Thursday, July 26, 2012

Foreign Film Oscar Prediction 2012-2013, COTE D'IVOIRE to IRELAND


Computer problems have delayed this post, focusing on the second round of 26 countries, including last year's returning champion (Iran) and powerhouses France and Germany.

27. COTE D’IVOIRE
(last submitted 1976) won the Oscar in 1977 (before I was born) for “Black and White in Color”. That film- with a French director and overwhelming French cast and crew- would not even be accepted under today’s rules, and this year the Ivoiriens will be absent for the 36th year in a row. For the sake of completion, their highest-profile film that I know about is “Ultimatum”, billed as the country’s first-ever action flick. Next year, I hope they do finally return with “Run” by young Franco-Ivoirien director Philippe LaCote. It was selected as one of 15 projects to benefit from additional funding at this year’s Cannes Film Workshop.
28. CROATIA
premieres most of its domestic releases annually in July at the Pula Film Festival. Most of these films actually premiere in Croatian cinemas the following Oscar eligibility year (which begins October 1), which is why the two last films I predicted for Croatia weren’t actually eligible. I hate to pick the same film two years in a row, but I think the Croatians will send “Lea and Darija”, a true story about the friendship between two teenage girls (one Jewish, one an ethnic German) who rise to fame in the 1930s while World War II looms. It won some small awards at Pula last year and premiered in Croatian cinemas in January 2012. In second place is the oddly titled “Cannibal Vegetarian”, a very dark thriller which has also gotten good reviews. It’s about an abortionist faced with a VERY serious moral dilemma when one of his patients dies on the operating table. In third place is “Night Boats”, a drama about an elderly couple in their 70s running away from their bleak nursing home. Iceland achieved their only Oscar nod for the similar “Children of Nature”. All three of these films have an excellent chance of representing Croatia and all have premiered already. The Oscar will committee will love “Lea” and “Night Boats" though they may hate “Cannibal”. If the Croatians do choose of the new 2012 premieres from Pula, I think the most likely option would be “Halima’s Path”, about a Bosnian woman searching for her dead son who was killed in the war. They offer her DNA testing but she refuses, since her son was secretly adopted. My prediction (again): “Lea & Darija”.
29. CUBA
sends films about once every two years. This year, they don’t have much. Their two highest-profile films are a cult hit zombie-comedy (“Juan of the Dead”) and a film sure to upset Cuba’s Communist authorities (“Une Noche”, whose two young stars disappeared in Miami on the way to an event to promote the film, mirroring the film’s story of two young Cubans who escape to the U.S. by boat). Interestingly enough, “Juan” was in fact co-produced by the national film studio, showing that the Communists do have a sense of humor. Cuba’s other films this year are a strange lot, including a much-maligned abstract biography of Leonardo da Vinci (“Vinci”), a pair of gay-themed films by previously honored directors (flirty “Verde Verde” and the independently produced mystery “Chamaco”) and a film about a man teaching mentally handicapped children to swim (“The Pool”). A stronger choice would be “Fabula”, a romance set in the slums of Havana which won Third Prize at last year’s Havana Film Festival. However, the Cubans have lately tended to prefer to send children’s films, meaning that “And Yet It Moves” (“Y Sin Embargo”) is my prediction. It's about what happens when a schoolboy’s tall tale blossoms out of control. It stars a local Cuban youth acting troupe.
The
30. CZECH REPUBLIC
has been pretty quiet lately
. Though they used to be very successful, they haven’t been nominated in a decade. Bohdan Slama’s “Four Suns” should be considered the favorite. Slama represented the Czech Republic in 2002 and 2005 and the film has enjoyed touting the fact that it is the first-ever Czech film to compete at the Sundance independent film festival. The story revolves around a number of different characters in and around a dysfunctional family. Reviews have been positive but generally unenthusiastic. The big winner at this year’s “Czech Lions” was “Flower Buds”, a similarly-themed film about a diverse series of characters with moral dilemmas, and how their decisions affect those around them. “Long Live the Family”, a black comedy about a family on the run, didn’t do well at the Lions, but it did win Best Picture of 2011 from the Czech Film Critics Association.  Oscar nominee Jan Hrebejk (“Divided We Fall”) was represented the Czech Republic in 2000, 2004 and 2010. The prolific director makes roughly one film a year, and his latest “The Holy Quartet” (Svata Ctverice) is a romatic comedy which is scheduled to premiere in August. Out of the running: “Polski Film” was the only Czech film to compete in Karlovy Vary, but it’s comedic plot depends in large part on knowing Czech celebrities who are unknown outside the country. “A Night Too Young” got good reviews in Berlin, but it’s 61-minute running time will mark it as too slight. Vladimir Michalek’s “Messenger” (Closing film in Karlovy Vary) would be my top choice, but it’s not scheduled to open in Czech cinemas until October. I half-heartedly predict “Four Suns”, followed by “Flower Buds”, and “Svata Ctverice”.
31. DENMARK
