Here's the last batch....Now let's see which countries enter the race....
78. POLAND made things easy by choosing their Oscar nominee in June- namely, Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness”. Holland was at the center of one of this category’s biggest controversies, when Germany declined to send a film to the competition in 1991 even though Holland’s “Europa, Europa” was winning awards internationally. Germany said it wasn’t a German-majority film (Holland is Polish) although she had represented West Germany and been Oscar nominated in 1985! In all honesty, I probably would have guessed wrong with “Battle of Warsaw, 1920”, a war drama about the Russia-Poland conflict or “Joanna”, a baity film about a Polish woman who saves a Jewish girl during WWII. The winner of the Polish Eagles (the local Oscars) was “Essential Killing”, but this film starring Vincent Gallo was probably ineligible due to too much English.
79. PORTUGAL has arguably the world’s worst record. They are tied with Egypt for the most Oscar entries with no nominations but, unlike Egypt, I don’t think they’ve ever even come close. This year’s most acclaimed film is clearly sumptuous costume drama “Mysteries of Lisbon”, by Chilean director Raul Ruiz that has gotten surprisingly good reviews despite its four-and-a-half-hour running time. It’s the adaptation of a popular Portuguese novel about a young man raised in an orphanage searching for the identity of his parents, one of whom is a countess. Among its awards was a sweep at the 2011 Portuguese Golden Globes. Runner-up: 102-year old Manoel deOliveira’s latest film “The Strange Case of Angelica” is about a funereal photographer who takes mystical journeys with a young dead girl. It premiered at Cannes 2010, but took a year to be released in Portugal. It’s unlikely they’d choose anything other than these two films….Highly unlikely: “Civil War”, about a restless mother and son in 1982 Portugal.
80. PUERTO RICO has very little going on this year. If they enter the competition, it may be with “America”, about a woman who flees her beautiful Caribbean island because of an abusive husband, and seeks friendship and solace as a nanny among the Hispanic immigrant community in the Bronx.
81. ROMANIA, despite its much-publicized New Wave, is still trying for its first nomination. I personally thought “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days” was a good movie, but I thought “If I Want to Whistle” was boring and “Police, Adjective” was just plain awful. Romanian movies tend to circulate at Film Festivals for a year or more before they premiere in Romania. So, I don’t think “Loverboy” (Cannes 2011) will be eligible. Therefore, I’m predicting “Medal of Honor”, a drama about an old man who wins a medal for something he can’t remember doing. It premiered in 2009, winning the Thessaloniki FIPRESCI award and lost to “If I want to Whistle” at this year’s Romanian Oscars (the Gopos). Also nominated were “Morgen”, a comedy-drama about rural Romanians hiding a Muslim illegal immigrant, and three-hour documentary “Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu”. Also possible: eccentric romantic comedy “Hello, How Are You?” or “Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man”, a lengthy historical drama about Romania’s anti-Communist resistance. I predict “Medal of Honor”, followed by “Aurora” and “Morgen”. If “Loverboy” does premiere, the drama about young pimps will be a strong challenger to “Medal” for the nomination.
82. RUSSIA probably has the easiest choice of any of the major countries....It’s almost certain to be “Elena”, an engrossing dark, family drama that has won awards (including Cannes), gotten universally positive reviews in Russia and abroad, and is by a director that has already found favor with the Russian Academy- Andrei Zvyagintsev, who was selected in 2003 for “The Return”. I did not enjoy “The Return”. The film is scheduled to premiere in Russian cinemas two days before the deadline, a possible indication that the producers have their eye on an Oscar. I say it’s a pretty easy choice. It’s main competition is “Silent Souls” (FIPRESCI Prize at Venice 2010; Best Pic Nom at the Nika Awards), a spiritual drama with deep roots in Russian culture, about a man on a journey to cremate his wife. I’m pretty sure “Elena” will be the Russian nominee, but other possibilities include big-budget war drama “Brest Fortress” (also see BELARUS) and “A Stoker”, a grim drama about a Russian man living in exile in the frigid ethnic Yakut republic of Sakha during the 1990s. Alexander Sokurov’s German-language retelling of the story of “Faust” will premiere in Venice and might be included in the shortlist if it’s any good, and if it gets released in time, as might “Heart’s Boomerang”, about a young man who learns he’s dying, or “Inadequate People”, a well-reviewed quirky comedy (yes, Russian makes comedies! They selected one in 2008!) about a middle-aged man and a teenage girl. Some people have mentioned “The Hunter”, a two-hour film about pig farming that played at Cannes, but I don’t see it having any chance whatsoever.
