Here is the complete list of the 92 films that have qualified in the 2019 Oscar race for Best International Feature Film.
The category was formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film, but was changed in early 2019 to reflect the international nature of the Academy and of filmmaking.
This list includes links to trailers when available. An asterisk indicates that TheWrap has seen the film.
Director: Bujar Alimani
Set in late 1990, “The Delegation” looks at the communist regime in Albania as it decides to free a political prisoner to help persuade a European delegation that the county is making reforms and deserves to be admitted to the OSCE security body. Director Alimani has represented the country twice before in the Oscar race, with 2011’s “Amnesty” and 2016’s “Chromium.” The country has never been nominated.
Director: Mounia Meddour
Premiering in the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Papicha” stars Lyna Khoudri as a young fashion-design student who chafes at the increasing social conservatism during the Algerian Civil War during the 1990s. Its Oscar eligibility was put in jeopardy when local authorities cancelled its Algerian release without explanation just before the Academy’s deadline, almost certainly because of political discomfort with its subject matter — but the Academy ruled that because the cancellation was beyond the filmmakers’ control, the film would not lose its eligibility.
Director: Sebastian Borensztein
Ricardo Darin, who starred in Argentina’s last Oscar winner, 2009’s “The Secret in Their Eyes,” is both a star and a producer of this film, which was adapted from Eduardo Sacheri’s novel about small-town citizens trying to recover the money they lost in Argentina’s economic depression around the turn of the century. A caper film often compared to “Ocean’s Eleven,” it played at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, after its Argentinian release.
Director: Edgar Baghdasaryan
Armenia’s eighth Oscar submission is a historical drama that spans 1,000 years, telling stories that are set in 1003, 1915 and 2018 and are tied together by the presence of a mysterious stone. It won the best film award at the Anahit National Award Ceremony.
Director: Rodd Rathjen
In its Oscar submissions, Australia has sometimes submitted films in the country’s indigenous languages, sometimes films set in other countries. “Buoyancy” falls into the latter category and is set in Thailand, where a teenage Cambodian boy finds himself a victim of human trafficking. It was shot largely at sea.
Director: Subadeh Mortezai
This drama from Mortezai, a director who came up in documentaries, focuses on a Nigerian woman bound to a sex-trafficking ring in Vienna by fear and superstition. Made in a variety of languages including a surprisingly large amount of English, the film won the top prize at the 2018 London Film Festival, as well as other awards in Venice and Chicago, and is now available on Netflix.
Director: Nasiruddin Yousuff
The central character in this film is a poor painter who lives in a shack perched over a lake in Dhaka. Yousuff, who made two previous features before this one, occasionally slips into a surreal storytelling style as he examines the inequities and injustices of life in Bangladesh.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Anastasiya Miroshnichenko
The fourth film to be submitted by Belarus is its first documentary entry, and was chosen from three eligible films. It takes place inside a women’s prison that houses first-time offenders, focusing on 11 inmates who are taking place in a theatrical production inside the facility.
Subtitled extended trailer
Director: Cesar Diaz
Diaz won the Camera d’Or for the best first film at this year’s Cannes film festival for his Belgian-Guatemalan drama set during the 2018 trials of those responsible for Guatemala’s lengthy civil war. Its central character is an anthropologist who thinks he has a clue to the whereabouts of his father, a guerilla fighter who disappeared in the 1980s.
Subtitled film clip
“Tu Me Manques”
Director: Rodrigo Bellot
Bellot, who represented Bolivia in the Oscar race with “Sexual Dependency” in 2003, is back with a film that stirred up controversy in its home country because of its story of a man confronting his gay son’s lover in the wake of the son’s suicide. The film is an adaptation of a 2015 stage play by Bellot and won a screenplay prize at Outfest last year.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Director: Ines Tanovic
Director Ines Tanovic, whose film opened this year’s Sarajevo Film Festival, represented Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Oscar race four years ago with “Our Everyday Life.” “The Son” focuses on a teenager whose younger stepbrother is drawn into drug addiction.
Director: Karim Ainouz
While many thought Brazil would submit the Cannes main-competition entry “Bacurau,” the country instead went for this film, which played in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at Cannes and won the top prize in that section. The period melodrama is drawn from the 2016 novel by Martha Batalha about two sisters struggling with the patriarchal society of 1950s Brazil.
