By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz November 16, 2013 at 11:22AM
Among all the national Oscar ® submissions for consideration, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will nominate 5 on January
16, 2014 to compete for Best Foreign Language Film. One of those five films will receive the Oscar ® for Best Non-English-feature at the Oscar ® Awards March 2, 2014 in the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
At this point (and I have not seen all the films yet), I predict the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar going to The Great Beauty,Child’s Pose or Gloria. Those are three of my four favorites thus far. The Past, while worthy most likely will not repeat Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar 2011 win for A Separation.
I am amazed to see that no Romanian film ever even made it to the 5 Nominations level and yet their films are internationally acclaimed and Child’s Pose carries on the tradition of great filmmaking that Romania has established in recent years. A scathing indictment of the complacent bourgeois nouveau riche classes in Romania, this film leaves no doubt in our mind of how far one can go to protect a really ugly new society. The very strength of the film may make it too “high-brow” for the Academy, although it did award another “high-brow” movie when the Oscar went to Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation in 2011, but at that time, there were political motivations as well for awarding the Oscar to a dissident Iranian. If Child’s Pose does not receive a nomination however, I will attribute that to my aforesaid judgement.
Child’s Pose producer Ada Solomon gave a speech at the Berlinale Awards Ceremony Closing Night where the film won The Golden Bear, which deserves an award itself. Starting with the comment that she is more used to fighting than to winning, she pointedly thanked not only those who helped her but also those who did not help her whose resistance to her making this film made her stronger and more powerful. She pointed out the great need to have equal representation of women in the ranks of directors and producers as well, a theme which has been expressed repeatedly during this festival in many forms. ( Read Melissa Silverstein’s blog on the joint meeting of women's films festivals initiated in Berlin by The International Women's Film Festival Dortmund|Cologone and the Athena Film Festival entitled "You Cannot Be Serious" in which women from many countries discussed the statistics and the status of women directors and other positions in the industry and continued the creation of a worldwide network pushing towards a more level playing field. Check out The International Women's Film Festival Network for more information).
Child's Pose , good in the vein of A Separation, went head to head in Berlin with the Chilean critic's choice, Gloria whose star Paulina Garcia, won the Best Actress Award. Could have gone both ways and so it could again for the Oscar. The two older women were both great.
Jay Weissberg of Variety describes Child's Pose best as a "dissection of monstrous motherly love" and a "razor-sharp jibe at Romania's nouveau riche (the type is hardly confined to one country), a class adept at massaging truths and ensuring that the world steps aside when conflict arises."
Regarding Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, one of my three favorites, it is masterful how Asghar Farhadi can take a simple domestic drama – divorce, remarriage, children, step-parents – and based on one simple miss-step (a white lie in A Separation and a forwarding of emails in The Past), he weaves a surprising and suspenseful web whose strands the audience only unravels after it has fully and seemingly effortlessly played itself out.
When I saw A Separation, the Iranian exoticism initially carried it forward, and it was only at its final note played that I realized a simple lie and a few misstatements caused the greatest grief for the most innocent player of the family’s drama. The daughter was left to suffer from the well-meaning white lies of adults and that was the ensuing tragedy of the film. In this film (The Past), it is the daughter who must bear the responsibility when things get complicated.
The story goes thus: Following a four year separation, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to Paris from Tehran, upon his estranged French wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo)'s request, in order to finalize their divorce procedure so she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his tense brief stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie's relationship with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Ahmad's efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past, and the highly charged revelations affecting every character in Mr. Farhadi's complex screenplay unfold with his trademark nuance. Once again he showcases his gifts as a masterful storyteller and director who elicits riveting performances from his cast.
The Past, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 20, 2013. After playing Cannes, it went on to play at Telluride, Toronto and AFI Film Festivals.
Not only did The Past win the Cannes Film Festival Prize for Best Actress (Bérénice Béjo), but Asghar Farhadi’s previous film A Separation won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011. For that reason alone, I do not think it will win the Award this year even if it makes it to the 5 top nominated films.
