Submissions for the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category closed on Monday, Oct. 3, and voters received their required-viewing assignments on Oct. 28. Those viewing assignments included 92 different films, one less than the record number of entries set in 2020 and tied last year.
The highest-profile entry comes from Mexico, which submitted “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” from “Birdman” and “The Revenant” director Alejandro G. Inarritu. Other top contenders include another Netflix release, director Edward Berger’s German-language adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” as well as South Korea’s “Decision to Leave” from Park Chan-wook and Belgium’s “Close” from Lukas Dhont.
And in a year with relatively few clear favorites, other films with a good chance of making the 15-film shortlist include Austria’s “Corsage,” with Vicky Krieps; Argentina’s historical drama “Argentina, 1985”; Denmark’s harrowing “Holy Spider,” Canada’s animated documentary “Eternal Spring,” France’s “Saint Omer,” Poland’s “EO,” Pakistan’s “Joyland” and Norway’s “War Sailor.”
But the smaller-than-usual batch of high-profile films means that members screenings and links will be of paramount importance and could propel a number of lesser-known films to the shortlist.
The Academy will also host in-person and virtual meetings for voters in the category, in order for them to share their thoughts on the contenders.
Members who volunteer are given a list of eight or nine films they must watch in order for their votes to count, but they are encouraged to see additional films not on their list. First-round voting will take place in early December, with a shortlist of 15 films announced on Dec. 21. Nomination voting takes place in January and is open to members who watch all 15 shortlisted films. All of those films will be screened at Academy theaters in Los Angeles, New York and London.
This list, which includes links to trailers when available, is of the films that have been placed in the Academy Screening Room for the category or placed on a require-viewing list, or those whose home countries have officially announced them as entries. The Academy credentials a submission committee in each country, and that country is allowed to enter a single film in the Oscar race. The record for qualifying films is 93, which was set in 2020 and tied last year.
Inclusion on TheWrap’s list is not a guarantee that a film will be deemed eligible by the Academy, which must vet each entry to make sure it meets AMPAS requirements. The Academy is expected to release its official list of eligible films in early December.
Because of tensions with the U.S. over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has announced that it will not enter a film this year.
An asterisk indicates that TheWrap has seen the film.
“A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On”
Director: Gentian Koci
Director Koci’s first film, “Daybreak,” was Albania’s Oscar entry in 2017; his second is “A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On,” about deaf-mute twins who also have a disease that will make them blind. Albania has submitted 15 films to the Oscars without landing a nomination or placing a film on the shortlist.
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Seven films from director Bouchareb have represented Algeria in the Oscar race, more than any other director, including three of the country’s five nominated movies. “Our Brothers” deals with a pair of real-life French-Algerian students who were killed by police during protests in Paris in 1986. The film screened out of competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Clip (French subtitles)
“Argentina, 1985” *
Director: Santiago Mitre
Mitre’s effectively straightforward drama focuses on the trial in which a pair of prosecutors fought to convict the leaders of the dictatorship that ruled Argentina for almost a decade in the 1970s and ’80s. It stars Ricardo Darin, the veteran actor who played the lead in 2009’s “The Secret in Their Eyes,” the last Argentinian film to win the Oscar.
“Aurora’s Sunrise” *
Director: Inna Sahakyan
On paper one of the most novel entries in this year’s race, “Aurora’s Sunrise” is an animated documentary, as was last year’s nominee “Flee.” It tells the story of Aurora Mardiganian, who survived the Armenian genocide, was sold into slavery and eventually escaped and made her way to New York City, where she co-wrote a memoir, “Ravished Armenia,” and then starred as herself in “Auction of Souls,” a 1919 silent film adaptation of the book.
“You Won’t Be Alone”
Director: Goran Stolevski
Macedonian-Australian director Stolevski returned to his country of birth to make this creepy drama about a young girl in 19th century Macedonia who is visited as an infant by a witch who turns her into a shapeshifter. Noomi Rapace plays a supporting role in the film, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was released in April by Focus Features.
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Vicky Krieps won the best-actress award in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of 19th century Austrian Empress Elisabeth, a woman who was given almost no agency in her own life despite her royal title. Writer-director Marie Kreutzer mixes historical fact with fiction and deliberate anachronism to break out of the historical-drama genre.
