Here's the next batch of countries....
26. COSTA RICA seems to be leading a Central American film renaissance. They submitted last year for only the second time, but they’ve released a number of films this year. The frontrunner is clearly the film I picked last year- “Cold Water of the Sea”- which was finally released in Costa Rica in March after winning half a dozen awards of the international circuit over the past year. It’s about a little girl whose tall tale of abuse has a major impact on her family. It faces competition from “El Ultimo Comandante” a film about post-war Nicaragua starring Damien Alcazar as an ex-general.
27. COTE D’IVOIRE has the only perfect record in this competition. They sent a film in 1976, won the Oscar and never sent a film again….They’re unlikely to enter this year as they’ve wasted most of the last six months in a ridiculous civil war trying to boot out the losing presidential candidate, who refused to step down and accept defeat. Their presumed choice would be “The Perfect Guy” (Le Mec Ideal), a romantic comedy which won Third Prize at the prestigious FESPACO African Film Festival in Ouagadougou. There’s also “Aya de Yopougon”, animated film based on a popular comic strip.
28. CROATIA’s Pula Film Festival is the source of all the Croatian nominees….This year’s awards will be given out on July 23, but many films have trouble getting released for months, like the film I predicted would represent Croatia last year- “72 Days”, a black comedy about a family trying to hide the death of a family member so that they can continue receiving her pension. It was released October 14, making it eligible this year, as is “The Show Must Go On”, a low-budget sci-fi drama about television after a nuclear bomb, which got quite positive reviews despite my dismissal of the film last year. In addition to these two, there are ten films at Pula (not sure which will be released in cinemas prior to the 9/30 deadline). The most prominent of these is “Spots” which booked spots in Karlovy Vary and Sarajevo, and is described as youthful thriller, but other contenders include “Lea & Darija” (which sounds most Oscary) about two rival dancers during WWII- a Croatia and a German Jew and two war dramas: “Josef” (World War I) and “Step By Step” (the Yugoslav Wars). Other contenders include “7sex7”, an erotic anthology, “The Little Gypsy Witch”, a musical-comedy about a Gypsy girl and Dalibor Matanic’ (Fine Dead Girls) “Daddy”, a psychological thriller. We’ll know more once the Pula Awards come out, but I predict “Lea & Darija”, followed by “72 Days” and “Spots”.
29. CUBA was the only major country not to enter the race last year, although I’m not sure why. They scored a single nomination in the 1990s with a gay-themed film and they could choose another this year with hit drama “Casa Vieja “, about a gay man who returns home and his father dies. In second place is a film by the same director- “Fabula”, a drama about two young people trying to make it in Havana. In third, “Ticket to Paradise” (Sundance), the most visible Cuban film on the circuit this year, an AIDS drama about disaffected youth in 1990s Cuba but the subject matter maybe too controversial? Two other films have a strong pedrigree- “Affinities”, an erotic drama about two couples on vacation, stars Jorge Perugorria and Vladimir Cruz, the two stars of Oscar nominee “Strawberry & Chocolate”, and “Chamaco”, a gritty urban drama shot in ten days, and directed by a two-time selected director. Another dark horse: “Long Distance” , about a woman trying to reunite old friends. Unlikely: erotic Little Red Riding Hood tale, “Ferrozz”.
30. CZECH REPUBLIC has a lot of good films this year, including new works by their last two Oscar nominees, Ondrej Trojan (“Zelary”) and Jan Hrebejk (“Divided We Fall”) plus surrealist Jan Svankmajer and a former President! Together, these three men have contributed more than one-third of Czech submissions since they became a separate country. Hrebejk has “Innocence”, a thriller about a respected family man who is jailed for a serious crime that he may not have committed. Svankmajer has “Surviving Life”, a surreal film (but not animated) about a man living both a real and a fictional life. Trojan has “Identity Card”, a bittersweet comedy about teenagers growing up in 1970s Czechoslovakia. However, all three of them are likely to beaten by “Lidice”, an acclaimed drama featuring three stories set against the backdrop of a Nazi burning of the Czech village of the same name. It’s supposed to be a great film and it’s a fitting representative, considering Czech history and Oscar’s WWII tastes. In second place will probably be “Identity Card”, followed by “Habermann”, a pre-WWII drama by a Slovak director about German-speaking Sudetenland, in third. Rounding out the Top Five: “Leaving”, written and directed by former Czech President and democracy hero Vaclav Havel, and “Surviving Life”. Unlikely but possible: the aforementioned “Innocence”, faerie tale costume drama “The Devil’s Bride” and a pair of wry comedies “Czech-Made Man” and “Nothing Against Nothing”.