produced fewer films this year (less than twenty) but they still have a very competitive race going, including films by one Oscar winner (Bille August, “Pelle the Conqueror”), two Oscar nominees (Henrik Ruben Ganz and Christian E. Christiansen, Short Film nominees in 1999 and 2007) plus Christoffer Boe (selected by Denmark in 2003). Denmark usually chooses a three-film shortlist to heighten the suspense, and this year I’m fairly certain they will be upcoming historical biography “The Passion of Marie” (Bille August), 18th century costume drama “A Royal Affair” (Berlin) and World War II thriller “This Life” (Karlovy Vary). Two other possibilities: I would be surprised if “A Hijacking”, about a Danish crew being kidnapped by Somali pirates, or “Teddy Bear”, a gentle dramedy about a bodybuilder looking for love in Thailand, made the cut, but they are dark horses.  Thomas Vinterberg’s acclaimed Cannes drama “The Hunt” won’t be eligible until next year. A look at the race: “A Royal Affair” should be considered the favorite. This story of an English princess who marries a crazy Danish price is supposed to be beautiful to look at, and suspenseful to behold. “This Life”, an exciting thriller about a town who join the anti-German resistance, has been a major hit at the box office but has gotten slightly less positive reviews. It will be difficult for Denmark to snub the Oscar-winning August, who is making his first Danish feature in a quarter-century, for “Passion of Marie”, about a famed couple of 19th century artists. I still predict: “A Royal Affair”, followed by “Passion of Marie”, “This Life”, with “Teddy Bear” in first. The new films by Ganz (dramedy “Excuse Me”), Boe (horror-thriller “Beast”) and Christiansen (tepid thriller  “ID:A”) probably won’t factor in.
The
32. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
rejoined the Oscar race for the first time since 1995 and they have had a great film year this year with a few well-reviewed possible films. I predict they will enter the race with “Ana’s Struggle”, the story of a poor flower seller whose beloved teenage son is killed by a drug dealer, and her struggle against a corrupt system to seek justice. They could just as easily send “The King of Najayo”, a gritty drama about a crime lord who continues to run a gangland empire from prison, while the upcoming “Lust”, about a teacher who moves to the countryside, has an outside chance as well.
33. ECUADOR
(last submitted 2004) has the second smallest film industry in South America (whither Paraguay) and they’ve only ever submitted two films, including Sebastian Cordero’s riveting thriller “Cronicas”, starring John Leguizamo. This year, I predict Ecuador will return to the race, as they have released two very well-regarded films. The first is the latest from Sebastian Cordero- “Pescador”- which spent seven months on the film festival circuit before finally opening at home in Ecuador. It’s a black comedy about a rural fisherman who teams up with a female con artist to earn money from cocaine that has mysteriously washed up on the beach. They could also choose the intriguing “In the Name of the Daughter”, about a dedicated Communist who insists on spreading her ideals to her entire family and her neighborhood….and who just happens to be a 9-year girl. Two critical hits in one year is great for Ecuador. I think they’ll send “Pescador”.
34. EGYPT’s
nominee is often difficult to predict, and I wonder if the Egyptian Academy (which often enjoys choosing challenging films featuring controversial subject matter) will be affected by the recent Islamic shift in the country (romance “A Whole One” was recently pulled from theatres to be re-censored). Although Egypt produces the most films in the Arab world, the number of quality films seems to have been overtaken by Morocco. In any case, Egypt has three front-runners this year (less than usual), all of which are connected in one way or another to the recent revolution. The front-runner is clearly “After the Battle”, which competed in Cannes and which is the complex story of a town outside of Cairo which includes those who fought for and against the recent revolution. “Asmaa”, a modestly budgeted drama about an Egyptian woman with HIV and her dilemma about going public with her disease to get a desperately needed operation, has gotten even better reviews as well as praise for tackling a taboo subject and for its brave lead performance. It was directed by a young revolutionary and blogger who was abused in Tahrir Square. The final (and lowest-profile) of the three main contenders is “Cry of an Ant”, a black comedy about a man who returns to Egypt after ten years jailed in Iraq to face problems in Egypt when he tries to join the revolution there. A darker horse is “18 Days”, a series of short films by a diverse group of directors (including the Yousry Nasrallah, director of “After the Battle”) about the Arab Spring in Cairo. It will be a difficult decision for the Egyptians and I hope they enter (they’ve sent films eight of the past ten years) the race and don’t choose a safer, blander choice (like family drama “Palm of the Moon”).  My prediction: the Cannes label will push “Battle” (just barely) to victory over “Asmaa”.
35. ESTONIA
is the smallest of the three Baltic Republics, and the only one to regularly participate in this competition (Estonia has sent seven of the past eight years; Latvia + Lithuania sent three each). This year they have a quartet of eligible films, and I’m not sure which one they’ll choose. Will it be “The Idiot”, a surreal artistic film based on a Dostoevsky novel and oft compared to “The Temptation of St. Tony”? Or “Mushrooming”, a political satire/comedy/horror film about politicians lost in the forest? The one with the best festival credentials is international co-production “Lonely Island” (competing in Moscow) about five intersecting stories, although reviews have been mixed.  “Demon”, a psychological drama about a trio of persons confronting a moral dilemma in a casino, is an unknown quantity since it won’t premiere until August. It’s a wide-open race….I really have no idea…..My prediction: “Mushrooming” is the surprise nominee, with favorite “Lonely Island” in second place.
36. ETHIOPIA
(last submitted 2010) has a small domestic film industry for local consumption, but they very rarely produce anything for the international market (exceptions: “Teza”, “The Athlete”). I can’t see them sending any of their vulgar comedies or amateurish action films to the competition. For the sake of completion, I’ll choose “Across the Atlantic”, a movie filmed in Washington, DC about Ethiopian immigrants and the problems they face in the U.S., but who knows if that would even qualify as an Ethiopian film?
37. FIJI
(last submitted 2005) submitted a film once when they made their first-ever feature film. Although Fiji is well-known as a filming location for Western and Bollywood films, I don’t know that they have any local films this year.


