Here’s everything in the running in the Best Foreign Language Film category, with descriptions and links to trailers
This is the list of films submitted to the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film race, and deemed eligible by the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee.
Screenings at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills begin in early October and run through early January. Members of a general committee, drawn from volunteers in all branches of the Academy, will rank each film on a scale of six to 10. The six top-ranked films will make a shortlist, joined by an additional three films added by a special executive committee.
A pair of phase-two committees will then view the nine shortlisted films over the course of three days, and will choose the five nominees.
“Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)”
Director: Barmak Akram
A winner of the world cinema screenwriting prize at Sundance, writer-director Akram’s film chronicles a young Afghan woman who becomes pregnant after secret liasons with a man who claims he had nothing to do with her condition, once it is revealed. This “love story” deals far more with grief, shame and disgrace than with affection or romance.
Director: Robert Budina
Budina’s family drama follows two Albanian brothers who settle in northern Greece and follow very different paths as they attempt to assimilate into the new culture — one doing so lawfully, the other drawn to the mob and to the money that can be made in human trafficking.
“The German Doctor” (“Wakolda”)
Director: Lucia Puenzo
A recent winner for “The Secret in Their Eyes,” Argentina is going a route often taken by European countries in submitting a film that deals with some element of World War II and the Holocaust. “Wakolda” tells a fictionalized story of Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele, and the Argentinian family that housed him without knowing his true identity after he fled to that country. The Samuel Goldwyn Company has U.S. distribution rights.
Director: Kim Mordaunt
Set in Laos and shot in the Lao language, follows a young boy as he leads his family and friends on a quest to find a new home. It won prizes at the Berlin, Tribeca, Sydney and Melbourne film festivals and was picked up for U.S. distribution by Kino Lorber.
Director: Julian Polsler
A year after winning the Oscar for Michael Haneke‘s “Amour,” Austria has gone in a very different direction with a sci-fi-tinged film based on the Marlen Haushofer novel about a woman suddenly cut off from the world by an invisible wall. (Shades of CBS’s “The Dome?”) Martina Gedeck, who starred in the Oscar-winning “The Lives of Others,” has won raves for her lead performance.
Director: Shamil Aliyev
One of the two finalists from Azerbaijan that competed to be the country’s Oscar selection, “Steppe Man” follows a young man who is forced to reconsider his life in the country after the death of his father, and after the arrival of a girl who grew up in a larger village.
Director: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
The story of the Islamic leader of a small village who bans television but finds he cannot hold back change, “Television” has played a number of international film festivals and won favorable reviews for its light, satiric and upbeat tone.
Trailer/featurette (no subtitles)
“The Broken Circle Breakdown”
Director: Felix van Groeningen
One of the best-known of the foreign submissions, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” was picked up by Tribeca Films for U.S. distribution after winning the best actress and screenplay awards at Tribeca. A relationship drama set in the world of bluegrass music, it has spawned a chart-topping soundtrack album in Europe.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
“An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”
Director: Danis Tanovic
Tanovic’s film is based on the true story of a scrap-metal worker in the Roma (Gypsy) community whose wife was refused admission to a hospital after suffering a miscarriage. Tanovic used the real-life couple to play themselves in his drama about the discrimination faced by his country’s Roma minority, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival for his film.
Director: Kleber Mendonca Filho
“Neighboring Sounds” was named one of the top 10 films of 2012 by New York Times critic A.O. Scott, who called it “a subtle portrait of a society in the throes of rapid social transformation.” The film follows daily life in a seaside Brazilian neighborhood, where the arrival of a private security company increases class tensions; the film weaves many different narratives together, and according to most reviewers does so brilliantly.
“The Color of the Chameleon”
Director: Emil Hristov
A dark comedy about domestic spying? Hristov’s film might strike a few chords on these shores, but it deals with a former stage agent from the Communist era whose freelance efforts at espionage and subversion reportedly go to ridiculous lengths.
“The Missing Picture”
Director: Rithy Panh
An artful, experimental and devastating look at life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, “The Missing Picture” is an autobiographical documentary that tells the story of Rithy Panh’s family using clay figures, along with some vintage film, to recreate the murders and atrocities. The film won the top prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, and has won widespread acclaim on the festival circuit.