Director: Shamil Aliyev
Aliyev is the director of “Steppe Man,” which was the Azerbaijani entry at the Oscars in 2013. HIs new film is a documentary about two 20th century architects, Mikail Useynov and Sadig Dadashev.
Director: Mejbaur Rahman Sumon
A fishing boat staffed entirely by men finds a young girl in its net, and then must decide what to do with the girl whose very presence is thought to bring bad luck. Well-known Bangladeshi actor Chanchal Chowdhury stars in the film, which was released in the U.S. in early September.
Director: Lukas Dhont
Four years after representing Belgium with the 2018 drama “Girl,” Lukas Dhont is back with a touching story of the friendship between two 13-year-old boys. The film won the Grand Prix in Cannes this year and is being released in the U.S. by A24.
Director: Alejandro Loayza Grisi
The debut film from Loayza Grisi, “Utama” won the top prize in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition in January. It deals with an aging indigenous couple who consider moving to the city when drought affects the highlands where they live. Kino Lorber is releasing the film in U.S
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Director: Aida Begic
Bosian director Begic has made five feature films, and four of them – “Snow,” “Children of Sarajevo,” “Never Leave Me” and now “A Ballad” – have represented her country in the Oscar race. Its central character is an aspiring actress who leaves her husband and must fight for custody of her daughter despite a system that is biased against women.
Director: Gabriel Martins
The title may suggest outer space, but Martins’ film is a more grounded look at a Black family in an industrial city in Brazil, struggling to get by at a time when the country has elected a far-right president. The film premiered at Sundance in January and also played in Tribeca.
“In the Heart of the Machine”
Director: Martin Makariev
Chosen by an Oscar selection committee that was chaired by “Borat” actress Maria Bakalova, “In the Heart of the Machine” is set in a Sofia prison and has drawn comparisons to “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption” in its country of origin. Alexander Sano plays a prisoner who is tasked with assembling a team of inmates to increase production in an industrial plant.
“Return to Seoul” *
Director: Davy Chou
Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou based this drama on a woman he knew who was born to South Korean parents but adopted by a French couple and raised in France. First-time actress Ji-Min Park plays the lead role in the film, which premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and MUBI.
“The Planters Plantation”
Director: Dingha Young Eystein
Based on a true story and set in west Africa in the 1960s, “The Planters Plantation” deals with a young woman who fights to preserve her father’s legacy on the colonial-era plantation he left to her on his death. The film is the fifth Cameroonian submission to the Oscars, though one of the previous entries was deemed ineligible.
“Eternal Spring” *
Director: Jason Loftus
Most of the Canadian entry takes place in China, where in 2002 a group of Falun Gong adherents took control of state-run television stations to protest the repression of their religious movement. The documentary makes extensive use of animation from comic-book artist Daxiong, who himself fled China in the aftermath of the crackdown that came after the takeover. The film is Canada’s first animated submission and its first documentary submission in the category.
Director: Fernando Guzzoni
Based on the headline-grabbing Spiniak Case in which noted politicians and businessmen were the clients in a child prostitution ring, “Blanquita” premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won the screenplay prize in the Horizons section for writer-director Guzzoni. Laura Lopez makes her feature debut as the 18-year-old girl who becomes the trial’s key witness.
Director: Wen Muye
Looking for its first nomination since 2002’s “Hero,” China has tended to submit large-scale films and historical dramas in recent years. But “Nice View” is a lower-key family drama about a young man who starts a business in an attempt to raise money for his sister’s medical bills. The film made more than $200 million in China to become one of the country’s 10 highest-grossing movies of 2022.
“The Kings of the World”
Director: Laura Mora Ortega
Colombia has submitted films to the Oscars 31 times since 1980, and “The Kings of the World” is the country’s first submission to be directed solely by a woman. (Cristina Gallego co-directed the 2019 submission, “Birds of Passage,” with Ciro Guerra, and is also one of the producers of “The Kings of the World.”) Laura Mora Ortega’s film deals with five young people from Medellin who go on a journey to reclaim land that has been taken from the grandmother of one of them.
“Domingo and the Mist”
Director: Ariel Escalante
An aging widower in the mountains of Costa Rica battles developers who want to use his land for a highway in the second feature from Escalante. The director of this atmospheric drama also represented Costa Rica in the Oscar race with his debut, 2017’s “The Sound of Things,” making him the second director to have two of the country’s 11 Oscar entries.
