Catching up on foreign-language Oscar hopefuls

Posted by · 8:52 am · September 9th, 2009

Prince of Tears

UPDATE: As I was typing this very post, reigning Oscar champ Japan announced their submission: Ryoichi Kimizuka’s thriller “Nobody to Watch Over Me.” Screen International has details.

PREVIOUSLY: As you know, I like to keep up with the international submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar as and when they emerge, and this morning’s Screen International report on the entries from Hong Kong and Taiwan reminded me that I’ve missed a few.

To deal with those first, Hong Kong has selected Yonfan’s “Prince of Tears,” a lavish period melodrama set around the island’s communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. It premiered last week at Venice to polite, if not exactly passionate, reviews — sadly, it’s one title I missed — but seems to have quite strong international prospects. Said to be both romantic and visually breathtaking, it also has a gay subtext that may or may not be to the branch’s taste.

Continuing the pattern of festival films that escaped me, Taiwan has gone with the rather bafflingly titled “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” as their candidate. A black-and-white drama about a homeless widower fighting to retain custody of his daughter (a pretty baity-sounding pitch for that foreign-language committee, if you ask me), it played at the Edinburgh Film Festival, though I never heard anyone enthusing about it.

Other countries whose submissions we haven’t yet mentioned include Hungary (“Chameleon”) and Morocco (“Casanegra”). Austria, reportedly still upset over Germany having snatched “The White Ribbon” from under their noses, has ignored my advice to pick Venice favorite “Lourdes,” and instead selected asylum-seeker drama “For a Moment, Freedom” as their pony. For all I know, they’re right to do so.

Finally, Romania has put forward the entry that, together with “The White Ribbon,” has the highest profile so far: “Police, Adjective” won an Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in May, and was named by more than one critic as the film of the festival. Here’s hoping it fares better than a certain other Romanian Cannes hit.

As always, if any of our international readers have helpful info or opinions to offer, please do so.

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 9-09-2009 at 9:10 am

    han said...

    korea selects MOTHER

  • 2 9-09-2009 at 9:14 am

    Andrew said...

    I saw a peruvian film called The Milk of Sorrow, the same one that won the Berlin Golden Bear prize and I thought it was amazing. Don’t think it will be nominated for an Oscar though, they rarely watch South American movies.

  • 3 9-09-2009 at 9:48 am

    j said...

    Romania did bring critically beloved 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.

    I wonder if A Prophet will figure in.

    The foreign race is weird though. I believe Departures got the worst reviews of the 5 nominees, winning against 2 films with average reviews in the A-range.

  • 4 9-09-2009 at 9:58 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Han: I think we mentioned that a while back, but thanks for the reminder.

    Andrew: Are you saying “The Milk of Sorrow” has been selected, or are you just making a recommendation?

    J: I was referring to “4 Months” in the last line. And yeah, the French submission is always the most intriguing one, since they have such an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

  • 5 9-09-2009 at 10:18 am

    Jake said...

    Why is “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” bafflingly titled? Because it’s Spanish and the movie is
    from Taiwan? Just wondering.

  • 6 9-09-2009 at 10:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Well, yes … and reportedly, the movie has no Spanish elements or references whatsoever.

  • 7 9-09-2009 at 1:00 pm

    Joy Fountain said...

    “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” is not a tearjerker at all. It’s very controlled and level-headed, and has probably the best ending of all “custody drama”.

    The director hate the notion that if a film wants to be international it must has a english title, so he picked a spanish one.

  • 8 9-09-2009 at 2:40 pm

    emad said...

    iran’s to-be-submission has a real chance too. About Elly(Darbareye Elly) has already some festival trophies, most natebly the silver bear of berlin for Directing. it could be iran’s second top five contender( after majidi’s childrean of heaven)

  • 9 9-09-2009 at 3:08 pm

    Andrew said...

    Hi Guy:

    I am making a recommendation. The Milk of Sorrow is a great film but as far as I know, it does not have a US distributor. It’s a shame because I thought it was brilliant and different. Hopefully it will get a US release soon…

  • 10 9-09-2009 at 3:58 pm

    Ali E. said...

    I expect About Elly to be a serious contender, if officially selected by Iran… I didn’t really like The Milk of Sorrow, a film out of focus for me and definitely not the Academy’s cup of tea…

    I actually worked on earlier stages of Austria’s selection. I helped the producer and the director to search locations in Turkey, but had to leave the project due to the incompetence of Turkish line-producer back then. I hope it turned out to be a good movie, but I don’t see it nominated for an Oscar really…

  • 11 9-09-2009 at 4:56 pm

    Douglas said...

    Samson and Delilah from Australia!

  • 12 9-09-2009 at 8:22 pm

    Glenn said...

    Douglas, has it actually been selected? I haven’t read anything about it being so, and I’m still skeptical that its even eligible (with so much english dialogue). Australia also has “My Tehran for Sale”, which isn’t in English. There’s another foreign language title, but I can’t remember it.

  • 13 9-10-2009 at 2:19 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Joy: Thanks for the clarification. Second-hand word can be misleading sometimes.

  • 14 9-15-2009 at 6:10 am

    holden_caulfield said...

    Hey! Broken embraces has not been chosen by the Spanish Academy. The preselected movies were Gordos (Fat people), Map of the sounds of tokyo and El baile de la victoria (The dance of victory).

  • 15 9-15-2009 at 6:28 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Thanks for the info. I can’t say I’m surprised … the Spanish selectors have a hit-and-miss record with Almodovar, and tend to prefer his warmer works.