Director: Milko Lazarov
Lazarov’s film is set not in Bulgaria, but in the Arctic regions far to the north, where the traditional way of life is becoming more difficult for an elderly couple. Nodding to the 1922 classic “Nanook of the North” via the name of its lead character, Nanook, the film is a quiet character study that subtly address the effects of climate change in a landscape of surpassing beauty and desolation.
“In the Life of Music”
Director: Caylee So, Sok Visal
“In the Life of Music” spans three generations in the life of a Cambodian family in three chapters set in 19765, 1986 and 2006. It focuses on the Sinn Sisamouth song “Champa Battambang,” a staple at Cambodian weddings, but also deals with the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in the country.
Director: Sophie Deraspe
The fifth feature from director Sophie Deraspe puts a modern spin on Sophocles’ classic tragedy of the same name by starting with a police shooting and then focusing on a teenage girl who helps her brother escape from prison. It won the award as the best Canadian film at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
Director: Andres Wood
Two years after winning the Oscar for “A Fantastic Woman,” Chile has submitted a political thriller focusing on members of a right-wing paramilitary group that was backed by the CIA and fought the Salvador Allende government before dictator Augusto Pinochet came to power in 1973. Spanning 40 years, the film from director Wood (who has represented Chile three times in the Oscar race) ties the past together with the rise of neo-nationalism today.
“Ne Zha” *
Director: Yu Yang
China and Japan have both submitted animated films this year, with the Chinese entry being an action-heavy, computer-animated fantasy epic that might warrant the “Game of Thrones” subtitle “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It is the second highest-grossing film in Chinese history, and the first animated Chinese feature to be released in IMAX.
Director: Alejandro Landes
Landes, whose admirers include Oscar-winning directors Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro G. Inarritu, has fashioned a tale about a group of teens who are guarding an American hostage (Julianne Nicholson) in a remote outpost, answering only to a shadowy group called the Organization. The film, with hints of “The Lord of the Flies” and a dark, adventurous style, has already received a U.S. theatrical release.
Trailer (no dialogue)
“The Awakening of the Ants”
Director: Antonella Sudasassi Furniss
In the 14 years in which it has been submitting films to the Oscars, Costa Rica has a history of sending films that feature young female protagonists. “The Awakening of the Ants” is no exception, focusing on a young wife and mother whose societal and sexual frustration erupts into surreal fantasies.
Director: Antonio Nuic
Nuic is representing Croatia for the second time in the Oscar race, after 2009’s “Donkey.” Actor Vito Dijak plays a father struggling to get custody of his son after returning from four years in prison for dealing drugs.
Director: Rodrigo Barriuso, Sebastian Barriuso
The miniseries “Chernobyl” cleaned up at the Emmys, which might give a boost to this Sundance drama about the little-known fact that thousands of children affected by radiation from the nuclear accident were sent to Cuba for treatment. The main character, a Cuban professor of Russian literature who is ordered to a hospital to serve as a translator between doctors and sick children, is based on the directors’ father.
“The Painted Bird” *
Director: Vaclav Marhoud
This episodic and epic adaptation of Jerzy Kozinski’s 1964 novel about a young Jewish boy wandering through Eastern Europe in World War II won raves when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, along with some walkouts during its most wrenching scenes. The black-and-white drama, which is being released in the U.S. by IFC, is the first film ever made in the Interslavic language, a semi-created language designed to allow speakers of five-different Slavic languages to communicate.
“Queen of Hearts” *
Director: May el-Toukhy
With one win, five nominations and two short-listed films in the last nine years, Denmark has been the most successful country at the Oscars over the last decade. Quietly and darkly provocative with a graphic and disturbing sex scene, “Queen of Hearts” won the audience award at Sundance this year and stars Trine Dyrholm as a lawyer who becomes dangerously attracted to her teenage stepson.
Director: Jose Maria Cabral
Moviegoers and film-first diehards who feel threatened by the rise of Netflix may be attracted to this drama, whose protagonist is a middle-aged man who drives from one small Dominican town to the next with a portable movie projector, bringing film to towns that don’t have theaters. Jose Maria Cabral has directed three of the 12 Dominican Oscar entries, with 2012’s “Jaque Mate” and 2017’s “Woodpeckers” preceding “The Projectionist.”