83. SERBIA has quite a few well-received films this year, and I’m not at all sure which one they’ll pick. I think the frontrunners are three: “The Enemy”, an odd supernatural war drama about the devil himself, who may or may not be personally playing a role in newly peaceful Bosnia in 1995, “Montevideo, God Bless You!”, a warm, happy sports comedy about Yugoslavia’s team in the first World Cup, in 1930; and “Skinning”, a youth drama about a smart young teen who falls under the influence of a neo-Nazi group. Dark horses include two dramas coincidentally set in the same depressed mining town of Bor: “White White World”, a sort of Balkan musical starring a number of local characters, and “Tilva Ros”, which has appeared at more festivals than any Serbian film, but whose youthful nonprofessional cast look straight out of “jackass”, and “How I Was Stolen by the Germans”, a violent period black comedy. Unlikely: youthful omnibus film “October” looks great, and family drama “Together” sounds nice enough, but neither has made much of a blip internationally. Lazar Ristovski has starred in EIGHT Serbian submissions, but his latest, “White Lions” looks too silly to make a mark. My prediction: “Skinning”, followed by “Enemy”, “Montevideo” and “White White World”.
84. SINGAPORE submitted three films between 2005 and 2008 and two of those were by Eric Khoo, so it would seem like a safe bet to predict Khoo’s latest arty film, “Tatsumi”. Like Khoo’s previous two submissions, “Tatsumi” also played at Cannes. It’s a rather strange animated film about the life of famed Japanese comic book artists Tatsumi Yoshihiro, interspersing “clips” of his life with animated version of some of his most disturbing stories. The film is a strange one and it’s in Japanese so I’m not sure if the crew is Singaporean enough to qualify, but they’ll probably send it anyway. However, I’m hoping they send “It’s a Great, Great World”, a popular big-scale comedy set in five different decades, and directed by Kelvin Tong. “Where the Road Meets the Sun” , starring Ugly Betty’s Eric Mabius, appears to contain too much English to contend.
85. SLOVAKIA has been very proud of its filmmaking record this year, with a strong showing at Berlin, Karlovy Vary and possibly others later this year. Their obvious choice is “Gypsy” (Cigan), a drama about a Roma boy running afoul of the rules of his community, by director Martin Sulik. Independent Slovakia submitted his film, “Everything I Like”, in 1993 and they proceeded to send all five of Sulik’s fiction features until 2005. He has been making documentaries for the past six years, and “Gypsy” is his first fiction movie in 2011. Any other year, it would be a shoo-in, but this year it faces a lot of competition from “The House”, which won good reviews in Berlin, a bleak drama about a girl battling against the domineering father who is trying to build her a house to keep her in the community, and “Apricot Island”, about inter-ethnic romance in Southern Slovakia (Slovak + Hungarian). Slovakia also likes to choose documentaries, so it’s possible they could choose “Matchmaking Mayor” (by a Czech director) about a Slovak mayor trying to match up her single residents, or “Nick’s Family”, about Jewish children saved in World War II (also the subject of their 1999 submission). There’s too much competition to consider “Visible World” (Karlovy Vary) about a reclusive middle-aged man, “Cherry Boy”, about an actor recovering from a heart attack or “Love”, about a young couple planning a bank heist. All three top films are strong possibilities. I say they stick with Sulik and his “Gypsy” over his two younger rivals.