31. DENMARK is the returning champion this year, after winning the Oscar for Susanne Bier’s “In A Better World”. Last year, they had so many films to choose from that “In A Better World” did not even get a nomination for Best Picture at the National Film Awards (The Bodils)! This year is just the opposite, and they’ll struggle to get a shortlist together. I predict that their traditional three-film shortlist will be “A Funny Man”, the biography of a famous Danish comic, unconventional romantic-comedy “The Truth About Men”, and the eventual Danish nominee- “A Family”, about a family dealing with the illness of their patriarch. It’s possible that one of the unreleased films, i.e. “Miss Julie”, a modern-day retelling of a Strindberg novel, slow-moving Cannes drama “Labrador” or animated film “Ronal the Barbarian” will displace “Truth About Men”, but I think “A Family” has this in the bag.
32. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC sent three films between 1983 and 1995 but nothing since. They had a good film year last year but didn’t send anything, so they won’t send anything this year either. Their highest-profile film is “Jean-Gentil” a film about a Haitian immigrant who loses his job teaching French in the DR, which has played at a few film festivals, but they also have Puerto Rican co-production “Love Child”.
33. ECUADOR has a half-dozen films coming out in 2011 which is pretty good for them. Their most likely submission is “Pescador”, by Ecuador’s leading director, Sebastian Cordero, in which a 30-year old fisherman’s life turns upside down when he tries to make some money off bags of cocaine that wash up on the beach. Runner-up: “A Monkey Among the Hens”, a historical drama about a 1941 dispute with Peru.
34. EGYPT will be difficult to predict. Last year, they had a strong lineup of well-known films but they shortlisted an obscure group I had mostly never even heard of. A lot has changed in Egypt in the past year…Some directors (e.g. “Yacoubian Building”’s Marwan Hamed) have fallen out of favor, and moves effectively banned by Mubarak appear to have secure the domestic distribution necessary to enter the Oscar race. A sextet of films have been playing on the Film Festival circuit this year, winning quite a few regional Arab awards. I think it will come down to “6,7,8”, a controversial film and arguably the best-reviewed one of the year, about women from different social classes who face sexual harassment in Egypt, or “Cairo Exit”, banned by the previous government for its depiction of interfaith romance but now awaiting release, about the lower-class residents of a Cairo suburb, which would be a symbol of a new Egypt. I predict “6, 7, 8”. In third place is “Microphone”, the most-awarded Egyptian film of the year, but I’m not sure its look at Cairo underground subcultures will have the same appeal. Less likely: “Hawi”, a minimalist look at life in Alexandria, “Lust”, about a upper-class woman living in the slums with her husband, and thriller “The Ring Road”.
35. ESTONIA has deserved nominations several times so I’ll forgive them the boring abstract mess they sent last year. This year, I count five eligible films- “A Friend of Mine”, about an old man trying to adjust to life after his wife’s death, “Gravedigger’s Daughter”, a drama about an 8-year girl growing up in dysfunctional family, “Idiot”, based on a Dostoyevsky novel, “Letters to Angel”, about an Estonian who returns from the war of Afghanistan after having converted to Islam, “Rat-Trap”, a political thriller and the oddly titled “Farts of Fury”, a rock comedy about a talentless band. I’m not sure any of these films has been screened. It will be a close race but the Estonians tend to like films with an edge, so I’ll predict topical “Letters to Angel” to beat “A Friend of Mine” by a hair.
36. ETHIOPIA sent a film last year for the first time. Ethiopia has a growing film industry, most of which are commercial comedies, romances and thrillers with low production values that cater to the domestic market. A shortage of cinemas means that films often have to wait a long time to just to get released. The only film I know of that has been shown outside Ethiopia is “Abay vs. Vegas”, about an Ethiopian-American in Las Vegas who wants to get married to have a wife to take care of him, and an Ethiopian woman who wants to get married to get a US Green Card. Neither person believes in love. Of their local features, the most promising looks like “Tizitah”, about a man educated abroad who moves to the impoverished Sidamo region.
37. FIJI could submit for the second time with “Pump Up the Mandali” a Bollywood-style Hindi-language musical set in Fiji and New Zealand. The film is about four poor Indo-Fijian boys who win a chance to compete in a talent contest in faraway New Zealand. Although Fiji tends to favor indigenous Melanesian cultural projects, Fiji submitted the film as their representative to the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (the first time Fiji has participated) so they could send it to the Oscars as well.
