Saturday, July 31, 2010

FOREIGN OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2011- POLAND to VIETNAM

Here's the last tranche of my predictions. I'd like to call special attention to the section on my former home country of THAILAND. I'm predicting "Uncle Boonmee" like everyone else, but this is one of the predictions I am LEAST confident about. Deep inside, I think Thailand will ignore the Palme d'Or winner and go with royal epic "King Naresuan III". I may yet change my mind, but I'm leaving Boonmee for now.

76. POLAND has a strong slate this year, and a lot of quality films to choose from, mostly set during the “bad old days” of Communism. My guess is “Dark House”, on the basis of its strong reviews from audiences and critics alike. It’s a thriller/murder mystery telling two related stories (one in the 70s, one in the 80s) at a remote farm in the mountains of Poland. Two other films are going to be tough to beat; namely, “All That I Love”, an acclaimed youth drama about a teen punk band set against the background of the Solidarity Movement and “Little Rose”, about the uneducated moll of a high-ranking secret policeman who is sent to spy on a Jewish dissident writer. “Little Rose” should come second since it won the Gdynia Film Festival. Rounding out the top five films are “Mother Teresa of Cats”, about a gruesome case of matricide, and “Venice”, about a boy whose family trip to Venice gets derailed to the Polish countryside as a result of WWII. That said, Poland often likes to choose a film released right before the cutoff date, which means they could select a new film (“Teresa” is one of these) that I don’t know about. Other dark horses: “General Nil”, a bio-drama about an acclaimed general who fought against the Nazis and Communists (but which is supposed to be really boring), “Father, Son and Holy Cow”, a comedy about a farm animal with a taste for classical music and human trafficking drama “Between Two Fires”.

77. PORTUGAL, unlikely ALL of their fellow Western European nations (bar little Luxembourg, who has only been entering the competition since 1997) has never gotten an Oscar nomination, mostly because they send abstract, arty films that nobody likes, including Portuguese domestic audiences. Perhaps it’s because they were neutral during WWII and they don’t have any Holocaust movies. That will change this year with “The Consul of Bordeaux”- a Schindler's List-esque true story about the moral dilemma of a consul in neutral Portugal faced with Jewish refugees trying to escape to the New World. Unfortunately for Portugal, I think it won’t premiere in time...Maybe next year. This year, Portugal has the usual crop of obscure, abstract films. The highest-profile one is “The Strange Case of Angelica”, a surreal tale about a photographer hired to snap the final photos of a dead girl, directed by prolific 101-year old Manoel de Oliveira. He was selected five times in the 1990s, but only twice since then. Other Portuguese films with a chance: “Civil War”, about a shy boy at the beach in the 1980s, “How to Draw a Perfect Circle”, about incest among two rich siblings, “The Last Flight of the Flamingo”, about UN peacekeepers in Mozambique, “The Portuguese Nun”, about a French actress obsessed with a nun, “To Die Like A Man”, about the life and death of a transsexual, and “Twist of Fate”, about a cuckolded husband. My picks: the surprise selection of “To Die Like A Man”, which has gotten the best reviews, followed by “Angelica” and “The Portuguese Nun”.

78. PUERTO RICO is almost certain to choose “Maria”, an epic love story and a remake of a classic film. Set in the year 1800 amid lush plantations and Spanish colonial rule, it’s directed by the star of the 1970 version. Most Puerto Rican films this year seem to involve doomsday scenarios caused by zombies (“Barricada”, “Cannabis 2”) or disease (“Caos”). Dark horses: “The Orphanage Cafra”, which tells interlocking stories and “America”, a woman-in-jeopardy drama set in NYC and co-starring Edward James Olmos (though neither one may premiere before the deadline), as well as the aforementioned thriller “Caos”, which is probably the biggest film of the year.

79. ROMANIA, unlike almost all of its Eastern European cohorts, has never advanced to the next round. That said, the “Romanian New Wave” is hot on the festival circuit, and they have lots of good films. Their most likely choice this year is “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle”, the Silver Bear winner at Berlinale. It’s about a juvenile delinquent about to be released from jail, who confronts the mother who he believes ruined his life. Reviews have been positive but divisive- I’m not sure it’s the best decision, but Romania usually picks the obvious choice. Also very likely: black comedy, “Medal of Honor”, about a senior citizen whose life changes in the post-Communist era when he wins a medal for service in WWII that he doesn’t remember earning. It’s opening on the last possible day in Romania. In third place: “Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man”, a big-scale war drama about the resistance movement to the Communists. In fourth place: “Tuesday After Christmas”, about a man trying to choose between his long-time wife and his passionate mistress. In fifth: “Europolis”, about a woman and her son going to France to pick up an inheritance. Among the other possibilities: “Morgen” (Locarno), about a security guard who discovers an illegal Kurdish immigrant, “Aurora” (Cannes), a 3-hour film about a family living in a neighborhood with a serial killer, “Francesca” (Venice), about a woman emigrating to Italy, and the one I personally most want to see- “Hello! How Are You?”, Romania’s first romantic comedy in nearly twenty years, about two unhappily married people who unknowingly “meet each other” online. As for French-language “The Concert”, and “Katalin Varga”, directed by an Englishman, I think they’d prefer having a 100% Romanian effort.

80. RUSSIA - Russia’s nominee was long thought to be a shoo-in. “Burnt by the Sun 2” was a long-awaited, massively expensive production by Nikita Mikhalkov- one of Russia’s favorite directors (submitted four times) and one of Oscar’s favorite foreign directors (an astonishing two nominations and one win in this category) and it was the sequel to Russia’s last winning film in this category. Unfortunately, the film was a flop and nobody inside or outside Russia has many positive things to say about it. There’s a slight chance Russia may send it anyway, but odds are against it. The most popular movie of the year is probably “What Women Want”, a warmly received comedy about four buddies on a road trip, but the dour Russians usually want something with more pathos. I think the two top contenders are “How I Ended This Summer”,a psychological thriller about two men stationed alone on a remote island outpost in the remote Arctic region of Chukotka (and probably the biggest Russian hit on the festival circuit this year), and last year’s costume drama, “Tsar”, the epic story of Ivan the Terrible that I predicted last year, but which premiered too late in Russia to qualify. I hate making the same prediction twice...I’ll go for “Summer” this year.

SERBIA has no big films this year, but they have a good selection of smaller ones. I think they’ll choose “Woman with a Broken Nose”, a black comedy (the Serbs do these so well!) with pretty great reviews and an intriguing plot- it’s about how a woman’s attempted suicide affects three lives, and it stars two of the stars of the superb “The Trap”. Renowned director Goran Paskaljevic and his son, first-time director Vladimir- will compete with each other with two new films. Goran has been entered in the Oscar competition four times and now has “Honeymoons”, a topical story about an ethnic Serbian and ethnic Albanian couple who are both trying to emigrate to Italy. Son Vladimir has dramedy “Devil’s Town”, about intersecting lives in the capital Belgrade, which has been compared to Dad’s “Powder Keg”. In fact, many of the Serbian candidates feature a number of interlocking stories of strangers; that must say something psychological about the war-weary Serbians. This includes “White White World”, set in a decaying industrial town, and "Tilva Ros”, about life in a copper mining town (winner at Sarajevo). Two other films with a strong chance: “Besa”, about a Serb man with a Slovene wife and her forbidden romance with an Albanian friend of the family, and anti-war drama “The Enemy”, about a group of shell-shocked veterans. Top Five: “Nose”, followed by “Besa”, "Tilva Ros", “Honeymoon” and “Enemy”. Less likely but possible: “Early Frost”, the poetic story of life in the multi-ethnic province of Vojvodina (the only region in Yugoslavia that remains united with Serbia), “Motel Nana”, about a teacher whose life is turned upside down when he is accused of beating a student, “Montevideo, We Love You”, a World Cup drama set in 1930, and “Ordinary People”, an acclaimed war drama which would be a key contender but I think it was released last year. Real dark horses: a family wins the Green Card lottery in “Mamarosh” and two women switch roles in identity theft thriller “Marked”. Impossible: torture porn “Serbian Film”, referred to as Serbia’s answer to “Saw”.

82. SINGAPORE took last year off, but will probably return this year with “Sandcastle”, which played in a special section at Cannes. Though the film, about a young man questioning authority after learning about skeletons in the family closet, will likely court controversy, it was partially funded by the State film board and will get a domestic release in August, so its Cannes pedigree should get it an official nod. If it’s too controversial, you can expect them to choose jet-black comedy “Forever”, about the fine line between love and obsession. In third place: Tamil-language thriller “Gurushetram”. They have a good number of non-English language films this year, but violent action movies (“Kidnapper”) and silly comedies (“Happy Go Lucky”, “Old Cow, Bitter Grass”) need not apply.

83. SLOVAKIA held their bi-annual National Film Awards this year, but all the major nominees were eligible last year. This year, their most likely (only?) choice is “Flying Cyprian”, a big-budget (by local standards) film about an 18th century monk who develops a flying machine. Interestingly, Slovakia’s past two big-budget dramas (“Bathory” and “Janosik”) were passed up by the Slovak commtitee, but there was more competition those years. This year, the Slovaks have little to choose from- “Cyprian” opens July 29th and it’s the first domestic production released this year. Other upcoming possibilities (if they open): “English is Easy, Csaba is Dead”, a dark comedy about a mafia family trying to learn English from a kidnapped teacher, “Naty, or You Can’t Cheat Your Fate“, about an eccentric high-IQ teen, and “Former People”, about a famed 1960s murderess. Less likely: Gypsy drama “Indian Summer”, guardian angel fantasy “Angel Against His Own Will”.

84. SLOVENIA had a good film last year, that (somewhat surprisingly) got a well-deserved U.S. release. This year’s most likely nominee is “9:06”, a spare (71 minutes) psychological thriller about a Slovenian police inspector delving into the life of a mysterious suicide. It swept the Slovenian Film Awards last year winning almost every award. The directors of their 2003, 2005 and 2007 submissions all have new films out- “Circus Fantasticus” is a drama with no dialogue about a man whose wife is killed during the Yugoslav wars, “Personal Baggage” is a drama about a middle-class family, and “Slovenian Girl” (which was just picked up for a US release through Film Movement), is about a young, educated student who moonlights as a hooker. “9:06” handily defeated its main competitor ("Slovenian Girl") at the Film Awards, and probably will do the same with the Oscar committee.

85. SOUTH AFRICA's choice is almost certain to be mother-daughter AIDS tearjerker “Life, Above All”. Filmed in the obscure Northern Sotho language (also known as Sepedi), it was one of the most talked about films in Cannes (it got a 10-minute standing ovation and better reviews than Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee”) and is a very likely Oscar nominee. “Tembra” (in Xhosa), a football drama about a young village boy, should get the nod if “Life” doesn’t open in time. Unlikely: “Shirley Adams”, a heartbreaking drama about a mother taking care of her newly paralyzed 20-year old son, probably has too much English to qualify, and romantic comedy “I Now Pronounce You Black and White“ is out of its league.

