take a few. All entries must be submitted to AMPAS by October 1st but it'll take Oscar another week or three to release the "official" list.

Don't you love this part? Now if only all of them were available to each and every one us in whichever country we happen to watch movies in. Here's to global distribution for all of this year's submissions.

I bid you adieu with this trailer for Painted Skin which is playing the role of the mandatory Asian action submission

...which, following tradition, the Academy will then ignore, as is their habit post Crouching Tiger (with the wonderful colorful exception of Hero and the blah biopic size of Mongol.


Anonymous said...

This category would be incredible if it wasn't for the feeling that Academy voters just seem to throw darts on their ballots and vote for whatever they land on. But oh well.

Anonymous said...

that Google map is awesome.

dzong2 said...

H1 Nathaniel,

Actually, there are 42 countries that have announced so far (and 4 more have confirmed their participation). I'm keeping the list current on Wikipedia....Don't blame me for the weird formatting. I didn't do it.

AD (Tokyo)

Crisbrother said...

hihi... love to help with this section..hihi..

Anonymous said...

Regarding Spain's list of three, I really doubt "Sangre de Mayo" will make it to the final selection. It has become a sort of joke that José Luis Garci's corresponding film is always pre-selected. It's not only that he isn't (now) a very popular (being generous) director at the box office, but the fact that he only does one screening -for voters I guess, no for real audience or critics- just to follow the rules to be eligible. No one else has seen the movie, it hasn't opened yet. Personally I don't like his movies at all, they are so "artificial" he even dubs the actors if he doesn't like their voices (!!).

If I had to make a prediction I'd go for "Siete mesas de billar francés" because it's the one that got better reviews and though I haven't seen it, it seems it is an acting duel between Maribel Verdú and Blanca Portillo, which is always interesting.

But that said, Spanish Academy is somehow unpredictable in their decisions (I don't think last year's The Orphanage was a wise choice in terms of Oscar potential, but it resulted in being a wise decision for box office). Sangre de Mayo is a period piece and all that, and voters may feel it has Oscar potential.

The relationship between Almodóvar and the Spanish Academy has been... somehow stormy for a long time. Since Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down they've been apart for a long time (Almodóvar at some point rejected membership and I'm not sure if he has become a member again) so it's not so strange his movies weren't selected even when they were the best possible choices. I feel now they have come to terms, the Academy acknowledging his international appeal and Almodóvar not being too critical with them in public ;).

That said, tomorrow Spain will say the final choice is "Los girasoles ciegos" and I'll have lost all my credibility (as if I had any).


Anonymous said...

Is Painted Skin official? I thought they were also considering Warlords. But they probably reached a decision since I last check (a few days ago.)


kin --from what i've heard YES. However disinformation is par for the course in this category. Every year I've been doing it there's been AT LEAST one country whose selection does not match the selection they announced by the time the Oscar notifies the press in mid October.

Anonymous said...

I think you’d like to know that “Lion’s Dent” (Leonera, directed by Pablo Trapero, presented in the official competition at Cannes) was selected today to represent Argentina in the foreign language race.
Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Mexico announced today. We'll submit "Arráncame la vida" FYC.

We'll send Lake Tahoe to the Goyas (best Hispanic film).


Anonymous said...

BTW, "Arráncame la vida" means something like Take my life away.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. A film must make a profit to be eligible (in the country of submission)? Am I reading that link (regarding the possibility of the Vietnamese entry being ineligible) correctly? Because that's really wierd.


43 films are up now. lots of updates


arkaan yes, that's incorrect. What the writer is trying to get across is that a film has to be shown to paid admissions.

in other words it can't be shown for free or as part of a festival or as a bonus at an event or anything of those things.

it has to show traditionally for a week in its home country (just like oscar qualifiers have to do for one week at regular theater in LA)

Anonymous said...

Finally Spain's choice is "Los girasoles ciegos" (The Blind Sunflowers).

Err, it wasn't really me the Iggy on the other comment above... lol.


Brian Darr said...

Love the map and can't wait to see its power when fully-grown.

Two bits of info. to help make the Japan entry more complete: the director of Gate of Hell is Teinosuke Kinugasa, and the director of the Legend of Musashi is Akira Kurosawa. In fact, the latter is better known as the Seven Samurai. I have no idea what the story is behind the name change.

I watched Gate of Hell for the first time earlier this year, and couldn't really see anything particularly special about it (admittedly the version I saw was terribly faded.) I'm sure it must have been picked simply because, as the first color feature film exported from Japan, it satisfied pent-up moviegoer demand for brightly-colored kimonos.

Unknown said...

heard on the radio today: Los Girasoles Ciegos is the one!

now I just have to find the time to head out and see it! I've heard nothing but good things about it

Brian Darr said...

Wait. I'm wrong- got confused by an old note somewhere. the Seven Samurai did get some competitive Oscar nominations in 1956 (that would be an interesting adjunct to your current map- foreign films that got nominated in categories beyond the FLF category- though I bet you've thought of that already) under the title Magnificent Seven. But the film that won the non-competitive Oscar in 1955 is NOT Kurosawa's the Seven Samurai, but Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (the first film in what is often called "the Samurai Trilogy"). Sorry for sending bad info.

Rolando Medina-López said...

Hey Nat,

I don't know about other turfs but yours on Foreign Film race is simply the best.

For me, this is my favorite category, regardless the politics of oldness in the selecting committee.

I think the best films comes from all around.

Anonymous said...

First of all thank you for the great work you have done!It is my favorite category!
I want to ask you a question (please answer!) about your prediciton,did you watch the films from your prediction or did you choose them by synopsis,awards, reviews,etc'?
I have seen 7 films untill now:
An intresting films about love,faith and religion.I can't see it wining,but it has a big chance to be nominated or to make into January short-list at least.

It isn't regular Indian film,which we are used to see,but a touching story about a boy with Dyslexia and the way his family gets trough it with help of his art teacher.A must have seen for every parent,but doesn't seem to have any chanses (my predicition: maximum January list,but it is still really worth watching).

I first watched this film with preduced (I read that it was politically extremely left film,which is not true),but the damage was done and I was sceptical,so I am waiting for DVD to watch it again,but my predicition:the same story as last years Persepolis (it didn't get even in January short-list,but was nominated as best foreign film).

As I understand the academy likes such a films,exellent piece of work,has a chance to be nominated,but I want tell it for sure,have to wait to the whole list of nomination and to see if there are another films with alike theme.

It is hard to say a bad word about it,but I din't like,if I try to find the right word,it is too theatrical.

It is my favorite till now.Some people say it is Russian Amelie,I can't agree,because Amelie is better,but it is still a great film.As I see it have to be nominated.

Everybody has done a good job,but I can't get the idea of this film (please don't tell that it is love,because is to general to be the main idea),so as I see it,has no chance at all,still a good film.

In next week or two I am going to see 3 films (France,Italy and Norway) at least...

Anonymous said...

The final list: