The deadline for countries to submit their entries for the Best Foreign Film Oscar is October 1, so expect the next month to be flooded with the news of selections being made for the respective countries. Right now there are three countries that have gotten things started early and announced their submissions for the 2011 Oscars. The Academy definitely has their group of favorite countries – Italy, France, Spain, Japan, Russia, etc. However, there are always the black sheep in the mix – countries who don’t often get nominated but release a hugely popular film in a given year.
The first countries to announce their nominations this year are Romania, Taiwan, and Iraq. Of those three countries only Taiwan has been on the Academy’s radar before with three nominations and one win for 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Taiwan will put their hopes for a fourth nomination behind Doze Niu’s Monga, a 1980s gangster film. The only Taiwanese filmmaker to ever get a film nominated is the Oscar magnet auteur Ang Lee. Monga is an unlikely contender, but it could flow with the Academy’s tastes.
Perhaps the most likely contender comes from Romania who submitted the Berlin Film Festival hit If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle. Not only did the film receive the second prize in Berlin, but Romania is arguably the most overdue country in this category. Their 2007 film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days was a critical darling and it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but it was snubbed by the Academy sparking outrage around the web. Their 2009 submission Police, Adjective was also well-liked around the film community, but did not make the cut. If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle could be their next major snub or it could turn into their first success.
Finally Iraq’s filmmaking community continues to grow with their 4th ever submission in this category. They have decided to go with the drama Son of Babylon, which played well at the Sundance Film Festival. None of their previous three submissions have been close to the Oscar, but this may be their best shot yet.
Stay tuned as Oscar Foreign Film submissions continue to pour in over the next several weeks.
[Source: In Contention]