86. SPAIN has less contenders this year than most of the other large European countries. Spain’s format is to choose their submission out of three finalists. My predictions for this shortlist are “Amador”, “Even the Rain” and “Lope”. “Amador”’s director was chosen once (for “Mondays in the Sun”) over Almodovar, and is a story of a young woman (the star of “Milk of Sorrow”) working as caregiver for an old man. “Even the Rain” is a movie about the voyages of Christopher Columbus, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. “Lope” is the biography of a famed Spanish playwright, which co-stars Brazilian actress Sonia Braga. Challengers for the shortlist include “Julia’s Eyes”, a much-awaited horror film that would be a strong contender except that (a)- “The Orphanage” was ignored by Oscar and (b)- it’s currently scheduled to be released after the deadline, and “Cell 911”, a box-office smash hit and Best Picture winner at last year’s Goya Awards. It appears eligible as it was released after October 1, 2009 in Spain. “Mosquito Net”, winner at Karlovy Vary in 2010, about a woman with Alzheimers, is also a potential threat. Bottom line: The cliquey Spanish Academy likes experienced directors that they know and like; they’ve only chosen a debut director once in the past 25 years, making things difficult for “Rain”, and I don’t believe they’ve ever chosen a foreign director, making things tricky for “Lope”’s Andrucha Waddington. That leaves “Amador” getting the nod.

87. SRI LANKA sent a film for the second time last year and it was about the recently ended civil war. In that vein, I predict they’ll send “Under the Sun and Moon”, about a soldier haunted by memories of an incident in which he was unable to save his commanding officer. Other choices: “Whirlwind”, the life story of a coffin-maker from a dysfunctional family, “Solitude in a Valley” about an artist whose paintings are somehow related to his dreams, and “Thank You, Come Again”, about a veteran soldier looking after his sick father.

88. SWEDEN has had a weak year. The Swedish nominee is chosen by the Guldbagge Awards jury, and “The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo” and its two fellow Best Picture nominees are not eligible due to early release dates. (The Swedes are probably kicking themselves for not choosing the Guldbagge winner “Tattoo”, which has turned into a major international hit, when it was eligible last year). This year, a trio of films have an equal shot to represent the Swedes. Although they look interesting, none of them look good enough to compete for an Oscar. Two of the films co-star Tuva Novotny- “The Wedding Photographer”, a comedy-drama about an unemployed photographer who is hired to shoot a high-society wedding; it got decent reviews and was a box-office success , and “Dear Alice”, a movie about racial tensions in modern-day Stockholm, co-starring Danny Glover as a Gambian immigrant. There’s also the upcoming “Trust Me”, a comedy about a group of people working at a theatre. My prediction: “Trust Me” gets a surprise nod, with “Alice” in second and the “Photographer” in third. In fourth: “Nasty Old People” a dramedy about a neo-Nazi nurse working in an old folk’s home (!). Dark horses: “Sebbe”, a harrowing drama about an impoverished youth with special powers, “Simple Simon”, about a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome and “Easy Money”, a youth-oriented thriller. Less likely: “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”, the third part in the series, arthouse murder drama “The Ape”, and upcoming supernatural thriller “Psalm 21”. Trivia: Sweden (along with Spain) is the only Western European country never to choose a film directed by a woman.

89. SWITZERLAND has no high-profile films in the spotlight this year, which is not to say that they don’t have any good ones. “Bright on Black”, an intriguing “suicide romance” starring Bruno Ganz, would be my pick, but I don’t expect it will be released in time. That leaves two dysfunctional family dramas set amidst the Swiss Alps as their front-runners: “Animal Heart” (in French), the surprise winner at this year’s Swiss Film Awards, about an abusive husband and his wife, and the soon to be released “Songs of Love and Hate” (in German) about a precocious teen girl whose sexual awakening raises hell amidst the family, and which will compete for the Grand Prize in Locarno. In third place: “Hugo Koblet” (in French), a biopic about a celebrated Swiss cyclist. In fourth: “Accomplices”, a murder mystery about the death of a teen boy and the disappearance of his girlfriend (it lost to “Heart” at the Swiss Oscars). In fifth: “La Petite Chambre”, about the relationship between an elderly man and his nurse. Less likely: “Murder Farm” (another murder mystery), “Little Paradise”, about a mentally challenged woman who falls for an older man and “Taxiphone”, about a Swiss couple submersed in Moroccan culture when their car breaks down in the desert. Out of the running: after three failed submissions, Switzerland has rightfully fallen out of love with Jean-Luc Godard, but his latest exercise in self-indulgent faux-art, “Socialism”, didn’t open in Swiss cinemas anyway. My prediction: “Animal Heart” by a snout.

