‘Pina’ among latest entries in foreign Oscar race

Posted by · 1:54 pm · September 8th, 2011

I predicted on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that Wim Wenders’ 3D dance film “Pina” would be selected as Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and that it could well be a surprise shortlist entry if the executive committee gives it a leg up. The first half of that forecast panned out today, and I’m sticking by the second — though Kris, I should add, thinks I’m off my rocker.

It’s a riskily unconventional choice for Germany, which tends to play this game pretty safe — and has six nominations in the last nine years to show for it. “Waltz With Bashir” may have recently opened the door for documentary (or at least hybrid) filmmaking to get recognition in this category, but that was still a more narrative film than “Pina,” the bulk of which amounts to filmed performance art. It’s also the first 3D submission that I can recall.

There’s no precedent for such a nomination, yet that novelty is exactly why I think the branch’s executive committee — which has made a concerted effort to bring a more adventurous streak to a frequently fusty category — might stand up for it.

Wenders’ veteran status is an extra point in its favor: his films have twice before been entered in the foreign-language race (most recently, “Wings of Desire” in 1987); his only Oscar nomination to date, as with his compatriot Werner Herzog, has come in the Best Documentary Feature category. (Could “Pina” bring him a second nod in that race? I somehow doubt it.)

I could be completely off here, but either way, it’s an exciting wild card to have in the mix. Kris, you might remember, was none too taken with “Pina” at Telluride last week; I was considerably more impressed at the Berlinale in February.

Meanwhile, Sweden has joined the fray with “Beyond,” the directorial debut of actress Pernilla August. The film, a story of a young woman growing up in an abusive home in the 1970s, stars Noomi Rapace (the original Lisbeth Salander, in case you’d forgotten) and premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, where it was warmly reviewed and won the Critics’ Week prize.

Fast-forward a year, and Taiwan’s recently announced submission, “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” premiered in the Venice competition last week. Reviews for the film, a large-scale historical drama concerning the Taiwanese rebellion against Japanese rule in the 1930s, have been rather spotty. Despite being at Venice both this year and last, I haven’t seen either film. There’s a lesson to be learned there somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is.

Finally, the Japanese have submitted a film I’m having a tough time finding any information about, Kaneto Shindo’s “Postcard” — so do enlighten us if you know anything.

Keep track of the growing submissions list with our dedicated page here.

[Photo: Sundance Selects]

→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

9 responses so far

  • 1 9-08-2011 at 2:16 pm

    Andrej said...

    protagonized by Etsushi Toyokawa, it’s based on the effects of World War II – a close subject for the director, whom has taken it to the big screens in prior occasions. The action begins in 1944, when soldier Sadazo Morikawa recieves an emotive postcard from his wife Tomoko on the night before parting to the Filipino front. In an attempt to avoid military censorship, and fearing he won’t survive combat, Morikawa asks another soldier, Keita Matsuyama, to return to Tokyo to personally deliver his reply to his wife.

    Extracted from premiososcars2012.blogspot.com http://goo.gl/SPUCx Trailer within.

  • 2 9-08-2011 at 2:23 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Thanks for that!

  • 3 9-08-2011 at 4:52 pm

    Max said...

    Very excited about “Pina.” You’d think the 3D, which has been getting raves, would give it something of a leg up… though maybe I’m completely off-base.

    I also wonder how familiar the Academy is with Bausch… I assume not very despite the fact that she was a giant of modern dance. Anyway, fingers crossed on this one.

  • 4 9-08-2011 at 5:15 pm

    Tisforthommy said...

    I am German and I hate (or at least don’t really like) pretty much all submissions in recent years. Especially the ones that got nominated. Yes, including “The Lives of Others”, which is decent but not more. Submitting “Pina” is the ballsiest choice the committee has made for a long time. I don’t remember. Was “Gegen die Wand” (Akin’s “Head-on”) submitted? Because it’s my favourite German film of the last 20 years.

  • 5 9-08-2011 at 8:25 pm

    Danny said...

    I’ve been excited about seeing this movie for months. Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten dreams is one of the best uses of 3D and I expect Pina will surpass it in that respect. I’ve heard great advance reviews coming out of the UK, including critics who loved it while conceding they normally don’t care for modern dance.

    PS: head-On wasn’t submitted, but Akin’s The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) was.

  • 6 9-09-2011 at 1:44 am

    Edward L. said...

    Postcard is on IMDb under its Japanese title Ichimai no Hagaki. There are a couple of external reviews there giving a bit of information on it.

    I thought the director’s name rang a bell. This is the man who made the spooky Onibaba – he’s now nearly 100 years old!

  • 7 9-09-2011 at 5:09 am

    Diogo Figueira said...

    There’s a huge chance Portugal is coming out with “José and Pilar”, an extraordinary documentary on the last years of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, precisely under the very same strategy.

    Variety once wrote about the film:


  • 8 9-09-2011 at 10:39 am

    JF said...

    Not a chance anymore, Diogo:

    PORTUGAL has officially chosen the José Saramago documentary JOSÉ E PILAR (JOSÉ AND PILAR) to be its Oscar submission.

    Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkxyTc9BbkU
    Poster: http://www.josesaramago.org/images/jose_e_pilar/jose_e_pilar_cartaz.jpg

  • 9 9-09-2011 at 4:12 pm

    Diogo Figueira said...

    That’s it ;)