38. FINLAND 
has more films eligible than usual (about 30 features plus a few documentaries) but fewer contenders. No film has “broken out” and this year is a wide-open race. I predict the Finns will send “Naked Harbour”, a popular portmanteau film featuring a number of characters and nationalities living through a cold, Finnish winter. One Finnish Ambassador quipped that the dark film shows “everything about Finland he would not want outsiders to see”, but it has proved popular nonetheless. Finland often chooses these character-driven stories for the Oscars. Close behind will be historical drama “Silence”, a Best Film nominee at last year’s Jussi Awards that tells the story of a brigade of civilians tasked with bringing home Finland’s war dead home to be buried after WWII. Unlike most European countries, Finland rarely sends historical dramas to the competition (they send films set in the past, but that’s not the same thing). “The Road North”, a father-son road movie by Mika Kaurismaki (Aki’s brother), will premiere next month. I’ll place it third. Two years ago, Finland chose a documentary. Since none of the films here are universally praised, they may wish to do that again and choose “Forever Yours”, a well-reviewed doc about the lives of foster children which won Best Doc at the Jussis last year. Very dark horses include black comedy “The Storage” whose dark humor is probably too local to play overseas, “Once Upon A Time in the North”, a historical drama set in the 1860s about a Finnish outlaws known as “hajyt”, and “Stars Above” which got mostly tepid reviews despite its Oscary story of three women living in three different eras of the 20th century.  The biggest film of the year of course is Nazi sci-fi comedy “Iron Sky”, but I don’t think it will come into play here.
39. FRANCE is usually one of the more difficult countries to predict since they have so many options. This year, I see three frontrunners: if they want to choose a critical auteur favorite with big stars, they’ll choose “Rust and Bone”. Directed by Jacques Audiard (“The Prophet”) and starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenarts (the breakout star of “Bullhead”), “Rust and Bone” received critical acclaim at Cannes 2012 for its peculiar romance of an unemployed and emotionally stunted young man and a recently handicapped whale trainer. If they want to choose a popular audience favorite, they’ll clearly choose “Les Intouchables”, a box-office hit comedy in France and (to a lesser extent) the United States. It’s about another odd couple….this time a quadriplegic millionaire and the petty thief from the projects he hires to be his live-in caretaker. I’ve seen the film and it’s an audience-pleaser with a lot of heart, and one which has gotten universally positive reviews. Though it’s a comedy at its core, It deals with issues serious enough to make it a sentimental contender for Oscar. Their third option is “Polisse”, a crime drama about a journalist working on a story about detectives from the Paris Child Protection Unit, and who becomes a witness to the sad, real-life cases of child abuse in the nation’s capital. “Polisse” was rumored to be France’s first choice last year but it premiered too late. The two dark horses are: “Farewell My Queen” (Berlin 2012), a lavish costume drama and biopic of Marie Antoinette, and “Chicken with Plums”, a live-action drama based on a graphic novel from the creators of “Persepolis”, about the last days of a Persian man’s life. More than any other country, France seeks to get an Oscar nomination each and every year and they’re upset they haven’t made it the past two years (“Declaration of War” probably deserved a nod….the well-meaning ”Of Gods and Men” did not). “Rust” has the reviews, but “Les Intouchables” has the buzz. I think “Les Intouchables” will rep France with “Rust and Bone” in second, “Polisse” a close third, and “Farewell My Queen” a distant fourth. “Renoir” won’t premiere in time.