“The Longest Night”
Director: Gabriela Calvache
A young mother who supports her daughter by working as a prostitute finds an opportunity to free herself from the mob boss who controls her in this Ecuadorian crime drama. The film premiered at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival.
Director: Ahmed Fawzi Saleh
Based on the 1990 novel “Poisonous Roses for Saqr,” this film centers on a sister and brother who live with their mother in the impoverished tannery district of Cairo. Saleh made the 2010 documentary “Living Skin” about the residents of that dangerous neighborhood, but this is his first narrative feature.
Trailer (no dialogue)
“Truth and Justice”
Director: Tanel Toom
Director Toom won a Student Academy Award and was nominated for an Oscar for his short “The Confession” in 2010. “Truth and Justice” is a period drama about a rivalry between neighbors set in a rural area in the late 19th century; it broke the ticket-sales record set by “Avatar” in Estonia.
“Running Against the Wind”
Director: Jan Philipp Weyl
Ethiopia’s fourth Oscar entry comes from German-born director Weyl, who has often worked in the country. It tells the story of two brothers, one of whom wanted to become a photographer and the other with dreams of becoming an Olympic runner.
“Stupid Young Heart” *
Director: Selma Vilhunen
Vilhunen, an Oscar nominee for the 2013 short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?,” deals with both teen pregnancy and anti-immigrant sentiment in “Stupid Young Heart.” The film is a teen romance about a young couple who are expecting a child when the boy joins a neo-Nazi group.
“Les Miserables” *
Director: Ladj Ly
This tense drama about a conflict between Paris police and a group of young black men that escalated out of control received some of the best reviews in Cannes this year, although the jury did not award it any prizes. It was chosen to represent France from a field that also included the Cannes screenplay winner “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”
Director: Dimitri Tsintsadze
Russia’s often troubled relationship with its neighbors comes to the fore in “Shindisi,” which is set during the Russo-Georgian War in 2008 and focuses on the small group of Georgian fighters who held off a larger Russian force in the Shindisi Battle. Tzintsadze’s film “Mediator” was Georgia’s Oscar selection in 2008.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“System Crasher” *
Director: Nora Fingscheidt
This film about a traumatized and unruly young girl whose outbursts test the resources of Germany’s child-welfare system won the Berlin Film Festival’s Alfred Bauer Prize, which goes to a film that “opens new perspectives on cinematic art.” It is the first narrative feature for Fingscheidt, whose last film was the documentary “Ohne diese Welt.”
Director: Kwabena Gyansah
Ghana’s first-ever Oscar submission stars newcomer Asana Alhassan as a 14-year-old girl who escapes from an arranged marriage and from sex trafficking to find herself in the slums of Accra. The country had never submitted a film in the past partly because its official language is English, which meant most of its films, particularly the ones with hopes of international exposure, were also in English.
“When Tomatoes Met Wagner”
Director: Marianna Economou
Since its surprise 2009 nomination for the surreal “Dogtooth,” Greece has been torn between submitting daring, adventurous films and more mainstream ones. “When Tomatoes Met Wagner” falls squarely in the latter category, following some elderly women in a small Greek village who grow heirloom tomatoes from hundreds-year-old seeds.
“Blood, Passion, and Coffee”
Director: Carlos Membreno
The story of a coffee-producing family in Honduras struggling to survive is based on real events. It is only the second film from Honduras to be submitted to the Oscars, after 2017’s “Morazan.”
“The White Storm 2 Drug Lords”
Director: Herman Yau
Hong Kong has submitted a number of action films to the Oscars over the years, but none have been nominated and only the period epic “The Grandmaster” has made the shortlist. “The White Storm 2,” which isn’t really a sequel to 2013’s “The White Storm,” deals with a war within the Hong Kong underworld over the drug trade.
“Those Who Remained” *
Director: Barnabas Toth
World War II, always a popular topic among international Oscar submissions, is the backdrop for this evocative drama, which is tinged with sadness, about a middle-aged doctor and a teenage girl who meet in Budapest after the war and after losing their families in the Holocaust. Hungary has two nominations and one winner (“Son of Saul”) in the last four years.
“A White, White Day”
Director: Hlynur Palmason
Palmason’s second feature stars Ingvar Sigurdsson as a former police chief who becomes obsessed with learning if his late wife had an affair with a local man. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Critics’ Week sidebar.