86. SLOVENIA made it ten years in a row in the Oscar race last year and although they’ve never gotten an Oscar nod, film production is up. It looks like they will have seven or eight eligible features this year, only half of which have been premiered outside of Film Markets….The favorite is clearly “Silent Sonata” (although I prefer the Slovene title, Circus Fantasticus), a drama with no dialogue about a circus touring amidst a family recovering from war. It beat out three of the other eligible films for Best Picture at last year’s Slovenian Film Festival, and that film usually reps Slovenia at the Oscars. In second place, is box-office smash “Going Our Way”, a summer camp comedy and the second-biggest box-office hit in Slovenia’s history and which beat “Sonata” for the Audience Award at the Festival. It’s looks formulaic and not very Oscary, but it also looks like a lot of fun. If “Sonata” is too abstract, and “Our Way” is too commercial, they’ll probably send “Good Night Missy”, a drama about a woman dithering between an unfaithful husband and an unfaithful ex. Other possibilities: Already premiered are father-son drama “Dad” and “Piran-Pirano”, about the history of a multi-ethnic border town. Yet to be released are: three friends on a road trip in “The Trip”, and two new films by twice-selected directors, abstract drama “Archo” and “Goodbye Lenin” remake (?) “State of Shock”
87. SOUTH AFRICA has a great record at the Oscars, as they’ve been shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film three times since 2004 (even considering they skipped two years)and received a Best Picture nomination for District 9. Their past five submissions have focused on South Africa’s African communities, including Sothos (Life Above All), Zulu (Yesterday), but there’s a dearth of films in indigenous African languages this year. They’ve made up for that with a revival of Afrikaans-language films from South Africa’s white communities. The chief contenders this year are a pair of acclaimed Afrikaans family dramas, namely the gay-themed “Skoonheid” (Beauty) which played at Cannes, and “Roepman”, which is told from the perspective of a 10-year old boy, as well as multi-ethnic, multi-lingual action-comedy “Paradise Stop” which reunites the director and stars of 2009’s delightfully fun “White Wedding”. In fourth place, political thriller “State of Violence” (in Zulu and English). Unlikely dark horses include “Liefling”, a popular teen musical in Afrikaans, “A Small Town Called Descent”, a political thriller and “My Hunter’s Heart”, an acclaimed documentary in San. “Roepman” has by far the best reviews. “Skoonheid” has the highest profile due to its spot in the Cannes line-up. “Paradise Stop” is the most accessible to South African audiences as a whole….but may contain too much English to qualify. My prediction: “Skoonheid”, but I’m not confident.
88. SPAIN traditionally releases a three-film shortlist, and they like to choose their favorite film, i.e. not necessarily the one that has the best chance of being nominated. This year, I predict the finalists will be: “Black Bread” (Winner of Best Picture at the 2011 Goya Awards), “Don’t Be Afraid” (directed by Oscar nominee Montxo Armendariz, “Secrets of the Heart”) and the 800-pound gorilla, “The Skin I Live In” (directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Antonio Banderas). Now, Almodovar has represented Spain five times, racking up one win, one nomination and one shortlist spot, but he was famously snubbed for “Talk to Her” (a dumb move by Spain), “Bad Education” (my favorite Almodovar, but a wise move by the Spanish Academy which selected Oscar winner “The Sea Inside” instead) and “Broken Embraces” (which didn’t even get shortlisted!), and everyone is wondering how creepy plastic surgery thriller “The Skin I Live In” will do. I think it will be shortlisted and will lose to “Black Bread”, a violent look at post Civil War Catalonia, and the first Catalan-language film to win the Goyas. But it will be really close….”Don’t Be Afraid” is the story a child abuse survivor, which I think will come third. Alternates for the Spanish shortlist: “No Peace for the Wicked” will premiere at San Sebastian and “The Waves”, the story of an aging man, won in Moscow has the best chance of breaking through, while bizarre killer clown drama “The Last Circus” and gentle dramedy “Cousinhood” could also come into play. Less likely: Basque family rival drama “The Stone”, and “Madrid 1987”. As for “La Voz Dormiga”, it’s not scheduled to premiere in time.
89. SRI LANKA has randomly sent two films in the past eight years. This year’s most likely submission is “Flying Fish”, a grim set against the background of theTamil conflict like their last film from 2009. In second place: “Sinhawalokana”, a musical about cricket, which is a more commercial film and one that looks an awful lot like India’s Oscar-nominated “Lagaan”. They likely won’t send a film, but they also have “Mahindagamanaya”, a colorful story about the arrival of Buddhism on the island, or “Karma”, an arty drama about a young man who has an affair with a cancer patient.