38. FINLAND doesn’t have any easy choice this year. They have twenty eligible features this year plus some documentaries (they chose one last year) and none of them have made much of a mark. The best-reviewed is clearly “Le Havre” by Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki, a dreary drama about a man helping smuggled immigrants which won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes. Finland selected Aki Kaurismaki films in 1996, 2002 and 2006, achieving their only Oscar nomination ever for 2002’s “Man Without A Past”. However, the other two films (“Drifting Clouds” and “Lights in the Dusk”) were withdrawn from consideration by the cranky Kaurismaki, leaving Finland without a nominee that could have gone to an up-and-coming director. The Finns may agree “Le Havre” is the best Finnish film of the year, but they’d have to be crazy to choose it. They could go with a different Kaurismaki…His brother Mika has “Brothers”, about a reunion of three half-brothers who have different mothers but the same father. Absurd comedy “Lapland Odyssey” won Best Picture at last year’s Finnish Jussi Awards in a weak year while popular Christmas action-fantasy-comedy “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” won most of the technical awards. Two upcoming films also have a chance at the nomination: “Iris” is a period drama set in 1890 about an 8-year old girl in the Swedish-speaking Finnish territory of Åland, while “Journey to Eden” is about two non-Finns (a Basque and a Swiss) travelling through Northern Spain. And if they want a documentary like last year, they could send “Selling the Silence”, about a family of entrepreneurs in frigid Northern Finland. The last contender is “The Good Son”, about a narcissistic mother who flees with her two teenaged sons to the family villa. Finland’s Top Five: I bet they choose “Iris”, followed by “Le Havre”, “Lapland Odyssey”, “Rare Exports” and “Journey to Eden”. UPDATE (9/6/2011)- The cranky Aki Kaurismaki has reportedly granted his permission for Finland to consider his film for the Oscars, saying that with a Democrat in the White House, he is ending his "cultural boycott" of the USA. What an ass. It appears likely they'll choose "Le Havre", but I'm hoping they snub him. "The Good Son" has got some good buzz going.
39. FRANCE is the country I've decided not to research this year. Every year I give myself one country off, and France is the country that has the most bloggers following the process, so I'll just predict "Polisse" and be done with it. "Polisse"'s big handicap is that it's not scheduled to premiere until after the deadline, but France has been known to do an Oscar-qualifying run in September to get around the rules.
40. GEORGIA deserved a nomination last year for the fantastic “Street Days” far more than it did in 1996 for “A Chef in Love”. Their film industry is starting to re-emerge from post-Soviet bloom, as they pursue European and American co-productions and try to turn Georgia into a prime shooting location. Lots of good films are around this year but it’s definitely to find Georgian release date, so I’m not sure what’s eligible. History-fantasy-thriller “Forgotten King”, the longest one-take film in history, would seem a natural choice, but it’s not scheduled to premiere in Tbilisi until November, but it’s well-positioned for next year. I predict they send “Salt White” (Karlovy Vary), which tells the stories of a middle-aged waitress, a refugee from Abkazia and a homeless girl whose paths cross at a seaside resort town. Runner-up: “Chantrapas”, an ode to filmmaking about Soviet-era censorship, premiered at Cannes 2010 and may be eligible this year (not sure) but it represented France at the Tbilisi Film Festival, so the Georgians may not consider it a “local” film. In third place: “The Watchmaker”, about a documentary being made about an ongoing murder investigation. Less likely: “I’ll Die Without You” about two young strangers who are destined to meet, “Rene Goes to Hollywood”, a surreal comedy by a previously submitted director, and “Born in Georgia”
41. GERMANY has selected one of their Best Picture nominees at the Lola Awards fifteen out of sixteen times since 1995 (the one exception was acclaimed Hitler biography “Downfall”, which got three nominations for acting, but was snubbed for a Best Pic nomination). This year, five of the six Lola nominees are eligible….the winner and the most Oscar-friendly- comedy-drama“Vincent Wants to Sea”- was eligible last year, but didn’t even get shortlisted. The others were comedy-drama “Almanya- Welcome to Deutschland!” , a comedy-drama about a Turkish immigrant family in the 1960s which won the Silver Prize, “If Not Us, Who?” (Berlin), a drama about 1960s left-wing terrorists, co-starring the amazing Susanne Lothar, which won the Bronze Prize, “Young Goethe in Love”, a biography of the renowned poet as romantic comedy-drama, Tom Tykwer’s “Three”, about a three-way love triangle, plus “Der Ganz Grosse Traum”, a 19th century soccer drama which won the first-ever write-in nomination for Best Picture at the Lolas. In addition to those, we must consider the films from this year likely to be nominated at next year’s Lolas….”Cracks in the Shell”- a German “Black Swan” is one possibility, as are yet-to-released films like Franka Potente’s new “Small Lights” and “My Life in Orange”, a comedy about an Indian-inspired cult. Or they a big film that stayed under the radar like “Baader Meinhof Komplex”. My prediction: “Alamanya” won Second Prize at the Lolas and got the best reviews, but Turkish-themed films like “When We Leave” and “Edge of Heaven” are among the only recent Germany films that failed to be nominated…..I predict “Three”, followed by crowd-pleaser “Der Ganz Grosse Traum”, with “Alamanya” in third, “If Not Us” in fourth, “Goethe” in fifth and “My Life in Orange” in sixth.