“Gully Boy” *
Director: Zoya Akhtar
This energetic, two-and-a-half-hour, music-driven story about an aspiring rapper from Mumbai has been widely compared to an Indian version of Eminem’s 2002 drama “8 Mile.” After premiering at the Berlin Film Festival in February, it was released around the world and became the top-grossing Bollywood film of 2019 internationally.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Memories of My Body”
Director: Garin Nugroho
Loosely based on the life of Indonesian dancer Rianto, this coming-of-age story was banned in several cities in its homeland for its portrayal of a young man exploring his sexuality and embracing both his masculine and feminine sides. It won a 2018 Venice Film Festival award as the top film in the Horizon section, and also the Cultural Diversity Award at the 2018 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Directors: Azadeh Moussavi, Kourosh Ataee
The first documentary ever submitted to the Oscars by Iran is about a 40-year-old, Iranian-born woman who was adopted by a Dutch family but returns to Iran to find her birth parents. Iran has won the Oscar twice in the last seven years, both times for films by Asghar Farhadi.
Directors: Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell
A documentary that premiered at Sundance, “Gaza” is a documentary about the people of the Gaza Strip, and the daily lives they live in the face of constant conflict. It is the sixth Irish submission to the Oscars, and the third in a language other than Irish.
Director: Yaron Zilberman
A psychological portrait of an assassin, “Incitement” follows the radicalization of Israeli student Yigal Amir, who shot and killed prime minister Yitzhak Rabin because of his attempts to make peace with the Palestinians. Its provocative approach caused its Israeli release to be held until after the recent elections, but the film secured its Oscar submission by winning the top prize at the 2019 Ophir Awards.
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“The Traitor” *
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Sony Pictures Classics
Italy leads all countries in Oscar wins, though it has done so only once (with “The Great Beauty”) in the last 20 years. “The Traitor,” which premiered in the main competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is about Tommaso Buscetta, a high-ranking member of the Sicilian Mafia who turned informant and helped lead to hundreds of convictions.
“Weathering With You” *
Director: Makoto Shinkai
The U.S. rights to this animated Japanese film, the first animated film submitted to the Oscar international competition by Japan since “Princess Mononoke” in 1997, are held by GKIDS, which has had a very successful run of Best Animated Feature nominees. The film by “Your Name” director Shinkai deals with a teenage boy who befriends an orphan girl who seemingly can control the weather.
“Kazakh Khanate. The Golden Throne”
Director: Rustem Abdrashev
Kazakhstan has submitted 13 films since 1992, with 2007’s “Mongol” landing the country its sole nomination. Like that film, “Golden Throne” is a historical drama, which seems to be the preferred genre for Kazakh submissions; it is set in the 15th century, when the Kazakh identity began to emerge as the Mongol Empire disintegrated.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Ravneet Singh (Sippy) Chadha
The Kenyan Film Commission, which has submitted four films to the Oscars since 2012, said it only received two submissions this year for Oscar consideration. It chose “Subira,” starring Brenda Wairimu as a young girl whose dreams extend far beyond the arranged marriage and restrictive lifestyle offered in her town.
Director: Antoneta Kastrati
As usual with submissions from the former Yugoslavia, the civil war that ravaged the region in the ’90s haunts “Zana.” Adriana Matoshi plays a woman haunted by the loss of her child in the war and under pressure from family and friends to become pregnant again.
Director: Bezkat Pirmatov
Pirmatov’s feature debut is a drama set in a large, Soviet-era sanitarium on the shores of the Issyk-Kul lake in the Central Asian country. The sanitarium serves as a microcosm of the entire country, but over the course of a single day things change due to a “sudden break of the balance between time and space,” according to the director.
Director: Davis Simanis
Another story of World War II and the Holocaust, “The Mover” focuses on Zanis Lipke, a blue-collar worker who has been dubbed the “Latvian Schindler” for saving more than 60 Jews in his Nazi-occupied country during the war. The film is based on the fact-based novel “A Boy and a Dog” by Inese Zandere and Reinis Petersons.