90. SWEDEN, as usual, has quite a few films to choose from this year. Interestingly enough, the egalitarian Swedes are now the only major European country never to choose a film directed by a woman (the Spaniards were the other until last year). I’ve narrowed down the field to a likely six: “Behind Blue Skies” is a comic drama starring Bill Skarsgard (of last year’s shortlisted “Simple Simon”), about a young man from a broken home who gets a job on a resort island; “Between Two Fires” is a critically acclaimed drama about romance in an asylum processing center, which may be handicapped by including two much English between the international cast to qualify, “Beyond” is a traditional Swedish family drama with a feminist slant, which got a Best Pic nom and a Best Director win at last year’s Swedish Oscars, “Happy End” is a yet-to-be-released “fairy tale for adults” about the intersecting lives of five people, “Play”, a controversial story about a group of bold, black immigrant children who take advantage of their richer ethnic Swedish classmates, and “Sound of Noise” is a bizarre anarchic musical. Two of these are directed by women (“Beyond” and “Between Two Fires”) as are three of the four dark horses, “Pure”, about a female high-school dropout, “She-Monkeys” (Berlin), a disturbing low-budget drama about teenage girls and “With Every Heartbeat”, about the strange, emotional relationship between two adult women who are about to become stepsisters. Rounding out the Top Ten films of the year is “Beyond the Border”, a wintry action-drama set during WWII on the Sweden-Norway border. Will this be the year of the woman? It might be for actress Pernilla August and “Beyond”, but unfortunately I’m ranking her third, with quirky “Sound of Noise” representing Sweden, “Happy End” in second, “Play” in fourth and “Behind Blue Skies” in fifth.
91. SWITZERLAND, as always, has some quirky films in the running. This year, all the contenders seem to be from the German-speaking regions, as opposed to the French ones that have gotten to represent Switzerland two years in a row. Sure to make their shortlist are a trio of well-reviewed films that are genuinely Swiss-majority productions: “Hell” (in German) is a sci-fi drama executive produced by Roland Emmerlich (“Independence Day”) about a family searching for water in an era when the sun in drying out; “Manipulation” (in German) is a Cold War conspiracy thriller starring Klaus Maria Brandauer (“Out of Africa”) set in 1956 about the investigation into a star reporter’s suicide; and “Sennentuntschi” (in Swiss German) is a fairy tale-horror film, about a villager who encounters a woman who may or may not be real. Rounding out the Top Five are two youth dramas, both in Swiss German: “Silver Forest”, a coming-of-age drama about a group of boys who are tempted by a far-right group, and “Fliegende Fische”, about a girl’s relationship with her mother. Possible for the shortlist, but less likely for the nomination: romantic comedy “Overbooked”, surreal comedy “The Sandman”, rural drama “Songs of Love and Hate”, cancer drama “Ward Pirates” and “Murder Behind the Curtain”, a mystery-comedy which was the final film by 91-year old Swiss grand dame Stephanie Glaser. My prediction: “Hell” tops “Manipulation”, although I’m rooting for a shock win for the creepy straw doll in “Sennentuntschi”. UPDATE (9/6/2011): "Hell" is not eligible as it will premiere two weeks after the deadline, so I'm changing my prediction to "Manipulation". Switzerland announced sixteen eligible films, and I feel as if "Colors in the Dark", starring Bruno Ganz and "Mangrove", about a Swiss woman returning to the scene of a childhood tragedy in Mexico, should also be considered leading contenders.
92. TAIWAN has a three-way race, and it’s not a particularly close one. The favorite is the much-anticipated “Seediq Bale”, an expensive (10 million US dollars!) look at a 1930 uprising by an aboriginal tribe against Japanese rule, by the director of their major hit, “Cape No. 7”. It will be released in two parts in September 2010. If it’s any good, it will definitely be the representative of Taiwan. If it’s not any good, they’ll probably choose one of their 2010 Golden Horse winners. Oddly enough, “When Love Comes” won Best Picture over “The Fourth Portrait”, whereas “Portrait” beat “Love” for Best Taiwanese Film. “When Love Comes” swept the awards overall and this family drama about a man with two wives will probably finish ahead of “Portrait”, about a ten-year old adjusting to a new family after the death of his father.
93. TAJIKISTAN has sent two films since gaining independence in 1991, both of which were very good. Tajikistan is the poorest republic to emerge from the former USSR, and I don’t think they have any feature films this year. “Waiting for the Sea”, by Bakhtiyar Khudojnazarov, should be their next release.
94. TANZANIA sent a Swahili-language film once in 2001. I’m fairly certain they won’t send anything, but they could send “Ray of Hope”, a drama about an HIV-positive woman fighting for her rights. It premiere at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and is directed by female Indian expat director Sajni Srivastava.