90. TAIWAN's biggest film “Seediq Bale” isn’t finished yet, but they still have a good field of potential submissions this year. In fact, their local film industry is doing quite well. The two big contenders this year are “Au Revoir, Taipei”, a fun romantic comedy cum crime caper that leaves its audience smiling, and box-office smash “Monga”, about juvenile gangs in 1980s Taiwan. Both of these films were shocked to be beaten by upstart documentary “Let the Wind Carry Me” at the 2010 Taipei Film Festival, but I don’t think this analysis of a local cinematographer will repeat here. The Audience Award at the Festival went to dark horse “Taipei Exchanges”, (which one reviewer calls a Taiwanese "Amelie”), about a young coffee addict working in a cafĂ©. Other dark horse contenders: “Hear Me”, about the romance between a young man and a deaf girl, “Seven Days in Heaven”, a black comedy about a number of characters at a funeral, and four movies by previously submitted directors- “Tears”, about a detective seeking redemption, “How are You, Dad?”, ten short films about father-child relationships, “Uma 2010”, which has no information online, and “Face” the latest art film from Tsai Ming-liang, set in Paris and with mostly poor reviews. My predictions: “Au Revoir” gets the nod, followed by “Monga” and “Tears”, with “Taipei Exchanges” and “Hear Me” rounding out the Top Five.

91. TAJIKISTAN's latest film, “True Noon” was released last year (I’ve heard very good things about it), and their next-known film “Waiting for the Sea”, by the director of the delightful “Luna Papa”, is in pre-production. Also, I’ve heard that the last cinema in the capital was closed. So all-in-all, it’s unlikely Tajikistan can participate this year.

92. TANZANIA submitted a film once in 2001. This year, they have two movies produced by expatriate filmmakers- “Memories of a Burning Tree”, a drama in Swahili made by a Singaporean director about a man on a quest to find his mother’s grave, and “Lovely Gamble”, a super low-budget film made by Tanzanian-Britons. Tanzania will almost certainly skip this year, but “Burning Tree” could be chosen.



93. THAILAND's National Film Board does not like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and they now face a dilemma. Should they choose the first-ever Thai winner of the Palme d’Or- “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”- to represent them at the Oscars? On one hand, the always pragmatic Thais may see this as their best-ever chance of winning a nomination in a competition that they’ve been entering without success since 1984. Unlike many of his other films, “Boonmee” had no trouble with the Thai censors and it received a theatrical release at home where it has been more or less well-received. On the other hand, Thailand usually prefers commercial films rather than arthouse, and red-eyed monkey ghosts aren’t necessarily going to bring Thailand an Oscar nomination even with a Palme d’Or in hand. Apichatpong has previously won two major awards at Cannes (for “Blissfully Yours” and “Tropical Malady”), but Thailand’s Academy ignored them, and there’s a fair bit of internal competition coming from the two big films at this year’s Thai Oscars (Best Picture winner “October Sonata” and Best Director winner, the serial killer thriller “Slice”) , as well as three expensive period epics that each took years to make (8th century “Edge of the Empire”, 18th century “Bangrajan 2”, and the 800-pound gorilla, 16th century “King Naresuan III”). In the end, I think the race will come down to three films- (A) “Uncle Boonmee”, (B) “October Sonata”, a sad romantic drama about star-crossed lovers set in the turbulent 1970s, and (C) “King Naresuan III, directed by Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol who has represented Thailand a record four times (Thailand nominated Part II in 2007) and reportedly the most expensive Thai film ever made. I’m torn...I’m predicting “Boonmee”, but I have a feeling I’m wrong.

94. TUNISIA has sent two films since 1995. They have two promising films this year- "Buried Secrets" and "The String"- but I'm not sure either will inspire them to send it in. "Secrets", by the director of "Satin Rouge", about three female squatters in a long-abandoned house, is the more likely of the two. "String", a drama about a middle aged gay son returning home from abroad to live with his fabulous mother (60s film star Claudia Cardinale) would probably be received better than the quiet artiness of "Secrets" but I doubt that even a liberal Arab country like Tunisia would want a gay-themed film to represent them!