40. GEORGIA is bragging that their 105-minute “The Forgotten King” is the longest “single take” film in cinematic history. That’s quite impressive if it’s true since the trailer darts back and forth between modern-day times and the 15th century, and including car chases and shootouts. That selling point alone will probably get the film selected for the Oscars. Last year, I predicted “Salt White”, a drama about a series of characters working a seaside hotel but I think it’s actually eligible this year. It’s been representing Georgia at a number of film festivals and it should come in second this year. Beauty contest dramedy “Keep Smiling” actually sounds the most entertaining, but it probably has too much competition.

41. GERMANY- doesn’t have too many good options this year. The two top winners at the Lolas were “Stopped On Track” a grueling film about one man’s battle against a deadly form of cancer, and “Barbara”, about a female doctor in East Germany who is exiled by the authorities to a small town. The two other big contenders include “Lore” (Locarno, Toronto), about German kids (including Hitler Youth members) living through the aftermath of World War II, when their whole ideological education is in shambles. It’s scheduled to be released after the deadline but could get an early release. The other is “Three Quarter Moon”, a comedy about a grumpy middle-aged taxi driver and his emerging relationship with a Turkish-German woman and her daughter. I want to predict “Lore”, but its late release date and its Australian director and international crew means the Germans may not consider it...Then I would want to pick “Stopped on Track”, but that was shortlisted by Germany last year (though it doesn't appear to have opened until later), making it also seem unlikely...That's followed by “Barbara”, “Three Quarter Moon” and dysfunctional family drama “Home for the Weekend” (Berlin) rounding out the Top Five. In a weak year like this one, I suppose Germany could choose an unlikely dark horse like: “Combat Girls” (3rd Place at the Lolas), about a female neo-Nazi and “Cracks in the Shell”, a thriller about an aspiring actress. I'm really unsure on this one. Germany should announce its shortlist in late August. Let's say "Barbara", although I'm pretty sure the Germans will choose some new film that hasn't come out yet. I don't have confidence in anything that's come out so far.