Director: Juraj Lerotic
This drama about a family trying to cope with a suicidal son won awards at the Locarno and Sarajevo film festivals. First-time director Juraj Lerotic also plays the main role, winning the award for best director at Locarno and for best actor at Sarajevo.
Director: Petr Vaclav
A year after submitting a film about its famous runner Emil Zatopek, the Czech Republic has entered one about the Czech composer Josel Myslivecek, the son of a miller who went to Vienna, composed operas and became a college and friend of Mozart’s. Director Vaclav first covered the story of Myslivecek in his 2016 documentary “Confession of the Vanished.”
“Holy Spider” *
Director: Ali Abbasi
Iranian-born, Denmark-based director Ali Abbasi (“Border”) set his film in Iran and shot it in Persian, but he could not film it in his home country because it depicts the true story of a serial killer who killed 16 women, mostly sex workers, and was celebrated by many in Iran for doing so. Star Zar Amir Ebrahimi won the best-actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her performance as a journalist investigating the killings.
Director: Ivan Herrera
A selection by the SXSW and BFI London film festivals in 2021, Herrera’s drama is focused on a French woman of African descent who escapes from a Dominican jail and becomes a surrogate mother to a group of kids in Santo Domingo. The film is the 15th Dominican submission to the Oscars, with the country still looking for its first appearance on the shortlist.
Director: Javier Andrade
A housewife descends into madness when she finds that everyone around her expects her to keep her severe postpartum depression to herself in this drama that in 2021 became the first Ecuadorian film to play the Toronto Film Festival in almost two decades. Andrade is now the first director to have two films submitted to the Oscars international race by Ecuador, which has entered films 11 times since 2000; he first represented the country with “Porcelain Horse” in 2013.
Director: Ove Musting
Estonia has submitted a rare sports movie to this year’s Oscars, with “Kalev” inspired by the Estonian national basketball team’s victory at the Soviet Union Cup tournament in 1991. Naturally, the film also deals with politics, because the USSR collapsed four months after that tournament, giving Estonia back its independence.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Girl Picture” *
Director: Alli Haapasalo
This coming-of-age film is set on three consecutive Fridays among a trio of teenage girls who work at a smoothie stand in the mall; TheWrap reviewer Fran Hoepfner called it “a thoughtful, funny and empathetic look at lives in flux.” Films from Finland have made the Oscars shortlist twice in the last seven years, including last year’s “Compartment No. 6,” but the country hasn’t been nominated since 2006.
“Saint Omer” *
Director: Alice Diop
Documentary director Diop makes her narrative debut with this drama about a novelist who attends the trial of a young Senegalese woman accused of killing her 15-month-old child. The film, which won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize – essentially, second place – at this year’s Venice Film Festival, was based on a real 2016 trial that Diop attended.
“A Long Break”
Director: Davit Pirtskhalava
When a man in his early 30s announces that he wants to have a class reunion after 15 years, his former schoolmates think it’ll be an occasion for nostalgia – but in this drama, the feature debut of writer-director Pirtskhalava, they don’t realize that the organizer has an ulterior motive. The first Georgian submission, 1996’s “A Chef in Love,” is the only one of the country’s 20 submissions to be nominated.
Subtitled 30-second scene
“All Quiet on the Western Front” *
Director: Edward Berger
The first German-language version of Eric Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel is a relentless, heartbreaking dive into the trenches of World War I – and it has added import that was missing from the novel and the 1930 Lewis Milestone film, because we know what we’re seeing will lead inexorably to the rise of the Nazis and to World War II. Massive, brutal and at times surprisingly beautiful, the two-and-a-half hour film is being released by Netflix in the U.S.
Director: Yorgos Goussis
Writer-director Goussis’ first narrative feature is a low-key character study with a twist: Its two main characters, Elena and Antonis (Elena Topalidou and Adonis Tsiotsiopoulos, who receive co-writing credit) meet on a ferry to a small island and spend their time on the island wandering the island looking for a place where Adonis can bury an ossuary box. Greece had three nomination in four years in the early 1960s, but since then has struggled to connect with voters, with 2010’s surreal “Dogtooth” its only nomination in the last 44 years.