42. GREECE made this easy by choosing their Oscar nominee in early May. I’m not sure how that works, since there must be a dozen Greek films that are released between May and the September 30 deadline, but Greece rarely makes sense to me. They were nominated for the first time in more than thirty years for “Dogtooth”, which I thought was very original, but not very good….This year they chose “Attenberg”, another odd film, this time an erotic film about love and death, revolving around two girls living in a dead-end town. It beat out grim drama “Knifer”, which actually won Best Picture at the Hellenic Film Awards over “Attenberg”, and “Homeland” which played in Venice, about a dysfunctional family coming to blows over an in-family adoption.
43. GREENLAND has less than 60,000 people, making this huge island the “smallest” country in the competition. They sent a film last year for the first time- “Nuummioq”- which I managed to see in April. It was interesting, but a little out of its league here. I’m so happy to report that they do surprisingly have a new film this year, namely “The Voyage of Inuk”, a French co-production about a Greenlandic teen from a dysfunctional family.
44. GUATEMALA used to have trouble completing one feature each year, but 2011 has seen a surprising spurt in film production with a half-dozen films this year (probably a record!), including dramas, comedies, documentary features and even a zombie horror movie ! The Government is also beginning to pay more attention to film financing. The most-accomplished looking films are “Faith”, about a young priest and his forbidden affair with a 13-year old, and “Dust”, about a pair of documentary filmmakers making a movie about indigenous people after the civil war, but those probably won’t make the cut-off date, so I’ll predict “Capsulas”, about a young boy growing up with a violent upbringing with “El Regreso de Lencho”, a drama about a graffiti artist that was postponed from last year, in second place. Comic , musical docudrama “Marimbas From Hell”, touted as a “100% Guatemalan film” looks too weird….. Indigenous drama “Distance” looks too slight (only 70 minutes)…..Hit comedy ”Puro Mula” looks too silly….Zombie film “Curfew” looks cool, but unlikely to inspire an Oscar bid….And a new documentary from Luis Argueta (who directed Guatemala’s 1994 submission) “Abused”, seems to be making the odd statement that Guatemalan workers have the God-given right to ignore America’s immigration laws because…well…just because! I’ll predict they send nothing, but “Capsulas” would be their best choice for a return.
45. HONG KONG returned to their traditional Cantonese roots last year with intimate drama “Echoes of the Rainbow” and this unassuming film was, in my opinion, one of their best submissions ever.....This year, I think they’ll be more inclined to edge to their big-budget inclinations. I predict they send Jackie Chan’s “1911”, a Mandarin-language blockbuster about the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty by Sun Yat-sen (played by Winston Chao, a good actor who has unfortunately made a career of playing only Sun Yat-Sen). It’s got starpower (Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi, Joan Chen) and is premiering right before the deadline, which Hong Kong generally likes. Also premiering the day before the deadline is Jet Li's "The Sorcerer and the White Snake", a 3D fantasy martial arts fairy tale based on Chinese mythology. Not very Oscary, but it will premiere in Venice. If neither film is any good, then it will be down to one of a pair of big, splashy martial arts period epics, set (like 1911) in the early 20th century. I’d argue that Peter Chan’s “Dragon” (starring Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro), has the edge over Benny Chan’s “Shaolin” (starring Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse). “Dragon” has slightly better reviews, received a midnight screening at Cannes, and Peter has repped Hong Kong once before. If they truly want a local Cantonese-language film like last year, I think it will be “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, by Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai, a romantic drama unlike many of their previous gangster film collaborations. Unlikely but possible: “Reign of Assassins” (starring Michelle Yeoh) is set in ancient China and was released in October 2010 and so will likely be forgotten among the other more recent martial-arts epics; “Lover’s Discourse”, a romantic omnibus. I would predict popular mystery “Detective Dee” might have a chance, but according to IMDB, it was released on the last day of last year’s eligibility cutoff, and “My Kingdom”, a Shanghai opera-martial arts combo, will be hurt by its Mainland director's drunk driving arrest (see CHINA).