42. GREECE
used to automatically choose the winner of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, but they got rid of that rule a few years ago. Last year, they “recommended” that the winner of Best Film at the Hellenic Film Awards be selected (it was). This means that the two obvious frontrunners are “City of Children” (winner of the two main awards in the Greek Film Section at Thessaloniki) and “Unfair World”, which won Best Picture, Best Director plus two Acting awards at the Hellenic Film Awards (“Children” won Screenplay and one of the other Acting awards). “City of Children” tells four disturbing stories centered on couples and childbirth while “Unfair World (which I skipped at the DC Film Festival), a black comedy about a corrupt cop nearing retirement which is often compared to a lame version of Kaurismaki. High-profile black comedy “Alps” by Yorgos Lanthimos, about a strange little company that earns money by impersonating the dead, should also have a shot at the award since Lanthimos gave Greece its first Oscar nod in three decades with the overrated “Dogtooth”.  There’s also “L” (Sundance), a tragicomedy about a man who’s reduced to living in his car, and one of the losing Best Picture nominees at the Hellenic Film Awards, family drama “Burning Heads”. Despite very poor reviews, I’m going to guess “Unfair World”, followed by “Alps” and “City of Children”.
43. GREENLAND
(last submitted 2010) sent a single film two years ago. With a population of only 57,000, this huge island is the smallest country (by population) ever to enter the Oscar competition. They now produce roughly one film per year. This year, they have a problem. Their biggest film, “Shadow in the Mountains”, a horror film based on local mythology, appears to have been released two months before the release date, making it ineligible. The film I predicted last year, “Inuk” was released in Greenland in 2012, shot in Greenland in the Greenlandic and Danish languages….but it has an American director and a mostly French crew which means it may suffer the same fate as “Maria, Full of Grace” and “Forgiveness of Blood”. For the record, “Inuk” is about a teen who journeys thousands of miles from Greenland’s south to north.
44. GUATEMALA
(last submitted 1994) hasn’t sent a film to the Oscars in 18 years. I think they have two eligible films that I know of are “Capsules”, a low-budget family melodrama about a 12-year old whose mother is dating a drug dealer and whose father returns from years out of the picture. It’s notable for being the first Guatemalan feature directed by a woman. Then there’s “Holy Cow!”, about two women who meet at a funeral and learn they have inherited a cow from their mutual lover. They won’t enter, but I think “Capsulas” has a better chance (although I’d rather see the comedy “Cow”).