“The Silence of the Mole”
Director: Anais Taracena
Documentary director Taracena examines the work of journalist Elias Barahona, who in the 1970s reported from inside a repressive Guatemalan government that held power through fraudulent elections. The film is the first documentary ever submitted to the Oscars by Guatemala, and only the fourth film overall – with a title that is similar to the country’s first submission, 1994’s “The Silence of Neto.”
“Where the Wind Blows”
Director: Philip Yung
Yung, who directed Hong Kong’s 2016 Oscar submission, “Port of Call,” is back with a crime drama starring Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Chiu-wai (better known simply as Tony Leung in the U.S.) as corrupt police officers in the 1960s. The film was shot in 2017 and originally scheduled for release in 2018, but its subject matter resulted in it being denied approval from the National Radio and Television Administration, delaying its release for years.
Director: Adam Toser
American viewers may find Hungary’s submission striking a chord, with this political drama dealing with a the 1990 election of a new prime minister whose first challenge is rising gas prices that have led to taxi drivers blockading the country in protest. Hungary has submitted a film to the Oscars every year since 1965, a 58-year streak that is second only to France; eight of its 10 nominations and one of its two wins came in the first 23 years of that streak.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson
Iceland has submitted some of the most intriguing and challenging films in the Oscar race in recent years, though its only nomination came more than 30 years ago. (“Lamb” did make the shortlist last year.) Gudmundsson was a producer on the 2019 Icelandic entry, “A White, White Day,” and he wrote and produced this drama about four teenage boys banding together in a Reykjavik gang in the 1990s.
“Last Film Show”
Director: Pan Nalin
The big news with India’s submission is that the country’s selection committee didn’t pick the worldwide sensation “RRR,” which seemed likely to be nominated. Instead, they’ve chosen a film that seems like a cross between Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” and Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light”: It’s a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a 9-year-old boy who decides to become a filmmaker after a summer spent watching movies in a once-grand movie theater.
Director: Bene Dion Rajagukguk
Writer-director-actor Bene Dion Rajagukguk, best known for his work on TV in Indonesia, mixes comedy and drama in this story of a family whose parents pretend to be fighting and on the verge of divorce in order to get their children who’ve moved away to come back home.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“World War III”
Director: Houman Seyyedi
The winner of the best-film and best-actor awards at this year’s Venice Film Festival, “World War III” is an absurdist black comedy about a laborer who is unexpectedly cast as Adolf Hitler in a low-budget movie. It was the unanimous pick of the Iranian selection committee, but comes at a time with the country is under fire for arresting prominent directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof and restricting freedom of expression, especially for women.
Director: Shawkat Amin Korki
Winner of the Fipresci prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2021, this drama follows a young woman whose only way out of an arranged marriage is to pass a university entrance exam; when her sister encourages her to cheat on the exam, the film expands to show a web of corruption. Director Shawkat Amin Korki previously represented Iraq in the Oscar race with “Memories on Stone” in 2015.
“The Quiet Girl” *
Director: Colm Bairead
Based on a 2010 novella by Claire Keegan, “The Quiet Girl” is focused on a 9-year-old child of neglectful parents whose life changes when she’s sent to live with distant relatives in the south of Ireland. Writer-director Colm Bairead is best known for his documentaries and TV work. The film won awards at the Berlin, Dublin and Taipei film festivals.
Director: Orit Fouks Rotem
“Cinema Sabaya” landed its status as Israel’s Oscar submission by winning Best Picture honors at the annual Ophir Awards. The film, a drama about a video workshop for Jewish and Arab women, also won awards for director Rotem and supporting actress Joanna Said, as well as for costume design and casting.
Director: Mario Martone
A man returns to his hometown of Naples after 40 years in Egypt and Lebanon in Martone’s drama about mothers and sons, gangsters and priests and a peculiar kind of longing for the past in a place where little has changed for hundreds of years. Francesco Favino won raves for his lead performance.
Director: Chie Hayakawa
Japan is the reigning champ in the Oscars international category, with “Drive My Car” taking the Oscar last year. Its followup is “Plan 75,” which won special mention for Cannes’ Camera d’Or for its depiction of a future Japan in which everyone 75 and over is encouraged to ease the country’s economic problems by euthanizing themselves.