Director: Louise Archambault
Canada is one of the most successful countries in the foreign-language race over the last decade, with one winner, five nominees and two shortlisted films in the last 10 years; it has also had a nominee for the last three consecutive years, with two of those — 2010’s “Incendies” and 2011’s “Monsieur Lazhar” — coming from the micro_scope production company, which also produced this drama about a developmentally challenged woman’s quest for love and independence. The film recently had its North American premiere in Toronto.
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
One of the best known of this year’s African entries, “GrisGris” played in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The story of a young man who has to abandon his dream of becoming a dancer (perhaps a foolish dream, since he has a paralyzed leg) to support his ailing uncle, its director won the Vulcain Prize “for an artist technician”) at Cannes.
Director: Sebastian Lelio
The title character is a vibrant divorcee in her mid-50s trying to find a space in a society that barely notices her, and Chilean actress and theater director Paulina Garcia gives a bold and nuanced performance that won her the best-actress award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. A nominee last year for “No,” Chile could pop up again in the race with this subtly gripping drama, which Roadside Attractions plans to release in the U.S.
“Back to 1942”
Director: Feng Xiaogang
As the date in its title suggests, “Back to 1942” deals with events during World War II, though it is set in the conflict between China and Japan (the “Sino-Japanese War”) rather than the WWII arenas so often the subject of other foreign-language submissions. A large-scale, epic undertaking, the film was named Best Film of Mainland and Taiwan at the Hong Kong Film Awards, though reviews outside China have been mixed.
“La Playa DC”
Director: Juan Andres Arango
An entry in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes in 2012, “La Playa DC” follows a teenager (and barber’s apprentice) trying to make his way in the ghettos of Bogota, and searching for his little brother, who’s become a drug addict and sometime dealer. It’s a low-key character study of an impassive young man on a dead-end path, and has won praise for its subtlety and sense of authenticity.
Director: Arsen Anton Ostojic
Based on a true story, Ostojic’s film tells of a Bosnian Muslim woman who raised a son for her unmarried niece, and who must convince her niece to give a DNA sample so that she can recover the bones of the boy, who was killed in the war of the early 1990s. It was released in Bosnia and Croatia last fall, and has been doing well on the festival circuit for the past year.
“The Don Juans”
Director: Jiri Menzel
When the country’s initial submission, Agnieszka Holland’s “Burning Bush,” was disqualified because it was made for HBO Europe, the Czech Republic turned to one of its most iconic directors, Jiri Menzel. (His first film, “Closely Watched Trains,” won the foreign-language Oscar in 1968.) The 75-year-old film and theater director has set this comedy in the world of opera, with a small-town production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” providing the setting and the opera director serving as a surrogate for Menzel himself.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
One of the few entries to have already received a U.S. release, Vinterberg’s dark drama stars Mads Mikkelson, who was named best actor at 2012’s Cannes for his portrayal of a small-town schoolteacher who is accused of molesting a schoolgirl, and who must deal with a town that rushes to believe the worst about a man they’d always trusted. The film, an award winner at several festivals, was chosen from a three-film shortlist that also included the unconventional documentary “The Act of Killing.”
“Who’s the Boss?” (“Quien Manda?”)
Director: Ronni Castillo
The feature directorial debut of Castillo deals with a man and woman, both of whom have a history of ending relationships quickly and staying in charge. When they get together, their resolve is tested and the power struggles begin.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Javier Andrade
Drugs, illicit love and punk music are the favorite pastimes of the central characters in “Porcelain Horse,” which takes its title from the family heirloom that the film’s protagonist tries to steal and sell for drug money. It won the jury award for best narrative feature at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Austin, TX.
“Winter of Discontent”
Director: Ibrahim El Batout
The Egyptian entry is a politically-charged work, not surprising from a country in turmoil. The film uses the stories of three different individuals – a security officer, a TV journalist and an engineer – to details attempts on the part of the Hosni Mubarak regime to quell the 2011 revolution; it includes depictions of state-sponsored torture in the wake of the Tahrir Square uprising.
Director: Veiko Ounpuu
The second film from Ounpuu to be an Oscar foreign-language contender (2010’s “The Temptation of St. Tony” was submitted but not nominated), “Free Range” tells the story of a young newspaper journalist who loses his job as he discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant.
Trailer (no subtitles, but it’s set to an English-language song)
Director: Ulrika Bengts
A coming-of-age drama set on the eve of World War II, “The Disciple” deals with a teenage boy who goes to work for a lighthouse keeper on an island in the Baltic Sea and whose friendship with the lighthouse keeper’s son gradually turns to rivalry.