45. HONG KONG
’s choice would be easy if the year ended today. It would almost certainly be “Life Without Principle” (Venice), a slow-burn crime thriller directed by Johnnie To who has been nominated to represent Hong Kong three times or, less likely, “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” (Berlin), an expensive martial arts drama directed by Tsui Hark, starring Jet Li, and set in the Ming Dynasty. Both got nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards but both lost to “A Simple Life”, last year’s HK nominee, which probably came very, very close to reaching the 9-film Oscar shortlist. That said, neither film has gotten great reviews and both will probably be swept aside by one of a number of upcoming much-anticipated new releases. But which one? I’m predicting “Silent War”, a spy thriller starring Tony Leung as a blind spy and directed by the team that brought us “Infernal Affairs”. It premieres in August. Other possibilities that could be chosen if they’re good include the 60-million dollar fantasy movie “The Monkey King” (July), gangster drama “Drug War” (also by Johnnie To; TBD), and all-star police-crime thriller “Cold War” (Aaron Kwok + Tony Leung; TBD).  In the background are “The Grandmasters” by Wong kar-wai, experimenting with the action genre, “The Guillotines” by Andy Lau and, less likely Jackie Chan’s “Chinese Zodiac” . None are scheduled to premiere until December, but Hong Kong has done limited “early releases” three of the past four years to make the Oscar deadline. I pretty confident about “Silent War”.
46. HUNGARY
’s film industry has been going through a crisis lately. Last year’s Hungarian Film Week (their main film festival/national awards) was delayed….This year it was canceled, and then held with virtually a zero budget due to the lack of any state support. Despite all these problems, three Hungarian films have been wowing festival audiences this year (although Istvan Szabo’s English-language “The Door”, starring Helen Mirren, is not eligible for the Foreign Oscar). Hungary’s choice will be between “The Exam” and “Just the Wind”. “Just the Wind” won the Silver Bear and two other smaller awards in Berlin, and tells the story  of a series of murders directed against Hungary’s disenfranchised Roma Gypsy minority (a bit like last year’s submission from next-door Slovakia). “The Exam” is a thriller about a few hours in the lives of two lovers on Christmas Eve in 1957, and the effect of the paranoiac Communist environment on their lives. Hungary can be unpredictable, but I think “The Exam” is a far more likely choice. “Dear Betrayed Friends”, which will premiere shortly in Sarajevo, is a possible dark horse. Like Oscar winner “The Lives of Others”, it looks at the subject of Communist informers, and what happens when a man discovers his best friend of many years reported on him to the Communist authorities for decades. “Istanbul” and “Maiden Danced to Death” may have a few supporters, but they’re out of their league this year.

47. ICELAND
has six eligible films by my count, including three new movies that will premiere this summer. The two front-runners are “Black’s Game”, a slick, gangster drama about the Reykjavik underworld in 1999, and “The Deep”, about the sole survivor of a shipwreck trying to survive on an isolated lava field. Western critics have said “Game” is derivative of dozens of other genre flicks, while “The Deep” seems to be going for something more original than an Icelandic version of “Castaway”. “The Deep” is also directed by Baltasar Kormakur (selected by Iceland in 2001, 2007 and 2008) and is my pick for the award. Dark horses include black comedy “Rock Bottom” and horror-thriller “Frost”, whose trailer reminds me of an Icelandic “Blair Witch Project”. Either one could be really good and get the Icelandic nod.

48. INDIA- TBD

49. INDONESIA’s
film industry is maturing nicely and they have three good films that would represent the country well at the Oscars this year. My prediction is “Soegija”, an expensive period drama set in the 1940s about a Catholic bishop who protested against the Dutch and Japanese occupations.  Director Garin Nugroho is one of Indonesia’s most acclaimed, it’s been fifteen years since he represented Indonesia at the Oscars. “Soegija” has caused a controversy among Islamists who claim it is an attempt to convert Indonesia to Christianity (some people don’t have enough to do in their lives). Almost equally likely is “Postcards from the Zoo”, a rare Indonesian film that competed at a major international festival (Berlin 2012), about an orphan girl raised among zoo animals and street performers at a local zoo; and “Sang Penari” (The Dancer), a critically acclaimed period romance that won Best Picture at the Indonesian Film Festival in 2011, but strongly features Indonesian culture. Dark horses include “Dilemma”, a multi-strand drama that won the most nominations at this year’s Indonesian Move Awards, and “Lovely Man”, the story of a transsexual reunited with his deeply religious daughter, which is acclaimed  largely for its lead performance. Soccer youth dramedy “Garuda di Dadaku 2” won Favorite Film at the Indonesian Movie Awards and action-thriller “The Raid” got a U.S. release, but I don’t think these popular films will be considered.