Director: Darin J. Sallam
Writer-director Sallam, making her narrative feature debut, portrays the 1948 Arab-Israeli war through the vantage point of a 14-year-old girl who is locked inside her pantry as the violence erupts. The film is only the sixth to be submitted to the Oscars by Jordan, though 2021’s “Amira” was withdrawn about a month after its submission.
Director: Emir Baigazin
This year’s Toronto Film Festival saw the world premiere of this three-hour tech fable in which Yerkebulan Tasynov plays the CEO of a corporation that collects and digitizes family photos and videos, in the process doing selective enhancing and editing to please their clients. Then things go wrong, and the accumulated data is all completely lost.
Director: Andrew Kaggia
One of the most novel entries, and one of the most unusual for the international category, is this animated superhero adventure written, directed and animated by Andrew Kaggia. The film features a team of African superheroes who fight a wizard with the power to destroy Earth.
Trailer dubbed in English
“Looking for Venera”
Director: Norika Sefa
This marks the fourth time in the last five years that Kosovo has sent a film directed by a woman to the Oscars, the most of any country in that time. “Looking for Venera,” the debut feature from Sefa, is set in a remote village where a 16-year-old girl lives with three generations of her family. Most of the film’s actors are non-professionals.
“Home for Sale”
Director: Taalaibek Kulmendeev
A young man and his pregnant wife are deeply in debt and desperate to escape local loan sharks in this drama with an O. Henry-style twist.
Director: Viestur Kairish
In the spirit of “The Fabelmans,” “Armageddon Time” and the Indian Oscar submission “Last Film Show,” director Kairish draws from his own life in this story of an aspiring filmmaker. But where those other films dealt with childhood, “January” is set in 1991, with the lead character a 19-year-old movie lover in a town consumed by protests against an attempted Russian takeover. The film was named the best international feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Director: Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
The directors are artists who often use video, film and photography in their installations, with “Memory Box” making use of Hadjithomas’ teenage journals and tape and Joreige’s war photos in its story of a mother and daughter who receive a package of photos, notebooks and tapes from the mother’s teen years in Beirut. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in March 2021.
Director: Laurynas Bareisa
Four years after a man was kidnaped and murdered in a small Lithuanian village, the victim’s brother and his ex-girlfriend travel to the town to learn more about the crime. The film is the feature debut for writer-director Bareisa, who won numerous awards for his short films “Atkurimas” and “By the Pool.”
Director: Carlo Vogele
One of a handful of animated films in the Oscars international race, “Icarus” was inspired by the Greek myth of the young man whose hubris caused him to fly too close to the son and melt his wings. Director and co-writer Carlo Vogele also incorporates the story of the Minotaur, though in this telling the monster of mythology becomes a boy who is a close friend of Icarus.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” *
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Inarritu’s first film set mostly in Mexico since his 2000 debut “Amores Perros” and his first Spanish-language film in a dozen years, “Bardo” gives Mexico the only entry to be directed by an Oscar winner, and its release by Netflix makes it by far the highest-profile film in the competition. Reviews from the Venice Film Festival were mixed for Inarritu’s poetic, semi-autobiographical fantasia in which the lead character is a famous Mexican director living in Los Angeles. The director cut 22 minutes from its near-three-hour running time after the film screened in Venice and Telluride.
Trailer (no dialogue, just a Beatles song)
Director: Ion Bors
Moldova submitted its first two films to the Oscars in 2013 and 2014, but “Carbon” is its first entry since then. The black comedy is set around the early 1990s war that broke out as the Soviet Union dissolved, with the film’s lead characters a pair of men trying to identify and bury a body they find while on their way to join the military.
Director: Amarsaikhan Baljinnyam
Mongolian actor Amarsaikhan Baljinnyam (Netflix’s “Marco Polo”) makes his directorial debut in this drama about the friendship between a 10-year-old boy and a chef who returns to his village after his father dies. Baljinnyam also stars in the film.
“The Elegy of Laurel”
Director: Dusan Kasalica
The disillusion of a marriage leads a self-satisfied history professor into a fantasy world in the Montenegrin forest in Kasalica’s genre-hopping drama, which premiered at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2021. Montenegro first submitted a film to the Oscars in 2013, and has entered the race every year except one since then.