95. TURKEY 's film industry is doing well, although their biggest hits are comedies and horror movies made purely for entertainment and not awards. No less than nine films are potential Oscar submissions this year, although the two most likely are “Breath”, an anti-war film about the psychological terror experienced by an outpost of 40 Turkish soldiers defending against a Kurdish attack, and “Honey”, the winner of Berlinale 2010 about a young boy whose father is a beekeeper. The two biggest possible spoilers are “Two-Way Switch”, a black comedy about a man trying to murder his wife (winner of the Istanbul Film Festival and oft compared to the Coen Brothers), and “Kosmos”, a dreamy, arthouse film (winner of Anatolia and Yerevan Film Festivals). Rounding out the Top Five is “Children of Diyarbakir”, a movie about two Kurdish orphans who meet the man who murdered their parents. The other four- “Envy” (family intrigue), “Men on the Bridge” (experimental), “On the Way to School” (Turkish teacher teaching cute Kurdish kids) and cross-cultural pseudo-romance “The Wrong Rosary”- probably won’t be able to make it, but the Turks can be unpredictable. My prediction: “Honey” won a major award, but “Breath” is a bigger film...I’m really not sure, but will choose box-office hit “Breath”

96. UKRAINE is not accustomed to being seen on the film festival circuit, so their Cannes competitor “My Joy”, a nihilistic, depressing road movie set in provincial Russia, should be enough to spur Ukraine’s return to the competition after a one-year hiatus. The only other films on the radar are Kira Muratova’s “Melody for a Barrel Organ”, a three-hour allegorical tale featuring a pair of lost children and “Day of the Defeated”, about Communist authorities intervening in a woman’s funeral. Ukraine has never gone for one of Muratova’s films before, so I think “Joy” is safe.

The 97. UNITED KINGDOM is going to have the same predictions as last year, since the two films I predicted didn’t premiere in time. Most of their Oscar submissions have been in Welsh, as is my prediction- “Patagonia”- a wide-scale movie about a real-life Welsh community that emigrated to the wilds of Argentina. I’m pretty sure that it will be the nominee, but there’s also “She A Chinese” about illegal Chinese immigrants in England, and “Pusher”, a Hindi-language crime drama set in London.


98. URUGUAY has a small film industry, yet they always seem to have a difficult decision at Oscar time. This year’s race (like last year) boils down to two films- “Hiroshima”, another of the minimalist wry dramas that Uruguay is famous for, and “Leo’s Room”, a gay coming-out story. It will be a hard decision- “Hiroshima” is directed by Pablo Stoll, one of Uruguay’s most accomplished young directors, and this is his first film since the suicide of his longtime co-director Juan Pablo Rebella. The movie, about an aspiring singer, has gotten mixed reviews...definitely not as good as “Leo’s Room”, which co-stars Cesar Troncoso, who has co-starred in almost every Uruguayan submission ever. Single-take horror flick “The Silent House” has its admirers, but won’t factor in. I’m not sure what they’ll do. Both directors are thirty-something and will have a chance to be selected again in the future. Gay rights in Uruguay are moving forward pretty quickly. I’m guessing the Uruguayans go with the superior “Leo”.

99. VENEZUELA‘s films rarely ever win awards, and a recent trend of making films that conform to Chavista political dogma has not helped the quality of national filmmaking. They should choose “Hermano”, the winner of the Grand Prize at the Moscow Film Festival, and the most acclaimed Venezuelan film in years, but I’m not sure if this football/family revenge drama of two “brothers” from the slums has the appropriate revolutionary credentials to rep Venezuela. Most of the films I predicted last year did not open until late 2009/2010, including big-scale historical dramas “Zamora” and “ Taita Boves”. Both of these films are definitely Chavez-friendly (both are true stories about revolting against the wealthy upper-class), as is “Habana Eve”, a romantic comedy set in Cuba, and are all by previously submitted directors, as is “Unauthorized”, an arty drama by Elia Schneider. I’m predicting “Hermano”, but think that one of the expensive historical movies could easily slip in, especially “Taita Boves”.