Director: Gilles Bourdos
A Cannes entry in 2012, Bourdos’ film is set in 1915 and deals with the painter Renoir, his on Jean Renoir (who would become a significant filmmaker) and a woman who enters both their lives. It grossed $2.2 million during its U.S. release earlier this year.
Directors: Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross
A look through this year’s foreign-language submissions is something of a tour of the effect of war on a variety of different countries, and Georgia is no exception. Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria shared the best-actress award at the Sarajevo Film Festival for their portrayals of teenage girls coming of age during the country’s post-Soviet civil war.
Director: Georg Maas
Based on a true story about the reverberations from the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, “Two Lives” stars Juliane Kohler as a German woman living in Norway, who after the fall of the Berlin Wall is threatened by the false identity under which she’s been living. Norwegian cinema icon Liv Ullman also appears in the film.
“Boy Eating the Bird’s Food”
Director: Ektoras Lygizos
Greece scored a shocking but provocative nomination with its aggressively weird “Dogtooth” in 2010 and since then has submitted other purposefully surreal films to the Oscars without success. “Boy Eating the Bird’s Food” is reportedly less weird, but also a stark and challenging work of social realism that uses three days in the life of a starving young man to stand in for the ravaged state of contemporary Greece.
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Based on the life story of the martial arts legend Ip Man, Wong Kar-wai’s film attracted backing from Megan Ellison and a U.S. release from the Weinstein Company. It is the highest-profile entry in the category and has already screened at the Academy during a tribute to its veteran director. The version seen by Stateside audiences is 20 minutes shorter than the original Chinese version.
Director: Janosz Szasz
A coming-of-age story set in World War II, Szasz’s film was a prize-winner at this summer’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Based on the 1986 bestseller by Agota Kristof, it follows two teenage brothers sent to live with their grandmother during the war.
“Of Horses and Men”
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Actor and theater director Erlingsson makes his film-directing debut with this rural romance (with comedic touches) set amidst a community of horse breeders, and culminating in the annual autumn round-up of horses. The film explores “the human streak in the horse and the horse in the human,” according to the Icelandic Film and TV Academy, which made the selection.
“The Good Road”
Director: Gyan Correa
The first film in the Gujarati language to represent India in the Oscar race, “The Good Road” tells the stories of a truck driver, a middle-class couple and an 11-year-old girl whose paths cross on a highway in rural Gujarat. The Indian selection committee praised it for showing “the unknown India,” but it drew criticism from some who felt that Ritesh Batra’s acclaimed and audience-friendly “The Lunchbox” would be far more to the Academy’s liking.
Director: Rako Prijanto
While the documentary “The Act of Killing” presents a devastating picture of Indonesia’s past, the country’s official entry revisits and reportedly celebrates the struggle for independence on the part of Hasyim Asyari, whose Nahdatul Ulama movement was implicated, almost two decades after his death, in the mass killings that “The Act of Killing” documents. The country’s vice president has seen the film and encouraged all young people to watch it.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Asghar Farhadi
The Iranian-born director Farhadi was living in France when he made this film, a Paris-set, French-language drama about a married couple whose long-buried secrets surface when they reunite to sign divorce papers. Berenice Bejo won the best-actress jury prize at Cannes, and Sony Pictures Classics acquired U.S. rights to the film.
Director: Yuval Adler
The story of an Israeli secret service agent and the teenage Palestinian informant he’s been cultivating since the age of 15, “Bethlehem” won six Ophir Awards at Israel’s version of the Oscars. The thriller has won rave reviews, and Israel is hoping to win its fifth nomination in the last seven years, a feat unequalled by any other country over that time.
Subtitled film clip
“The Great Beauty”
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Compared to Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and Rossellini’s “Rome, Open City” in the way it paints a portrait of a glamorous city at a specific time in history, Sorrentino’s drama views current-day Rome through the eyes of a journalist whose early work has made him famous and afforded him a glamorous lifestyle but little real satisfaction. Toni Servillo plays the journalist in an opulent, visually stunning film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“The Great Passage”
Director: Ishii Yuya
Rather than picking the festival favorite “Like Father, Like Son,” which DreamWorks currently has in its sights for a U.S. remake, the Japanese selection board went with a softer, friendlier, more romantic film, the story of a dictionary editor in love.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Shal” (“The Old Man”)
Director: Ermek Tursunov
A variation on Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” Tursunov’s film is set on the Kazakh steppes and deals with the primal confrontation between an aging hunter (played by a non-professional) and a wolf. The director’s 2009 film “Kelin” made the Oscar shortlist but wasn’t nominated.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Mother I Love You”
Director: Janis Nords
A jury winner at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, Nords’ film follows a 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother but falls into a life of petty crime with his friends on the streets.