“The Blue Caftan”
Director: Maryam Touzani
Touzani became the first female director to represent Morocco in the Oscar race in 2019, when her film “Adam” was the country’s submission. She becomes the third director to represent the country more than once with “The Blue Caftan,” which explores formerly taboo LGBTQ themes through the story of a woman who hires a young man to work in the caftan store she runs with her closeted gay husband. The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.
“Butterfly on a Windowpane”
Director: Sujit Bidari
Bidari’s first feature focuses on the relationship between a 13-year-old girl who aspires to become a published poet and her 9-year-old brother who pushes her not to abandon her dreams. Two first-time actors, Kanchan Chimariya and Dinesh Khatri, play the lead roles.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Martijn de Jong
The feature debut for de Jong, whose previous films include a TV movie and some shorts, deals with a family who must deal with the disappearance and presumed death of the father, a professional diver. Actors Thekla Reuten and Fedja van Huet starred in Oscar-nominated films “Twin Sisters” and “Character,” respectively.
Director: Tearepa Kahi
Maori actor Cliff Curtis has won raves for his performance as an indigenous police officer whose quiet life is upended when his remote town is raided by police ostensibly looking for a terrorist cell. Writer-director Kahi has based the film on actual events and raids that have been taken place in Maori communities for decades.
“The Happiest Man in the World”
Director: Teona Strugar Mitevska
Oscar submissions from the Balkans often explore the wars that consumed that region in the 1990s, but Macedonian writer-director Mitevska finds a new approach through the story of a 45-year-old woman who is matched with a banker at a blind-dating event in Sarajevo. What begins as courtship turns into an excavation of a dark past and a war that cannot be forgotten. The film premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
“War Sailor” *
Director: Gunnar Vikene
Norway made the Oscar shortlist in 2016 with “The King’s Choice,” a drama about the German occupation of Norway in World War II – and this film tackles a different side of the same conflict through the characters of a pair of Norwegian sailors who are at sea when Germany invades Norway. Unable to return home, they’re essentially conscripted to deliver supplies for the Allied war effort. The two-and-a-half hour film is the most expensive in Norwegian history.
Director: Saim Sadiq
Co-writer and director Sadiq adapted this film from his 2019 short film “Darling,” winning Cannes’ Un Certain Record Jury Prize and Queer Palme for his story of an unemployed family man whose life is shaken when he lands a job as a backup dancer for a trans performer.
English-language interview with director (includes clips)
Director: Maha Haj
An entry in the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Maha Haj’s drama deals with an aspiring writer suffering from depression and a petty criminal who become unexpected friends while living under Israeli occupation. The director made a point of not accepting any Israeli money while financing the film.
Director: Arturo Montenegro
A birthday party for 45-year-old Jimmy (Albi De Abreu) takes a turn when the guest of honor announces to all his friends that he plans to take his own life before the end of the festivities. Montenegro also directed “Everybody Changes,” the 2019 Panamanian submission. The country is coming off its first appearance on the shortlist with last year’s “Plaza Catedral.”
Director: Paz Encina
Part documentary and part magical-realist reverie, this film finds a young woman wandering through a South American rainforest that is being decimated by deforestation. Although it is a hybrid of sorts, the film has also been submitted in the Oscars documentary race.
Director: Aldo Salvini
While South American entries often embrace mysticism and magical realism, “Moon Heart” heads into science-fiction territory with its story of a lonely old woman (Haydee Caceres) who pours out her soul to an ant and then encounters a robot who helps her. The film also includes stop-motion sequences as a tribute of sorts to Ray Harryhausen, the pioneer of that technique.
Trailer (no dialogue)
“On the Job: The Missing 8”
Director: Erik Matti
The 2013 Filipino crime drama “On the Job” wasn’t that country’s submission to the Oscars, but it led to a miniseries for HBO Asia and to this sequel, with a second sequel reportedly in the works. Following a journalist who investigates the disappearance of his colleagues, it premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where John Arcilla won the best-actor award.
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Skolimowsky, an 84-year-old icon of the Polish cinema, has been making films since 1960 without ever representing Poland in the Oscar race. This film, a bold riff on Robert Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar,” is shot from the point of view of a donkey traveling across the countryside in what is a sometimes brutal road trip; using adventurous techniques to put the audience inside the donkey’s head, it shared this year’s Grand Prix at Cannes with “Close.”
