The deadline has passed, but the submissions keep coming. Or, to be more accurate, more countries have disclosed this week which films they entered into the Oscar Foreign-Language Film competition prior to the October 1 deadline.
The latest batch includes three countries that have never been nominated (Chile, Costa Rica and Slovenia) and four that have been nominated once before (Georgia, Kazahkstan, Puerto Rico and Uruguay).
Entries range from a real-time drama to a thriller, from an extravagant film that embarks into flights of fantasy to a low-key black-and-white drama about everyday rituals in a dying movie theater.
The Academy will unveil its full list of contending films once its foreign-language committee has completed looking into the eligibility of submissions, probably by the middle of October.
The new submissions:
CHILE: “The Life of Fish” (photo above)
Director: Matias Bize
The story of a Chilean who returns to his home country after 10 years in Germany, planning to say his goodbyes before relocating permanently to Berlin, “The Life of Fish” takes place in real time as its protagonist, in the words of director Bize, “spends 83 minutes confronting his past and his present.” Boyd Van Hoeij: a “slow-burning yakfest … loquacious and ultimately poignant.”
COSTA RICA: “Of Love and Other Demons”
Director: Hilda Hidalgo
That Latin American staple, magical realism, comes courtesy of a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which the teenaged daughter of a marquis is thought to be possessed after she’s bitten by a rabid dog. Movies Kick Assblog: “a handsomely crafted picture that fails to stimulate anything other than the eye.”
GEORGIA: “Street Days”
Director: Levan Koguashvili
The lead character in this gritty, absurdist drama is a homeless heroin addict offered a deal by the authorities: introduce a minister’s son to drugs so that we can blackmail the minister, and we won’t send you to jail. The film looks both at a lost generation of the middle aged in post-Soviet Georgia, and at kids without inspiration or purpose. Andrew Robertson: “It should be no surprise that heroin screws you up, but ‘Street Days'’ style, setting, and skill show that there's more than that that can destroy a life, if not a whole generation.”
Director: Akan Satayev
Commercial, film and television director Satayev’s entry is a genre picture of sorts, a moody, dark thriller that initially seems to occupy the same kind of territory as “The Vanishing”: a man is on the road with his wife and son when his car breaks down. The next morning his family is missing, and the occupants of a nearby house might know more than they’re saying … but things may not be what they seem. Robert Koehler: “its initially involving conundrums surrounding the disappearance of a man's wife and son lose much of their power as everything gets explained.”
PUERTO RICO: “Miente”
Director: Rafi Mercado
Is this the “Black Swan” of the foreign-language category? Based on the Javier Avila novel “Different,” “Miente” (“Lie”) follows a young artist losing his grasp on the boundary between fantasy and reality. According to the film's producer, Frances Lausell, Mercado has created “a Latino psychological thriller with a unique visual style.”
Director: Igor Sterk
A police investigator becomes obsessed with one of his cases, moving into the apartment of a deceased man and gradually assuming his identity. The film swept the Slovenian Film Festival last October, winning nine awards. Rick McGrath: “ostensibly a fairly simple police mystery story – a man is dead, foul play? — which director/writer Igor Sterk has dressed up with a complete wardrobe of cool and clever ideas that transforms a death into a study of the amiss and suicide-seeking mind.”
Insomnia World Sales website (includes trailer).
URUGUAY: “A Useful Life”
Director: Federico Veiroj
It is, perhaps, a movie for those who love the ritual of going to the movies – a quiet, measured black-and-white film about the day-to-day life of the programmer who’s spent two decades working in a movie theater that’s now on its last legs. It reportedly won a rare round of applause at its Toronto Film Festival press & industry screening. Daniel Kasman: “wonderfully trim and sensitive.”