Director: Lara Saba
After the disqualification of the initial Lebanese entry, “Ghadi,” the country was given another chance to submit, and chose the narrative feature debut of Saba, who interweaves three stories to paint a sobering picture of a Beirut through characters facing drugs, prostitution and child molestation. Saba said her goal was to dissect “a city that rubs us, steps on us and tears us apart.”
“Conversations on Serious Topics”
Director: Giedre Beinoriute
One of the most unconventional films in the race, “Conversations on Serious Topics” appears to deliver exactly what its title promises: conversations, mostly with children and young adults, about serious topics. Devoid of “exterior action, props, landscapes or special effects,” according to its production company, the experimental, minimalist documentary runs only 65 minutes, which will likely make it the shortest contender in the category.
Director: Christophe Wagner
The first thriller ever directed in the Luxembourgish language, “Blind Spot” is a film noir murder mystery set in the world of drugs and prostitution, areas Wagner had previously explored in documentaries. The director says he thinks of this film as a political statement, but that he wanted to “manipulate [the audience] for their own good.”
Trailer (French and English subtitles)
Director: Amat Escalante
Yet another teenager-on-the-mean-streets drama in a field seemingly crowded with them, Escalante’s film fascinated some and repelled others at Cannes with its unflinching and blood-soaked look at a culture of drug-fueled violence. The jury gave Escalante its best-director award for a film that has been almost universally described as serious, unpleasant and uncomfortable to watch.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“All God’s Children”
Director: Adrian Popovici
Information is scant about the first-ever submission from Moldava, whose stars include one recognizable North American actor, Michael Ironside (“Top Gun,” “Total Recall”). Judging by the non-subtitled trailer, the film finds an American couple trying to adopt a child pulled into a world of violence, prostitition and human trafficking.
Trailer (no English subtitles)
“Ace of Spades — Bad Destiny”
Director: Draska Djurovic
Like Serbia’s entry, Montenegro’s submission looks back to the Balkan civil wars of the 1990s. The drama focuses on a former member of a paramilitary group who is trying to escape to Italy while being pursued by his former comrades; American actor Michael Madsen co-stars in the film.
“Horses of God”
Director: Nabil Ayouch
This coming-of-age story set inside an enormous Moroccan slum paints a picture of the slum as a breeding ground for crime and, eventually, terrorism. Young Abdelhakim Rachid has won raves for his performance as a pre-teen whose life is heading inexorably toward violence.
Trailer (no English subtitles)
“Soongava: Dance of the Orchids”
Director: Subama Thapa
For its first-ever entry, Nepal chose another first: the first lesbian-themed film ever produced in the country. A romance between a dance teacher and one of her students, the film stirred up additional controversy because director Subama Thapa is a naturalized French citizen. “I am trying to break through the stereotypes that exist in Nepali filmmaking today,” said Thapa in a statement.
Director: Alex Van Warmerdam
A dark, twisted fantasy about a seemingly homeless man who shows up at an upper-class home, asks to use the bath and ends up terrorizing the family, “Borgman” is a surreal dream – as Sasha Stone wrote at TheWrap when it played at Cannes, “It isn’t just any dream, but a bizarre, rambling, vivid dream that startles you awake in a cold sweat: a naked man straddling you, staring at you while you sleep, making you dream terrible things about your husband as you’re being seduced by Borgman.”
Director: Dana Rotberg
Based on a novella by Witi Ihimaera, the author of the Oscar-nominated “Whale Rider,” “White Lies” is set in the early 20th Century in a small New Zealand town, where three very different women are brought together by a secret that could destroy one of them. This marks the second time that New Zealand has submitted an entry in the category, the first being “The Orator” two years ago.