Director: Oualid Mouaness
Mouaness’ drama, which is based on his own experience, takes place in a private school outside Beirut over the course of the single day in which Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. One of its leading actors is Nadine Labaki, who directed the 2018 “Capernaum,” which landed an Oscar nomination for Lebanon in this category.
“Bridges of Time”
Directors: Audrius Stonys, Kristine Briede
For the second year in a row, Lithuania has submitted a documentary to the Oscars. Last year’s entry (“Wonderful Losers: A Different World”) was about competitive cycling, but this is a documentary film about documentary filmmakers – specifically, the documentary directors from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who made up the “Baltic New Wave” in the 1960s.
“Tel Aviv on Fire”
Director: Sameh Zoabi
Kais Nashef won the best-actor award in the Orizzonti section of the 2018 Venice Film Festival for his performance in this film as a production assistant on a Palestinian soap opera. A satire that touches on show business as well as Middle East tensions, the film finds Nashef’s P.A. unexpectedly thrust into a job as a screenwriter.
“M for Malaysia” *
Directors: Dian Lee, Ineza Roussille
In 2018, general elections in Malaysia helped topple an entrenched and corrupt government for the first time in the country’s 61-year existence. This film is a documentary that chronicles the election, and goes inside the coalition led by a 92-year-old former prime minister who led the campaign (and whose granddaughter is one of the directors).
Director: Lila Aviles
Like “Roma,” Mexico’s winner in this category last year, “The Chambermaid” is an understated character study of a domestic worker. But Aviles’ film takes place in a luxury hotel, where it painstakingly and quietly follows the day-to-day routine of a 24-year-old maid and young mother.
Director: Erdenebileg Ganbold
Set in 1919 during the Russian Revolution, the film is an epic about the bond between a boy and his horse on the plains of Mongolia.
Director: Andro Martinovic
Martinovic’s debut feature is an anthology film that tells three different stories about fathers and sons. The first is set during World War II, the second at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the third during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
Director: Maryam Touzani
Director Touzani was inspired by an incident involving her parents to make this film about an unwed pregnant woman taken in by a baker at a time when it was illegal to have a child out of wedlock. The film premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section this year. Its producer, Nabil Ayouch, has directed four of the 15 Moroccan Oscar submissions, going back to “Mektoub” in 1998.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Binod Paudel
The three-wheeled, battery-powered vehicles used as taxis and known as tempos are predominantly driven by men in Nepal, but Paudel’s film focuses on a young mother who does the job. Nepali actress and music-video model Swastima Khadka plays the lead role.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Halina Reijn
“Game of Thrones” actress Carice van Houten stars in this tense psychological drama about a prison psychologist who finds herself inexorably drawn to a man convicted of sexual assaults. Director Halina Reijn’s subtle film is an unusually provocative examination of female sexuality, with standout performances from van Houten and Marwan Kenzari.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Directors: Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska
The highest-profile documentary to be submitted to the Oscar international race, “Honeyland” is a cinema verité look at a Macedonian beekeeper whose daily life showcases the increasingly perilous balance between human beings and the natural world. A Sundance premiere that won that festival’s documentary jury award, it also appeared on the recent DOC NYC list of the 15 likeliest awards contenders among this year’s nonfiction films.
“Out Stealing Horses” *
Director: Hans Petter Moland
The Silver Bear cinematography winner at this year’s Berlin Film Festival stars Stellan Skarsgard as a widower whose move to the country brings back memories of the summer of 1948, the year he turned 15. Earlier this year, director Moland made his English-language debut with “Cold Pursuit,” a remake of his 2014 Norwegian film “In Order of Disappearance.”
Director: Kamal Khan
The friendship between a taxi driver in Karachi and a woman who is searching for her late husband’s murderers drives this action crime thriller. Pakistani selection committee member Hamna Zubair called it “the most sophisticated film Pakistani cinema has produced in the last few years.”
“It Must Be Heaven” *
Director: Elia Suleiman
Suleiman’s first feature film in 10 years is an exploration of nationality and identity that explores those issues with deadpan humor and comic invention, winning a special mention in the screenplay category from the Cannes jury. The director himself plays the lead character, who takes in the absurdities of the world around him as the film ambles through a series of short sketches and vignettes.
Trailer (no dialogue)
Director: Arturo Montenegro
South and Central American countries have been fairly regularly submitting films with LBGT themes in recent years, including Chile’s Oscar-winning “A Fantastic Woman.” Panama did so this year with “Everybody Changes,” a drama about a father who comes out as a transgender woman to his wife and three children.