100. VIETNAM has had a strong year, and I predict they choose lavish period drama “Heroes of the Tay Son Dynasty”, an 18th century dramatization about a peasant rebellion that defeated the Chinese. It will be a good opportunity to show that the Vietnamese can make the same sort of big period battle movies that the big guys (i.e. China, Japan, Korea and Thailand) can do. Two arthouse movies will provide stiff competition, especially “Bi, Don’t Be Afraid”, about a boy and his grandfather (Cannes 2010), but also from erotic drama “Adrift” (FIPRESCI Winner; Venice 2009), although it didn’t impress too many people at the National Film Awards. Upcoming releases “Inferno” (a very stylish-looking thriller) and “Endless Field” (about rural life) could make it if they’re really, really good, but probably face too much competition. FYI: The winner of the 2010 Golden Kite Awards is not eligible (“Don’t Burn”, which represented the Vietnamese last year).

SIX POSSIBLE DEBUTS:
Last year, for the first time since 1988, no new countries entered the competition. Most sizeable countries (outside of Africa) have already sent a film at least once, although there are a few more that could send their first film this year. The oil-rich Gulf states have begun sponsoring film production, film festivals and television series in a region where little or none existed before. Aside from two Kuwaiti films in the 1970s, the countries of the Arabian Peninsula have never entered. Most likely to enter a film this year is the most visible country in the region- the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES- which could send “City of Life”, which tells three stories (one in Arabic, one in English, one in Hindi) about the underside of glitzy Dubai. The trailer looks very interesting and it was a box-office hit at home, although some Emiratis have criticized it for showing an unfavorable picture of the image-conscious city. 24 of the EU's 27 members submit films on a more-or-less regular basis, and Ireland has submitted a single film. That leaves tiny CYPRUS and MALTA as the typical truants from EU Film Festivals the world over. The South Cyprus government (which controls the EU seat) has devoted money to film, and will almost certainly send a movie sooner or later.....This year, they have "Guilt, about the nightmares of a Cypriot arms dealer. It was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the premiere was attended by the Cypriot President, and it got a Best Pic nomination at the Greek Film Awards. MALTA has a potential candidate in " Kont Diga' ", billed as Malta's first-ever independent film, about an emigre who returns to his home country after many years abroad. The most likely new country to submit from the Americas is not a “nation” at all...The vast, autonomous province of GREENLAND may try to send “Nuumioq”, set amid the island's beautiful fjords, about a terminally ill man falling in love. Greenland may try and take this step as one of many to gradually assert independence from Denmark. PANAMA could submit for the first time with comedy “Chance”, about two maids who decide to wage war against the stuck-up aristocratic family they work for. Supposedly based on a true story, it looks quite funny (although not Oscary). From Eastern Europe, newly-independent MONTENEGRO is this year's most likely debutante for the government co-sponored "Little Love God", about a Macedonian living in the Montenegrin capital, whose life turns upside down when his wife disappears, his bank goes bankrupt and the police confiscate his passport.