50. IRAN
is returning champion for the first time ever. Richly deserved. I’m so happy that the Iranian Academy sent “A Separation”, which was no means a certainty at this time last year (“A Separation” lost Best Picture at the National Fajr Film Festival, although it was nominated). Despite Iran’s historic win, Iranian national cinema has been pretty quiet this year, if you exclude films films like Abbas Kiarostami’s  Japanese-language “Like Someone in Love” or films like “Circumstance” made my Iranian exiles. Clearly, these films will not be considered by the authorities in Teheran. Iran often makes strange choices (2003, 2010), although they tend to send quiet family dramas. This year, I predict they send “The Bear”, the winner in Shanghai, one of the few Iranian films to appear on the international festival circuit. It’s about an Iranian man released after ten years as a POW to find that his wife and family has moved on with their lives. If they want to reward “A Separation” they could choose “Snow on the Pines”, the directorial debut of star Peyman Moadi, and which also features a troubled marriage. Neither of these films did very well at Fajr (“The Bear” won Best Actor, “Snow on the Pines” got a single minor nomination) but that shouldn’t hurt their chances. In third place: “Bulletproof” , co-winner of Best Picture at Fajr, featuring a 50-year old man who learns he has two months to live. Rounding out the Top Five: “A Simple Love Story”, about a girl who wishes to put off her long-planned betrothal to a family friend and “Kissing the Face of the Moon”, about two women who have waited two decades for the arrival of news. On paper, “Days of Our Life”, the big winner at Fajr and medieval period drama “Road to Paradise” look good, but “Days” is the sort of patriotic war drama that the Iranians rarely export overseas, and “Paradise” looks pretty but is not the sort of intimate film the Iranians tend to choose.  Even darker horses: “Salute to Angels”, about a little girl trying to help her ill grandmother and “The Last Step”, about a man who returns to his hometown to attend a funeral.

51. IRAQ
(last submitted 2010)’s film industry is centered on its northern Kurdish region, and three of its four submissions were wholly (2005, 2007) or partially (2010) in the Kurdish language, spoken by 20% of the population. As such, the two front-runners to represent Iraq this year are both Kurdish films (both directed by exiles based in Scandinavia) and a lot will depend on whether they are screened in Iraqi cinemas or just on the international circuit. The front-runner is Swedish co-production “Bekas”, a drama about two poor boys who believe that Superman will swoop down and save them by helping them to emigrate to the West. Director Karzan Kader won a student Academy Award for his short film of the same name. The challenger is “Red Heart”, a Norwegian co-production, about a young Kurdish couple on the run from the girl’s impending arranged marriage. “Red Heart” has played internationally, while “Bekas” has yet to premiere. Dark horse: Mohamad al-Daradji, who repped Iraq in 2006 and 2010, has a new documentary- “In My Mother’s Arms”- about a Baghdad orphanage.

52. IRELAND
sent a film last year that was made by an Irish director in Macedonia, about war crimes against women in Bosnia. It won Best Picture at the 2011 Irish Film Awards against more traditional Irish fare. This year, I don’t think they have any Irish-language fiction films. They’re unlikely to send anything but if they decide they want to be creative, I predict they’ll send Romanian-language feature-length documentary “Off the Beaten Track”, directed by Ireland-based, Romanian-born documentarian Dieter Auner. It’s a gentle documentary about shepherds in Transylvania.

POSSIBLE DEBUTS?:
CYPRUS is one of only two EU Member States (along with MALTA) who don't participate in the Oscar race. This year’s “Fish n’ Chips”, a comedy-drama about a Cypriot in London who moves back to his home country, would be an excellent first submission to get the country on the world cinematic map. It got a Best Picture nod at the Greek Academy Awards. HAITI could send “Stories in the Sun”, about the Haitian immigrant experience to the United States. It won an award in Sundance for its Haitian-American filmmaker.   

Next up: ISRAEL to the PHILIPPINES

4 comments:

Spartak said...

Croatia - What about "Josef" (haven't seen it yet,but have heard some good things)?

Czech Republic - After last years very strange (both in cinematic and logicaly/competition choice),I wait that Czech will be back on rational path...Anyway,this year Israel's Cinematecs are holding again Czech films screeing and some of the mentioned above ("Flower Buds" and "Long Live the Family" will be screened there,but not "Four Sons") so I'll be much wiser in a month after watching those...

Denmark - And what about Susanne Bier's new film?

Egypt - I highly doubt that they'll go with “Asmaa” as last year they snubbed "678" (I haven't seen "Lust",but "678" was quite good)...Also there's "Winter of Discontent",but I don't know if it opens in time,because it's premiere should be at Venice (Orrizonti programm)...