Director: Cristele Alves Meira
For her feature debut, director Alves Meira cast her own daughter as Salome, a 9-year-old girl who lives in France but returns to a mountain village in Portugal every summer. When the Salome’s grandmother dies, the girl begins to feel the presence of the dead woman, whom some in the village considered a witch. The film, which premiered in the International Critics Week section at Cannes this year, is Portugal’s 39th submission to the Oscars; the country has never even made the shortlist, a record for futility.
Trailer (no subtitles)
Director: Monica Stan, George Chiper
Ana Dumitrascu won the Lion of the Future award at the 2021 Venice Film Festival for this Romanian drama, in which she makes her feature debut as a young woman who goes into rehab for her heroin addiction after her boyfriend is sent to prison. The country’s selection committee chose this film over Cristian Mungiu’s “R.M.N.,” after years of submitting films from the auteurs responsible for the New Romanian Cinema (Mungiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Cristi Puiu) without ever being nominated.
Director: Mohamed Al Salman
Asem Alawad plays a young man whose best friend dares him to court a mysterious woman in this coming-of-age comedy. The first feature from director Mohamed al Salman, the film was a winner in the Daw Film Competition set up by the Saudi Film Commission to support rising Saudi filmmakers.
Director: Moussa Sene Absa
Senegal has only submitted four films to the Oscars, but the first two – 2017’s “Felicite” and 2019’s “Atlantics” – were both shortlisted. In this drama from director Moussa Sene Absa, who is also an actor, editor, visual artist and songwriter, a death sends a family into turmoil in a narrative seen from the point of view of a 15-year-old girl.
Trailer (no dialogue)
Director: Dusan Milic
Set in Kosovo during the early 2000s, in the stormy days after the Kosovo War, “Darkling” follows three generations of an isolated family, including a young girl whose letter about her missing father is read at the United Nations.
Director: He Shuming
It’s not just American movie and TV viewers and K-pop fans who’ve become obsessed with the pop culture of South Korea – so is the lead character in “Ajooma,” a middle-aged woman with a fondness for all things Korean. Actress Hong Huifang was nominated for best actress at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.
Director: Michal Blasko
Vita Smachelyuk and Gleb Kuchuk play a Ukrainian mother and son who are attempting to settle in the Czech Republic when the son reports that three Roma thugs assaulted him, ending a promising gymnastics career. But while the apparent assault stirs up racist and anti-immigrant feelings in the Czech town, inconsistencies in the son’s story lead Blasko’s film into more ambiguous, troubling territory. The film premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.
Director: Matevz Luzar
This black-and-white blend of comedy and drama follows a brass band from Slovenia who head to a festival in a small Austrian town. Plenty of things go wrong, but there’s always alcohol on hand to make things better.
Trailer (no subtitles)
“Decision to Leave” *
Director: Park Chan-wook
Director Park is one of the best-known filmmakers in this year’s international race, with previous films that range from “The Handmaiden” to the Vengeance trilogy (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy” and “Lady Vengeance”) to the TV miniseries adaptation of John le Carre’s “The Little Drummer Girl.” Typically stylish and dense, “Decision to Leave” is part crime story, part love story and part meditation on loss; it won Park the best-director award at Cannes this year.
Director: Carla Simon
The first Catalan-language film to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, “Alcarràs” is a drama that uses nonprofessional actors to play a family being pushed off the land where they’ve picked fruit for their entire lives. Simon previously represented Spain in the Oscar race with “Summer 1993” in 2017, with “Alcarràs” making her the first woman to direct two of the country’s submissions.
“Cairo Conspiracy” (formerly Boy From Heaven”) *
Director: Tarik Saleh
Former graffiti artist Saleh sets this drama in his father’s home country of Egypt, with his main character a fisherman’s son who travels to Cairo to pursue Islamic studies in a renowned university. The film explores the intersection of politics and religion and paints a damning portrait of corruption on all levels. It premiered in Cannes and was originally submitted to the Oscars as “Boy From Heaven,” but more recently changed its English title to “Cairo Conspiracy.”