46. HUNGARY almost had to cancel their annual Hungarian Film Week due to budget problems, but they pulled it together at the last minute, and the Best Film winner was “Adrien Pall” which played at Cannes 2010. The big film of the year however is “The Turn Horse”, a B & W by Bela Tarr which competed in Berlin and represented Hungary in both major Eastern European fests- Karlovy Vary and Sarajevo. “Adrien Pall” is about an obese nurse searching for her childhood friend. “Turin” is apparently about a man who beats his horse. Difficult as it may believe to be, both of these films are over two hours long! Variety calls “Horse” “an apocalyptically bleak statement about the futility of it all” while the Hollywood Reporter says of Pall, “this is the kind of film, despite its many qualities, that one has trouble envisioning people actually buying tickets to see.” Though either choice will assure Oscar voters to quickly cross Hungary off their list, the Hungarian Academy often sends these sorts of unlikable films. I predict that the horse weighs more than the lady- “Turin Horse” for me . Dark horses: “Retrace” (mostly in Romanian) about a Holocaust survivor visiting her homeland in Ceaucescu-era Romania, and comic anthology “East Side Stories”.
47. ICELAND will have nearly a dozen films eligible by year’s end….not bad for a bankrupt nation of 300,000! It’s interesting that almost all the films this year are directed by relatively new talent, including front-runner from Cannes, “Volcano” the feature debut from Oscar-nominated short film director Runar Runarsson. The film is a slice-of-life film featuring many of Iceland’s top actors, about a bitter old man, despised by his children, who has to deal with his wife’s stroke. Doesn’t sound exciting, but reviews have been good and it presumably takes advantage of Iceland’s spectacular volcano scenery. The chief competition is this year’s Best Picture Edda winner, “Undercurrent”, about a woman who takes a job on all-male fishing boat in response to a tragedy that gradually is revealed in the film. If it premieres in time, Baltasar Kormakur, who has repped Iceland three times since 2002, has a new film called “The Deep”, about the sole survivor of a shipwreck trying to survive amidst frozen landscape. Iceland has gone for dark comedies in the past, but “Polite People” (about a scam artist), “Rock Bottom” (about relationships and alcohol), “Either Way” (a 1980s road movie) and gay teen drama “Jitters” appear to be out of their league here. I very much want to see “Polite People” though.
48. INDIA goes with Aamir Khan films more often than not- five of the past eleven films had his involvement including five of the seven Hindi-language films (the other two starred megstar Shahrukh Khan). For this reason, I’m predicting “Mumbai Diaries” (aka Dhobi Ghat), a well-received arthouse drama (Toronto 2010) about Mumbai (home of Bollywood) that stars Khan and was directed by his wife Jiran Rao. “Diaries” has not been universally loved however and giant India produces nearly a thousand films each year, so they obviously have plenty to choose from. I wouldn’t count out “Adaminte Makan Abu”, a drama which won Best Picture at the National Film Awards over much more expensive fare, about an elderly Muslim couple seeking to go on the Hajj. This small regional film is in Malayalam, a language spoken by the Keralans of Southwest India. Three other strong contenders for the nomination include: “The Quest” (in Bengali), a large-scale drama about a renowned folk singer and poet, “Guzaarish”, a sort of Indian version of Spain’s “The Sea Inside”, which stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, and “Seven Sins Forgiven” (Berlin), a thriller about a mysterious woman, which may get a boost due to some American involvement. Other possibilities include “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey”, another sports-themed drama (this time about freedom fighters) by the director India’s last Oscar nominee “Lagaan”, slice-of-life artfilm “Autumn” (Toronto, Moscow), although India rarely chooses these, “Deiva Thirumagal” (in Tamil), about a mentally disabled man seeking custody of his child, “Stanley Ka Dabba”, a film about the lives of children at school, and “Shor in the City”, a crime drama. Unlikely but possible: “No One Killed Jessica” based on a real-life murder, “Traffic” (in Malayalam) and “Shaitan, both action-thrillers, and popular romantic comedy “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, about a dream vacation. “Delhi Belly” is too gross for Oscar and anyway is mostly in English.