Estonia - Lonely Island seems to be Belarusian film.

Finland - If they choose a documentary it can be also "The Punk Syndrome"...

France - I didn't like too much "The Declaration of War",while "Of Gods and Men" was one of my favourites (and was truly shocked,when it did get a nom)...Never mind...About “Les Intouchables”,I don't know about US box-office,but in Israel it seems to be a real hit (though I haven't seen it year,every time I plan to see it something gets in my way),it runs for 19 weeks (and believe me for Israel it's a lot,at least with this amoung of screenings)...

Greece - Sorry,but Alps seems to me a clear choise (withough watching even a single shot).

Hong-Kong - I'm even not sure if it's Chinese or Hong-Kong's film...But there's a sequel to "Painted Skin" that they submitte 4 years ago...

Iceland - What about "City State" (though IMDB mentions that it has English the question is how much),which was nominated for Edda this year (it lost to Volcano)?

Indonesia - I have watched “Postcards from the Zoo” and it's totally different from what you have written...It's about a woman,who lives in a zoo since she was a little girl,though this perioed is not really shown and the plot mostly about her romance with a magican...A film is a bit surrealistic,totally not an Oscar type (but who knows with the special comitte everything is possible) and I liked it...


Iran - Again another film from Venice (a question about release) "The Paternal House" in Orrizonti.
-------------------
Waiting to see what are you going to wright about Israel just to make you life harder/to help (depends on how do you look on it :),I'm just telling you that Sharqiya (Jerusalem Film Festival winner) is not in the competition...

ivan coss y leon said...

Hello, again! Sorry, I delete my previous post for change phrases.

I read your blog since 2007 and I like your predictions even if we agree with some preferences. But anyway.

Denmark - Even if I think Bier's new film will be in the mix, I think the danish will play safe. "A Royal Affair" received a lot of praise in UK and is going to be released in the USA this year.

France - I think Olivier Assayas' new film "Something in the Air" could be the wild card after Venice. The official release in France is in November, but with the recent Assayas' love in USA and the good reference in Venice, there's a possibility for an special premiere in September

Even with that, there's a possibility for a french upset and ended choosing "Love" as Germany made in 2009 with "The White Ribbon". Two of the producers are french and part of the crew are french and right now is in theaters in France...

For Germany, what film do you think will be the choosen? For the reviews and theme, it's possible for "Barbara", but Petzold is not exactly "beloved" by the film circle in Germany.

dzong2 said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Okay...DENMARK....When I wrote this blog entry, I had believed that Susanne Bier's new film "Love Is All You Need" was mostly in English because it co-starred Pierce Brosnan. Now it seems to be mostly in Danish, so it will very possibly knock "This Life" off the shortlist....but I still think it the romantic comedy will fail to make the cut.

CROATIA- I don't know....I though "Josef" was released last year, but it's hard to find information on Croatia.

ESTONIA- "Lonely Island" is most certainly an Estonian film, directed and written by Estonians Peeter Simm and Mihkel Ulman.

FRANCE- "Les Intouchables" was a big hit here, by the standards of a foreign film! I believe they are campaigning for Best Picture and Best Actor nominations (Omar Sy), but it should probably stick with Foreign Film. I agree that France won't ever choose a film that isn't wholly FRENCH....They like to brag that their co-productions have nominations too. They'd love for a French film AND "Amour" starring French people to be nominated.

GERMANY- Sorry! Haven't thought about them yet....They are one of seven countries I haven't done yet....Argentina, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

HONG KONG- "Painted Skin" was considered a rather embarrassing submission. It's just an average fantasy film, and I think it was picked just to promote the film. The sequel won't have a chance.

ICELAND- You think "City State" can beat Kormakur? Seems unlikely.

ISRAEL- Why isn't "Sharqiya" eligible? Why not?

ivan coss y leon said...

http://dzong2.blogspot.mx/2012/07/foreign-film-oscar-prediction-2012-2013.html

The German shortlist.