Director: Alvaro Delgado Aparicio
Named after the Spanish word for small devotional artwork, “Retablo” focuses on a boy who is being trained by his father to follow the family trade of creating that religious art, but who is shaken when he learns a secret about his father. The film won the award as the best LGBT-themed debut film at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Director: Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
Like the 2016 Philippine entry “Ma Rosa,” “Verdict” deals with the way the system is stacked against working-class people – though in this case it examines the labyrinthine criminal justice system through the eyes of a woman who had been the victim of domestic abuse. The film won a special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival, where it was the only film from Southeast Asia in the program.
Director: Jan Komasa
With four nominations and one win (“Ida”) in the last 12 years, Poland has been enjoying a good run at the Oscars. “Corpus Christi,” which premiered in Venice, deals with a young man who undergoes a spiritual transformation while in a juvenile facility for second-degree murder, but whose ambitions to become a priest are stymied by his criminal record.
Director: Tiago Guedes
Trying to break its record streak of 35 Oscar submissions without a nomination, Portugal has submitted a two-hour-and-46-minute epic that covers eight decades in the life of a wealthy family. Well-known Portuguese stage actor Albano Jeronimo has his first starring film role as the head of a family through whom we see the political and social history of the country since the 1940s.
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“The Whistlers” *
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
One of the most fruitful sources of international cinema over the last two decades, Romania hopes to end its baffling exclusion from the roster of Oscar nominees with this dark procedural from “Police, Adjective” director Porumboiu. The story of a police officer who has to learn a local language that consists entirely of whistling in order to free an imprisoned businessman, “The Whistler” is an oversized, twisted film that runs on an endless supply of black humor and a sizeable body count.
Director: Kantemir Balagov
The 27-year-old director Balagov won the directing prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section for this dark story, which contains a couple of absolutely wrenching scenes, set in a ravaged Leningrad in the aftermath of World War II. The central characters are two women shattered by the war and trying to recover in different ways.
“The Perfect Candidate” *
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
Saudi Arabia has only submitted three films to the Oscars, and Haifaa Al Mansour – the first Saudi woman ever to direct a feature film with 2013’s “Wadjda” – has directed two of them. “The Perfect Candidate” follows a female doctor trying to fight systemic sexism to run for city council, and was one of only two films directed by women in the main competition at the Venice Film Festival this year.
Director: Mati Diop
Part dark drama about the exploitation of workers in Africa and part ghost story, “Atlantics” was directed by Mati Diop, the first black female director to ever have a film in the main competition at Cannes. The film won the Grand Prix, Cannes’ second-place award, and was picked up for distribution by Netflix.
“King Peter the First”
Director: Petar Ristovski
Biopics about national heroes typically have a rough time advancing in the Oscar race, but Serbia has submitted the story of King Peter I, the last King of Serbia and the first King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Director Ristovski has also turned the material into an 11-episode series for Serbian television.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“A Land Imagined”
Director: Yeo Siew Hua
The central character in this mystery thriller is a police investigator trying to solve the disappearance of a Chinese migrant worker. Since it premiered in Locarno in 2018, the film has won awards at that festival and also at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and festivals in Rotterdam, London, Nepal, China, the Philippines, Singapore and Spain.
“Let There Be Light”
Director: Marko Skop
Skop has directed two narrative features since his early work in documentaries, and both of those features – this one and 2015’s “Eva Nova” – have represented Slovakia in the Oscar race. It deals with a Slovakian carpenter who returns to his hometown from Germany to find that his son has joined a violent, extreme far-right paramilitary group.
“History of Love”
Director: Sonja Prosenc
The protagonist of Prosenc’s second film is a 17-year-old, hearing-impaired girl whose discovery that her late mother kept secrets from her sends both her and the film into a dream-like state. The film premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in 2018.
Trailer (English dialogue)
Director: Jahmil X.T. Qubeka
This is the second year in a row that a film by Qubeka has been submitted by South Africa, with this and last year’s “Sew the Winter to My Skin” making him the country’s only back-to-back representative. Set in the township where Qubeka grew up, the film deals with an aging boxer teaming up with his career criminal brother for one last shot at success.