49. INDONESIA’s big film news this year is that most Western film distributors are boycotting the country over a tax law, which means no Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda or other blockbusters in Jakarta multiplexes. The Indonesians rarely have any films that stand out internationally, but they do make some good films admidst a glut of horror films and teen dramas. This year’s most prominent film is the bizarre “Madame X”, an action-comedy about a transgender superhero who fights off intolerance. It looks delightfully transhy and fun, and it’s doubtful it will be represent the increasingly conservative Indonesians, but it’s produced by Nia diNata whose films were chosen three times, and it got surprisingly good reviews. Other films in the Top Five: “Batas”, by a well-known director, is about a woman volunteering in rural Borneo, “Hearts of Freedom” (Hati Merdeka) is a large scale war-drama about the war for independence, “The Mirror Never Lies”, about a young girl growing up in a Sumatran village has played overseas, “Under the Protection of the Kabbah” (Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah) is a lush period drama set in the 1920s, about a rich-poor romance. With no front-runner, other films that could slip through include cancer tearjerker “Little Letters to God”, melodrama “7 Women, 7 Hearts, 7 Loves”, and a few interchangeable dramas with cute kids (like they sent in 1998, 2007 and 2010) like “House Without a Window”, “Village Kid” or “Rindu Pernama”. My prediction: “Under the Protection of the Kabbah”, followed by “Hati Merdeka”, “Mirror Never Lies” and a surprise for “Madame X”.
50. IRAN is a fairly unpredictable country and their decision last year to change their national selection committee to include more government bureaucrats and less film professionals means we may expect more political choices. I’m always amazed that they choose to participate despite political issues with the US, and they have sent some fine films over the years, of which my favorite is “Colours of Paradise”. This will be their fifteenth year in a row. I see four main possibilities, although last year I should note that they picked a film I’d never even heard of. The obvious choice is “Nader and Simin: A Separation”, which won the Golden Bear in Berlin this year and also did fairly well at the National Fajr Film Festival, winning for Best Director, Screenplay and the Audience Award. It’s about an Iranian couple going through marital difficulties and covers a lot of topical issues, including emigration. It’s also currently in the IMDB Top 250 of all time. Its main competition is “The Maritime Silk Road”, a rare expensive period piece, about the first sea journey across the Indian Ocean, from Iran to India and China. “Silk Road” has the advantage of being more technically impressive and politically neutral. The other two dark horse possibilities are both religious films: “Crime”, a black & white drama with strong Islamic credentials about a man with a moral dilemma, which beat both of the front-runners for Best Film at Fajr, and “Kingdom of Solomon” another big-budget epic , this time set in Biblical times, which got mixed reviews but boasts strong production values. Movies by Iranian exiles or dissidents like “Au Revoir”, “This Is Not A Film”, “Dog Sweat” and “The Hunter” clearly won’t be considered. My prediction: even the mullahs don’t want to waste an actual shot at an Oscar- “Nader & Simin”.
51. IRAQ has seen a resurgence of cinema in its autonomous Kurdish region, and a few films get made among its Arab majority as well. So far, Iraq has sent two films by Kurdish director Jamil Rostami and two films by Arab director Mohamed al-Daradji. Neither man has a film this year, so some new blood may get a chance. I predict the Iraqis choose Arab-language “Qarantina”, a claustrophobic drama about a family living in abandoned house, over a series of smaller Kurdish dramas. In second place, I predict: “The Qandil Mountains”, a dark horse about the relationships between four ethnic groups in a mountainous region of the country. In third place, “The Singer”, about a man who is late to perform for a violent despot. Rounding out the Top Five are two Kurdish dramas “Red Heart”, a co-production with Norway, about two young lovers on the run, and “Mandoo” about Iranian Kurdish refugees. Although some of them may be disqualified for not meeting screening requirements in Iraq, it’s great that they have so much to choose from when I used to struggle to find one eligible film each year!
CYPRUS could send the winner of the Greek Academy Awards, “Knifer”, which was snubbed by Greece, but which has a Cypriot director…..It’s a about a angry young slacker who moves in with his uncle...GHANA's multi-lingual “Destiny of Lesser Animals” (in English, Fante, Twi and Ga) is a police drama about an illegal immigrant deported back to Ghana...