95. THAILAND hasn’t had too many quality films this year, which means that it’s highly likely they’ll send “King Naresuan III: Naval Battle” a 16th century epic with beautiful costumes, thrilling battle scenes and royal credentials from its director, Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol whose films have been selected four times. King Naresuan II was selected in 2007. They may also “King Naresuan 4”, which is scheduled to be released in August, but which I think will be postponed. There are few non-Naresuan films around this year that aren’t lightweight romantic dramas, comic ghost movies or lowbrow comedies. Among the other unlikely contenders would be “Laddaland”, a family-themed horror film, explicit gay-interest drama “Insects in the Backyard”, which hasn’t been able to pass the censors yet, muay thai documentary “Lumphini”, “Mindfulness and Murder”, a Buddhist murder mystery which would have a better chance if weren’t directed by a foreigner, action film “Red Eagle” by Wisit Sasanatieng (“Citizen Dog”) which has starpower but only middling reviews. I think “Naresuan III” is pretty much a lock. Runner-ups are “Naresuan IV” and “Headshot”, which both of which are unlikely to be released in time.
96. TUNISIA last sent a film in 2002. They’ve been pretty busy this year starting off the Arab Spring so they haven’t had much time to make movies…..I don’t know of any new fiction Tunisian features this year- “Les Palmieres Blesses” (a woman finds a job as a secretary) and “Fin Decembre” (a number of intersecting stories, including a man who returns from abroad to look for a wife) have repped Tunisia at Film Festivals this year but premiered too early. There’s a chance they may send “No More Fear” (Cannes), a documentary about the recent events of the Arab Spring.
97. TURKEY has never received an Oscar nomination, although they were shortlisted once for Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Three Monkeys”. I do not like Nuri Bilge Ceylan. “Three Monkeys” was adequate, “Distant” was awful, and I have little desire to see the longer (2 ½ hour), more abstract “Once Upon A Time in Anatolia”, about a group of men searching for the body of a murder victim. It won the Jury Prize at Cannes, but “Climates” won the FIPRESCI Prize and they didn’t choose that either. Even though it’s the clear favorite, I think “Once Upon A Time” will finish in second place in the Turkish race behind Turkish Cypriot director Dervis Zaim’s “Shadows and Faces”, about Greek-Turkish tensions in 1963 Cyprus. It won major awards at two of Turkey’s three major film festivals, including Best Picture in Ankara. The two strong dark horses are “Press”, a low-budget drama about the travails of Turkish journalists (which won major prizes at all three big Turkish festivals) and “Hunting Season” a solid murder mystery by renowned Yavuz Turgul, who has repped Turkey twice, but it’s not considered to be his best work. Less likely but possible: “Five Minarets in New York” is an expensive box-office hit action film that co-stars Western actors Danny Glover and Gina Gershon, about Turkish police searching for a smuggler in New York, and “Majority”, about a slacker living with his domineering father, which won Best Picture at the Golden Oranges. One of those should rep Turkey. “Hayde Bre” won Best Pic in Shanghai, “Hair” won Best Pic in Istanbul and “Our Grand Despair” competed in Berlin, but I just don’t think they’ll be competitive. I pick dark horse “Shadows and Faces” but that may be wishful thinking that Ceylan doesn’t get it.
98. UKRAINE has taken the past two years off, but they will likely return with depressing, angst-ridden road movie “My Joy”, about a truck driver and a young prostitute, the most prominent Ukrainian film on the FF circuit in years. The film premiered in the main competition of Cannes in 2010 more than a year ago, but it had its local bow in Ukraine within the Oscar deadline, later that year. It also won the Grand Prix (2nd place) at the Kyiv Film Festival. Nevertheless, it sounds so depressing!
99. UNITED KINGDOM submits intermittently due to a lack of foreign-language films, and for the third year in a row, I am fairly certain they’ll send “Patagonia”, a long-delayed film which finally had its confirmed domestic premiere in April. It’s a well-received road movie with some well-known stars (Matthew Rhys of Brothers and Sisters) in Welsh and Spanish about Welsh settlers in Argentina. Unlikely but possible: “Pusher”, a Hindi-language crime drama set in England, and based on the famous Danish film of the same time.