“I Am Yours”
Director: Iram Haq
Set in Norway’s Pakistani community, actress-turned-director Iram Haq’s film is a character study of a self-destructive actress and single mother making a mess of her life. The film won favorable reviews after screening in the Discovery section at the recent Toronto Film Festival, with particular praise for Amrita Acharia’s lead performance and for the maturity of Haq’s directorial debut.
Directors: Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi
The story of three men in their early 20s who want to escape their working-class neighborhood and head for the West, “Zinda Bhaag” features Bollywood star Naseeruddin Shah and includes so many Indian filmmakers in key roles that some have questioned its eligibility as a Pakistani film. One member of the Pakistani jury that made the selection called it “funny, natural, hip and casually audacious.”
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Abu-Assad directed 2005’s “Paradise Now,” the only Palestinian selection every nominated for an Oscar in this category. A jury winner in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section earlier this year, the film is an “impossible love story” set on the West Bank.
Director: Adrian Saba
The apocalypse, or something close to it, was popular on American movie screens this past summer, with the likes of “World War Z,” “This Is the End” and “The World’s End.” First-time Peruvian director Saba has gotten in on the trend as well with this drama set in a futuristic Lima that has been ravaged by an epidemic. Peru was a surprise nominee in 2010 for “The Milk of Sorrow.”
Director: Hannah Espia
While the UK has submitted a film set in the Philippines, the Philippines has gone with a drama set in Israel, and dealing with a single father and immigrant worker whose children are subject to deportation under new Israeli law. Ping Medina plays a father who must hide his two children from immigration police to avoid losing them.
“Walesa. Man of Hope”
Director: Andrej Wajda
Four of Wajda’s films (“The Promised Land,” “The Maids of Wilko,” “Man of Iron” and “Katyn”) have been nominated for foreign-language Oscars, and the director was given an honorary Academy Award in 2000. Of this biopic that recently screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, the most iconic Polish director tackles the iconic Polish leader, Wadja has said he is trying to bring the truth to Polish moviegoers rather than entertaining the Western audience. Reviews out of Venice and Toronto said Wadja has delivered a straightforward, old-fashioned biopic, but one that does not whitewash controversial elements of Walesa’s life and career.
“Lines of Wellington”
Director: Valeria Sarmiento
Set in the Peninsula War, a conflict between France and an alliance of Spain, Portugal and the UK over control of the Iberian Peninsula in 1810, the film (and a linked television series) stars John Malkovich as the Duke of Wellington, who constructed the Lines of Torres Vedras and helped drive the French back. Chilean director Raul Ruiz, whose films include “Mysteries of Lisbon” and “Geneaologies of a Crime,” died while planning the film, which was completed by his widow, Valeria Sarmiento, herself a veteran director and editor.
Director: Calin Peter Netzer
This family drama was a big hit in Romania, which despite a recent wave of critically acclaimed films that includes “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “Police, Adjective” and “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” has yet to land a nomination. It took the top award at Berlin Film Festival, as well as the FIPRESCI critics’ award. Star Luminita Gheorghiu was also in two previous Romanian submissions, both from director Christian Mungiu, “4 Months … ” and “Behind the Hills.”
Director: Fedor Bondarchuk
A World War II epic about the Battle of Stalingrad, Bondarchuk’s film is big: It’s the first Russian movie made using 3D technology, and the first non-American film produced in IMAX. It also uses the standby of many historical epics by focusing on a love story in the shadow of a grand conflagration.
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
One of several potential contenders from Sony Pictures Classics, which has won the last four Oscars in the category, “Wadjda” is a crowd-pleasing film that has played well in film festivals for the past year. The story of a young girl who schemes to acquire a bicycle even though her Islamic society tells her that she shouldn’t, it is the first feature shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia, and the first Saudi film from a female director.
Director: Srdan Golubovic
A drama that begins during the Balkan civil wars of the early 1990s and deals with the reverberations from that violence, “Circles” won a jury prize at Sundance this year. Golubovic uses three interlocking stories to examine the fallout from an act of brutality in 1993, in a drama that was based on a true story.
Director: Anthony Chen
Winner of the Camera d’Or as the best first feature at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Ilo Ilo” is a family drama set against the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. Film Movement acquired North American rights to the film in May and plans a 2014 release after a Toronto Film Festival booking.
“My Dog Killer”
Director: Mira Fornay
Using non-actors and no musical score, Fornay tells the story of a teenage boy with no friends except some local skinheads, and only a guard dog for companionship. Set on the Slovak-Moravian border, the film won the Hivos Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival and was nominated for a European Film Award.