Director: Bong Joon Ho
The closest South Korea has ever come to an Oscar nomination was last year, when “Burning” made the shortlist but wasn’t nominated. “Parasite” is the odds-on favorite to end that surprising streak of futility, and maybe even break into categories like Best Picture and Best Director. Bong Joon Ho’s Palme d’Or winner uses black humor to tackle the issue of disparity in the story of a lower-class family whose fortunes improve when they manage to make themselves indispensable to a rich clan.
“Pain and Glory” *
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Almodovar looks back at his own life in this gentle reverie, in which he reimagines his life as a fantasia borne out of the cinematic vocabulary he’s created over the last four decades. Antonio Banderas was named the best actor at Cannes for his quiet and enormously affecting performance as a director who is not Almodovar but is definitely modeled after Almodovar.
“And Then We Danced”
Director: Levan Akin
Swedish-born director Akin went back to his Georgia roots for this story of a young Georgian dancer who begins to question his sexuality when a new, rival dancer arrives on the scene. The film premiered in the Directors Fortnight sidebar at Cannes.
“Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa” *
Director: Michael Steiner
The first Swiss submission in Yiddish, and the first Swiss film bought by Netflix, “Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey” is set in the Orthodox Jewish community in Zurich, where the title character falls in love with a non-Jewish woman. Opening in its home country in late 2018, the comedy became the top Swiss film of that year.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Directors: Mag Hsu, Chih-yen Hsu
A widow and her teenage son find that their late husband and father left his money not to them but to a secret gay lover in this comedy from a pair of Taiwanese directors. It won four prizes at the Taipei Film Awards.
“Krasue: Inhuman Kiss”
Director: Sitisiri Mongkolsiri
You don’t often find a horror film submitted to the international Oscar race, but Thailand entered one this year. “Inhuman Kiss” stars Phantira Pipityakom as a teenage girl who inherits the curse of a nocturnal female spirit known in Thailand as “Krasue,” and whose head detaches from her body each night to go hunting for victims.
Director: Mohamed Ben Attia
The last film from Belgium’s social-realism auteurs the Dardenne brothers, “Young Ahmed,” dealt with the radicalization of a young Islamic boy, and the Dardennes also served as co-producers on “Dear Son,” which wades into similar territory. It follows a middle-class couple whose teenage son leaves Tunisia for Syria, where he joins ISIS.
Director: Semih Kaplanoglu
Kaplanoglu represented Turkey at the Oscars nine years ago with “Honey.” He’s back with this drama about a new mother who hires a babysitter and begins to face things about herself that she has refused to admit.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Nariman Aliev
When “Homeward” premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes in May, its home country was not yet at the middle of an impeachment inquiry. But the sorrowful, intimate “Homeward” is only political under the surface; it’s a spare and sad road trip in which a father drives across the country with his sullen younger son and the corpse of his older son, a soldier who was killed in fighting with Russia.
Trailer (no subtitles)
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“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” *
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor
A Sundance premiere that is now available on Netflix, actor-turned-director Ejiofor’s film focuses on a young boy in Malawi who comes up with a plan to save his village from drought. The film is based on the memoir by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.
“The Moneychanger” *
Director: Federico Veiroj
Money-laundering is a source of dark comedy in “The Moneychanger,” in which a banker takes advantage of loose currency laws and economic uncertainty to become a highly successful money launderer. The satire is Veiroj’s second time representing Uruguay in the Oscar race, and is looking to become the country’s first nominee in 19 submissions, two of which were disqualified.
Director: Umid Khamdamov
Another country submitting to the Oscars for the first time, Uzbekistan has entered a drama about a teenage girl who wants to move from the small village where she lives with her grandmother to the city where her mother works. The film won best-film and screenplay awards at Uzbekistan’s national film awards.
Director: Patricia Ortega
The lead character in Ortega’s second feature is a young intersex woman who questions her gender identity after learning that as a child she underwent a series of surgeries to conform to a female body. The director said she made the film to explore a topic that is never discussed in Latin America.
Director: Le Van Kiet
The first martial arts movie ever submitted to the Oscars by Vietnam, “Furie” is about a debt collector with former gang ties who is drawn back to her past life when her daughter is kidnapped. The film received a U.S. release in March and is now available on Netflix.