Subtitled film clip
“A Piece of Sky”
Director: Michael Koch
Non-professional actors Simon Wisler and Michele Brand play a farmhand and a single mother who face tragedy in an Alpine village in Koch’s second feature after 2016’s “Marija.” The film received a special mention from M. Night Shyamalan’s jury at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival.
Director: Lou Yi-an
Inspired by newspaper accounts of random killings in Taipei, “Goddamned Asura” follows half a dozen young men and women – gamers, a reporter, an ad exec, a city official – whose lives are interconnected. Taiwan is still looking for its first nominated film not directed by Ang Lee (who has directed all three of its nominees, including its one winner, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).
“Tug of War”
Director: Amil Shivji
Tanzania’s first Oscar submission in 21 years is also only its second submission ever, after “Maangamizi: The Ancient One” in 2001. Director Shivji, a former journalist, adapted the film from Adam Shafi’s novel “Vuta N’Kuvute,” a love story between young rebels set in the 1950s in colonial Zanzibar. “Tug of War” was the first Tanzanian film to ever play the Toronto Film Festival when it screened at that festival in 2021.
“One for the Road”
Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya
A club owner in New York City returns to his homeland of Thailand to visit a friend who is dying of cancer in this drama that is separated into two chapters inspired by the A and B sides of a cassette tape. The film is the second Oscar entry for Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, who also represented Thailand in the race with 2013’s “Countdown.” It premiered at Sundance in 2021.
“Under the Fig Trees”
Director: Erige Sehiri
French-Tunisian director Sehiri is best known for the documentary “Railway Men,” but her narrative feature debut was well-received for its sensitive portrayal of the teenage girls and the older women who work the orchards during the Tunisian summer fig harvest. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2021.
Director: Tayfun Pirselimoglu
A man who travels to a small town for his father’s funeral witnesses a murder, and finds himself trapped in a town where the police won’t allow him to leave. And that’s just the beginning of a story that spirals into insanity in the 29th entry from Turkey, which has never been nominated despite submitting acclaimed films like “Three Monkeys,” “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” and “Winter Sleep.”
Director: Morris Mugisha
Uganda’s first-ever Oscar submission comes from Morris Mugisha, who is better known as an actor and reality star who represented Uganda in a season of “Big Brother Africa” in 2008. But two of his films, 2021’s “Stain” and this year’s “Tembele,” have won the top award at the Uganda Film Festival Awards; the latter film deals with a garbageman whose son has died.
Trailer (no dialogue)
Director: Maryna Er Gorbach
“Klondike” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, a month before Russia invaded Ukraine, but that invasion will no doubt lend urgency to this placid but brutal drama set in 2014 near the Ukrainian-Russian border. The film deals both with the Russian incursions that culminated in the annexation of Crimea that year, and with the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down by pro-Russian separatists. Oksana Cherkashina plays a pregnant woman who lives in the town controlled by separatists where the flight came down.
Subtitled teaser trailer
Director: Hassan Nazer
The second northern European film set in Iran to be submitted to the Oscars (the first being the Danish submission, “Holy Spider”), “Winners” deals with two Iranian children from an impoverished village who find a valuable statuette in the desert. Nazer’s film won the audience award at the Edinburgh Film Festival and is dedicated “to all the artists of Iranian cinema.”
“The Employer and the Employee”
Director: Manolo Nieto
This drama made the rounds of film festivals in 2021, beginning with the Directors Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival. The employer of the title is the owner of a farming business who is concerned about the health of his baby; the employee is a young man looking for work to support his own family.
Director: Lorenzo Vigas
Venezuelan-born, Mexican-based director Vigas’ “The Box” is part of a trilogy about Latin American fathers that also includes the 2016 Oscar entry “From Afar.” It follows a teenager traveling from Mexico City to northern Mexico to collect the remains of his father from a communal grave. The film was on a shortlist of five movies from which the Mexican Oscar committee was choosing that country’s Oscar entry, but Venezuela claimed it before Mexico held its own vote.
Director: Lương Đình Dũng
Lương Đình Dũng’s second film to represent Vietnam in the Oscar race, the first being 2017’s drama “Father and Son,” is an action thriller starring H’Hen Nie as a father who goes into the Vietnamese underworld to save his daughter. (Shades of a Liam Neeson movie or two.) The Vietnamese selection committee said that only four films met the requirements and were submitted for consideration this year.