100. URUGUAY likes the choose the underdog, sometimes for good reasons (“Bad Day for Fishing” beat “Gigante”) and sometimes for bad (“La Vida Util” beat “Leo’s Room”). This tiny country has been active in filmmaking for the last few years, leading to four main contenders- “Beyond the Road”, by a Brazilian director, is about two strangers taking a road trip through Uruguay; “Norberto’s Deadline”, about a man who loses his job, and starts taking acting lessons, “Silent House” is a creepy, horror movie with mixed reviews shot in one take; and “The Wedding” is about a 60-year old trans man who is finally able to become a woman. “Porfirio” played at Cannes. Multi-national “Porfirio” sounds too Colombian, and “Southern Cross” probably won’t premiere in time. Statistics make it look like they’ll choose “Norberto” since it stars Daniel Hendler (co-star of three Oscar submissions- two Argentine, one Uruguayan) and is exactly the sort of droll deadpan comedy the Uruguayans choose year after year. Runner-up: underdog “Silent House”
101. VENEZUELA will likely be deciding between two films with the same theme- namely, the country’s tragic 1999 floods that killed roughly 20,000 people on the Caribbean coast. “The Kid Who Lies” is one of only a handful of Venezuelan films that have competed at a Class-A Festival (Berlin’s “Generation” sidebar), and bills itself as the first Venezuelan film to deal with the tragedy. The titular character tells a different fib every time he’s asked where the rest of his family is, as the audience slow. It was followed a few months later by “The Rumble of the Stones”, about a woman trying to raise her two sons in a Caracas slum ten years after losing her home and her daughter in the floods. The National Film Festival saw the two films compete against each other, with “Rumble” prevailing, winning Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and three other awards. The other big winner was not “The Kid” at all (which won a single award for “Best Sound”), but “Reveron”, a well-reviewed box-office failure which is a period autobiography of famed Venezuelan painter, Armando Reveron, which won Best Director, Best Actor, the Audience Award and four other awards. If they want to go for a more political film, they could choose “Days of Power” by 80-year old Roman Chalbaud, who directed Venezuela’s first-ever Oscar contender in 1978…but I doubt it. It will be close, but I predict “Rumble” over “The Kid” by a nose.
102. VIETNAM’s VCA, announced in 2008 and 2010 that they wouldn’t participate this year because they say that their films are either not subtitled, not released in commercial cinemas or not good. I hope they change their mind because some of their films look fantastic this year. Take a look at the gorgeous trailer for Long Thanh Cam Gia Ca (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQIiaQWvP4I), a 19th century period drama which won Best Picture at this year’s Silver Kite Awards (the Vietnamese Oscars) but which doesn’t have subtitles and hasn’t screened commercially. Also impressive is 10th century battle drama Thang Long Aspirations http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbUvAeUL54s which looks worthy of something to come out of China. “Floating Lives”, about a dysfunctional family in rural Vietnam has played internationally….So, it’s quite sad that the Vietnamese don’t see the value in joining this competition. I’ll predict the Best Picture winner, which loosely translated as “Songstress in the Citadel”.
Attention-seeking QATAR premiered its first-ever feature film “Clockwise” in October of last year, which (rather surprisingly) is a supernatural drama based on the pre-Islamic mythology of djinns. RWANDA has “Grey Matter” (Tribeca 2011) a surreal film about a Rwandan film student trying to make a film in Kigali after losing his source of funding….. SAMOA's first-ever feature film, “The Orator”, has been hailed by its government as an excellent way to promote tourism and show the Samoan way of life to the world. It’s scheduled to premiere this summer and could be sent just as neighboring Fiji’s first film was in 2005...SAUDI ARABIA has no cinemas to meet the screening requirement, but gender-clashing comedy “The Corporation” sounds like a lot of fun. SYRIA is engaged in a battle with its own people right now, so they’re unlikely to enter the Oscar race for the first time in the midst of it. However they’ve had several films on the circuit this year, and “September Rain”, a romantic drama about a widower with six sons. TIMOR-LESTE is in pre-production on its first-ever feature film, “A Guerra Da Beatriz “ but it won’t be released until next year. TOGO is the setting of “Bluebird”, a Belgian-funded and directed film about a group of Togolese children looking for a bluebird. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES is the most likely Gulf state to enter this competition some day, and they have hopes for the upcoming “Sea Shadow”, a coming-of-age drama about two teens from Ras-al-Khaimah, and the first film from the Abu Dhabi production company Imagenation, which could be the first Gulf submission in more than thirty years. UPDATE: The Samoan film will open in October and will be eligible next year, when I expect it will be the first-ever Samoan Oscar submission.