Monday, October 11, 2010

The Foreign Film List Grows: Miki's Endurance, Maria's Acclaim

63 countries have now announced their Oscar submissions. Last year we had 65 films and the most ever, if my data is correct, was 2008 in which 67 countries competed for the coveted 5 slots. (If 10 is the number for Best Picture, shouldn't the corresponding prize for subtitled features, also be 10? ) In other words, numbers-wise, we're just about finished. The deadline has already passed but some countries are quiet about their submissions. The "official" official list will arrive any minute now... or next week depending on the speed with which AMPAS does their paperwork. Soon is the point.

A naked blue moment from Puerto Rico's Miente a.k.a. Lie. Spanish is the
language to know in this category. 11 of the 63 entries are in Spanish!

I've updated all the pages so you can see the info. The major contending countries, those frequently in the hunt, have all announced their representative films.
I wanted to highlight two important actors in this year's field.
    First, we have to note the presence of the 60 year old actor Miki Manojlovic (pictured left). He is the star of two of the submissions this year: Bosnia's Cirkus Columbia and Serbia's Solemn Promise (also known as Besa). If headlining two of the 60+ submissions isn't enough of a mark of border-crossing popularity, consider that he also appeared in last year's finalist from Bulgaria The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner, Serbia's submission from 2007 The Trap and 25 years ago he was part of the Oscar nominated Yugoslavian hit When Father Was Away on Business back when subtitled films used to have long theatrical runs. (Sigh. Good times.) If he looks familiar to you you may have seen him in an Emir Kusturica picture (he's made a few) or in François Ozon's Criminal Lovers.

    I also wanted to note the presence of Norway's Maria Bonnevie. She was born in Sweden to Norwegian actors and grew up in Norway. But today she a star of international cinema. She's another face that should be growing familiar to festival audiences and the voting body of this particular Oscar branch. She's headlined a past Oscar submission, Denmark's Reconstruction (2003), and won various best actress citations for I am Dina (2002). She starred in the Russian film The Banishment (2007) for the acclaimed director Andrei Zvyagintsev. She's representing Norway this year with Engelen in which she plays a drug addict mother.  I am ashamedly (mostly) unfamiliar with her which I can't quite figure out as I love Scandinavian cinema and I have heard of many of her titles. She hasn't really crossed over or 'gone Hollywood' as some international beauties do (and directors, too, actually) once they make a name for themselves at home. But she did appear in that odd Antonio Banderas Viking picture The 13th Warrior (1999) which I have very foggy memories of and you may have also seen her, as I did, in the terrific Norwegian thriller Insomnia (1997).  Yep, the one that Christopher Nolan remade quickly (The Let The Right One In to Let Me In trajectory has happened over and over again in the history of cinema)

    Left to right: The Polar Bear King was one of her earliest pictures; Insomnia
    wowed critics and then got remade; romancing Film Experience favorite
    Nikolaj Lie Kass in Oscar submission Reconstruction; and The 13th Warrior.

    Left to right: Best Actress wins for I Am Dina; the Russian film Banishment;
    addiction drama Engelen, Norway's current Oscar submission.

    Just looking at stills from her filmography makes me assume she's like the Nordic Cate Blanchett. She's a few years younger but she looks similarly dramatically versatile is what I'm saying.

    Three Questions For You:
    1. Are you a fan of Bonnevie or Miki? 
    2. Which of the 60+ submissions are you anxious to see in the unfortunately distant future?
    3. Are you proud of yourself for being fluent in Spanish right about now? I'm jealous!


    Bill_the_Bear said...

    I recognized Miki Manojlovic from "Irina Palm," in which he played the sex club owner who hired Marianne Faithful to give hand jobs. He was good in that!

    Mirko said...

    Manojlovich was charming and very good in IRINA PALM. I Remember him for his perf of the traitor friend in Kusturica's masterpiece UNDERGROUND

    Marie Bonnevie is her since I AM DINA and I dare to say that in THE BANISHMENT she's better than her partner, Konstantin Lavronenko, even if he received the best actor prize in Cannes for his role

    NATHANIEL R said...

    I hadn't even heard of the Banishment until I wrote this (or had forgotten it existed) which is sad because the director did get some career traction going with THE RETURN (which I did see). I don't rememebr THE BANISHMENT getting a release here though. sad.

    anna said...

    "The Polar Bear King"! That's where I know her from! I couldn't figure out where I'd seen Maria Bonnevie before. I loved that film as a kid. :)

    vg21 said...

    1.) I saw Bonnevie in I'm Dina, it was very memorable as I was alone in the audience. I loved her work but quite shamefully, I haven't seen her in anything else. Still, I have remembered her since that film in 2002 when I wasn't a regular cinema-goer yet, so I think it's quite impressive - of her :).
    2.) Eeer...
    3.) I don't speak Spanish. Not a word. I'm joining you in being jealous of those who do.

    Andrew R. said...

    I don't think Chad will submit Screaming Man or anything at all.

    That movie "Life of Fish" has a very attractive poster.

    Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

    "I Am Dina" was just plain weird although she was good in it.
    "Reconstruction" is just magnificent!
    Nat if you need Spanish lessons, let me know. I'm quite the patient teacher.

    Spartak said...

    1.I am not their fan,but Maria Bonnevie gave really powerful performance in "Engelen".I have seen all the tree films with Manojlovic that you have mentioned (except the new ones)...All of them are great...
    2.I think...Danish "IN A BETTER WORLD",cause I really like Susanne Bier's films...
    3.I wish I do...I have to start leaning,but I'm so lazy and also don't have enough time now.

    Jin said...

    I saw Honey (Turkey), Illegal (Belgium), Son of Babylon (Iraq) and If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Romania) in Pusan Film Festival. All of them were enjoyable to watch, but none looked exceptionally great to me. Anyway I'd love to see Incendies - looks so fierce and intense.