Less likely: Earthquake-scarred HAITI has “Moloch Tropical”, about political intrigue and misrule in the country but the Haitian premiere was delayed (canceled?) due to the earthquake. KOSOVO may challenge the Academy to define a country once again (it's not a UN member due to protests from Russia, Serbia and others), with "Beyond the Road", one of the first feature films since the region gained de facto independence in 2008. It's a digital film about a man in some sort of a purgatory. BAHRAIN has “Longing” (Haneen), the country’s eighth feature film (how funny to come from a country where you can count on two hands!)- a meditation of the relationship between two families- one Sunni, one Shi’ite. QATAR’s first-ever feature film, “Clockwise” (Aqaribabzah) is a horror-thriller about djinns (aka genies). ANGOLA, whose oil-based economy is booming, has “Bullets and Guns”, a parody of the popular local gangsta' films, which apparently began being churned out after the local success of “City of God”. MOZAMBIQUE has Portuguese co-production "The Last Flight of the Flamingo (See PORTUGAL). From Asia, there's UZBEKISTAN, which produces a few dozen films each year, including “Narigi Sohilda Qolgan Bolalik”, about life in a village over a 70-year period. NORTH KOREA sent a rare film to the Moscow film festival- “Notes of a Woman Soldier”, a propaganda film about a woman who realizes the value of serving her country while in a remote outpost, and MACAU has a rare film in “Roulette City”, about a man who comes to the city-state to raise money for his mother’s operation.

4 comments:

Anthony Lopez said...

Well I guess you live down here in Venezuela.. and you know how everything works here. You said a heavyweight lie "...political dogma has not helped the quality of national filmmaking" may I ask you what dogma are you talking about? Do you really think that we most make films that please our president?? Give me ONE example... a film like what "Hermano" which headline says "trying to escape from the most dangerous place in the planet" (refering to Caracas) do you think that please Chavez? That does not please any Venezuelan... and then people like you insist that there is no freedom of speech in Venezuela. I ask you once again: do you think it would be possible for a filmmaker to say (he) lives in the most dangerous place in the world in a dictatorial regime???

And can you give me an example of that recent trend of films that are Chavez friendly? like which? Our historical films that are just being made for our 200th independence anniversary... off course you don't understand that because in your country things like independence and fatherland are off topic...

I have another question for you... If I live in a dictatorial country (like you say) do you think I would be able to enter your website at 2am and see those horrible things you said about my country and my national cinema???

I think you should be more careful when you make comments that you might never ever visit

We produce an average of 30 feature-length films per year (in comparison to 8 ten years ago). Only this year 3 different venezuelan movies have won international awards for best movies. Something that we didn't experience since around 30 years ago.

once again I tell you... be more careful before you ramble once again about the country that fills the tanks of your cars and heat you in the winter.

dzong2 said...

Wow. Chill out!

This is not a political blog, so I'll ignore moststatements. Incidentally, I never said Venezuela was a dictatorship, and I never said "horrible things" about Venezuela either. Those are your words.

What i did say is that the Venezuelan Oscar selection committee appears to be politically influenced...Look at the decision to choose "1888" (a truly awful film) over "Secuestro Express", and the selection of the politically correct "Libertador Morales" (which nobody thought was a great movie) last year. "Postcards From Leningrad" may be another example, but I don't remember what it was up against that year.

Three more things.
1. Don't be too sure that I will "never visit" either, since I have plans to go next year. And this is a film blog.

2. Don't talk about politics on this blog.

3. If you want the truth, Venezuela had the Best Foreign Film of the year many years ago (in 1994), proving that Venezuelan films can be great....That's the only one I've ever seen that I liked, but I haven't seen many...

Anthony Lopez said...

If this is not a political blog then you are the one who should remove your political comments. You talked about Chavez-friendly films and he has never taken into account the Oscars. Maybe he doesn't even know that Venezuela submits a movie to the Oscars. If he was the one that selected the films "Miranda" or "Zamora" would have been chosen.

You said the Venezuelan commitee was politically-oriented because they choose "1888" (which had nothing to do with politics and yes it was an awful film) over "Secuestro Express" (not many ppl liked that movie down here... to me it was awful) and I don't know if you would have chosen a movie that blames kidnappings on your president and insist the city you live on is the dangerous place in the world (like there's no Baghdad or Mogadishu).

1. I hope you never visit it

2. You should start removing your political comments on Venezuela, North Korea, Sri Lanka... Then your blog will be politics-free

3. You mentioned an isolated case. And if you think that was the best venezuelan film you obviously don't know anything about Venezuelan movies

pce

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