Director: Rok Bicek
Like the Danish entry “The Hunt,” “Class Enemy” deals with student-teacher relations — in this case, a new German teacher who is blamed for the suicide of a female student in his class. Loosely based on events in Bicek’s own high-school class, the film premiered in Venice and won favorable reviews.
Trailer (no English subtitles)
Director: Ian Gabriel
The first film to deal with a century-long gang war on the outskirts of Cape Town, “Four Corners” was a unanimous choice of the South African selection committee, which called it a “fresh, original and intensely engaging” work that “often [blurred] the line between fiction and reality.” The film uses a mixture of professional actors and non-pros speaking in three different South African dialects.
Director: Kang Yi-kwan
Still vying for its first Oscar nomination despite the presence of acclaimed auteurs like Kim Ki-duk and Hong Sang-soo, South Korea is still looking for its first Oscar nomination. This year’s entry, selected from a shortlist of nine, focuses on a mother whose son has just been released from jail.
“15 Years Plus a Day”
Director: Gracia Querejeta
Director Querejeta has spent most of her career directing television episodes, shorts and documentaries, along with a handful of feature films. “15 Years Plus a Day,” which has had scant exposure outside Spain, won out over a shortlist that also included the twisted love story “Cannibal,” but not Pedro Almodovar‘s “I’m So Excited!”
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Eat Sleep Die”
Director: Gabriela Pichler
“Eat Sleep Die” was a dominant winner at Sweden’s version of the Oscars, the Guldbagge Awards, winning the best-picture award and also picking up honors for its director, screenplay and lead actress. The drama deals with an unemployed woman cares for her ailing father while attempting to find work in a small town in southern Sweden.
“More Than Honey”
Director: Markus Imhoof
Every year, one or two countries submit documentaries in the Oscar foreign-language race – and Switzerland, which made the shortlist last year with Ursula Meier’s “Sister,” was the first to do so this year. The film looks at honeybee colonies in Switzerland, the United States, China and Australia, on the impact of commercial beekeeping and on how threats to the bee population can impact the worldwide environment.
Director: Chung Mong-Hong
This psychological thriller about a man who may be possessed won admiring reviews in Toronto; Scott A. Gray called it “a uniquely moving and disturbing picture” that “uses surreal cinematic poetry to postulate schizophrenia as a disassociation of the spirit.” The director has said that he was inspired by adventurous and unconventional directors like David Lynch and Masaki Kobayashi.
Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya
It looks more like a midnight movie than an Oscar contender: “Countdown” is set in New York on New Year’s Eve, where three Thai hipsters are threatened by a crazed drug dealer named Jesus. On the other hand, Thailand didn’t have any luck when it submitted the Cannes’ winning art movie “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” so why not go in a different direction?
“The Butterfly’s Dream”
Director Yilmaz Erdogan
A big hit in its native country, Erdogan’s romance follows two poetry students who are forced into coal mining in wartime Turkey, and who compete for the affections of a young woman by writing poetry. Erdogan has said his film is a tribute to the country’s “diversified narrative culture,” which was fading before a new wave of Kurdish and Turkish directors brought it back.
Directors: Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova
A biopic about the legendary Soviet director Sergei Paradjanov, whose admirers included Fellini and Godard, this film takes its some cues from its subject, whose own narratives often veered into the surrealistic. Co-director Avedikian also plays the title role.
Director: Sean Ellis
When the UK submits an entry, it typically does so with a film in the Welsh or Irish language – but since AMPAS rules no longer require a country to choose a film in its own language, Sean Ellis’ Philippine-set drama qualified this year. The film stars Jake Macapagal as a man who leaves the impoverished countryside to take work at an armored truck company in Manila.
Director: Alfredo Soderguit
Uruguay has submitted a rare animated entry, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the animated 2008 nominee “Waltz With Bashir.” But “Anina” is aimed at a younger audience, with its story of a young girl traumatized by the fact that her name is a palindrome.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Breach in the Silence”
Directors: Luis Rodriguez and Andres Rodriguez
The story of a deaf girl trying to save herself and her siblings despite the fact that her mother never even allowed her to learn sign language, “Breach in the Silence” comes from a pair of directors who spent time as social workers with abandoned children.
Trailer (no subtitles)