41 year-old writer-director Asghar Farhadi graduated with a Master’s Degree in Film Direction from Tehran University in 1998. He had won the Berlin Film Festival' Golden Bear for Best Director for About Elly. The Past is his sixth feature.
Argentinian-born and Paris-based actress Bérénice Béjo was last seen in her Academy nominated role as Peppy Miller in Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist directed by Michel Hazanavicius. Following her César-nominated breakout role in Gérard Jugnot's Most Promising Young Actress, Béjo made her American feature film debut in Brian Helgeland's A Knight's Tale, starring Heath Ledger. Béjo is currently in production on director Michel Hazanavicius' new film, The Search.
One of French cinema's young rising stars, Tahar Rahim is best known to U.S. audiences for his indelible performance in Jacques Audiard's A Prophet, for which he won both Best Actor and Best Male Newcomer Césars, as well as the European Film Award for Best Actor.
Review of The Past
I won’t reiterate my love for the inspirational and awesome film The Great Beauty because you can read about that in my
Interview with Paulo Sorrentino the Director of The Great Beauty
and for the fabulously self-affirming Gloria which you can read in my
Interview with Sebastian Lelio Director of 'Gloria' and Star Paulina Garcia
Below you can list of rights sold to all these four great films. Note who are the smart distributors buying these art films so that when you make such a film, you will know who will be watching. And for more rights to more films, buy the Rights Roundup Reports by SydneysBuzz for each great festival and market HERE.
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated | Running time: 130 min.
French and Persian with English subtitles
International sales by Memento sold to
Canada-Métropole Films Distribution
Canada-Mongrel Media Inc.
Denmark-Angel Films A/S
France-Memento Films Distribution
Germany-Camino Filmverleih Gmbh
Hong Kong (China)-Golden Scene Company Limited
Israel-Lev Films (Shani Films)
Korea (South)-Cac Entertainment
Serbia-Soul Food Distribution
Taiwan-Maison Motion, Inc.
U.S. – SPC/ Airlines – Penny Black Media
Zeitgeist Films is handling the U.S. theatrical release of Child’s Pose by Calin Peter Netzer. The film will open at Film Forum in New York on February 19, and at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles on February 21. A national release will follow.
Golden Bear winner at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, Calin Peter Netzer’s sharply crafted Child’s Pose pivots on a riveting performance by Luminita Gheorghiu (12:08 East of Bucharest; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; Beyond the Hills; The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, the role for which Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded her the Best Supporting Actress award) as a steely, well-to-do Bucharest architect determined to keep her 30-something deadbeat son out of jail after a deadly car crash.
MPAA Rating: Not yet rated. / Running time: 112 min.
Romanian with English subtitles
International sales by Beta Cinema sold to
Australia - Palace Films
Brazil - Imovision
Denmark - Camera Film A/S
Germany - Beta Cinema
Germany - X Verleih Ag
Greece - Seven Films
Italy - Teodora Film
So. Korea - Mediaday
Mexico - Cinemas Nueva Era
Netherlands - Contact Film
Norway - Film&Kino
Norway - Tour De Force As
Poland - Aurora Films
Poland - Transatlantyk Festival
Portugal - Alambique
Slovak Republic - Film Europe (Sk)
Spain - Golem Distribución
Switzerland - Filmcoopi Zurich Ag
Taiwan - Swallow Wings Films Co.,Ltd.
Turkey - Mor Film
The Great Beauty
Italian with English subtitles
International sales agent Pathe sold to
Australia Palace Films
Brazil Mares Filmes Ltda.
Canada Métropole Films Distribution
Denmark Camera Film A/S
France Canal +
Hong Kong Edko Films Ltd
Netherlands Abc - Cinemien
Norway As Fidalgo Film Distribution
Russia A-One Films
Slovak Republic Film Europe (Sk)
Switzerland Pathe Films Ag
U.K. Curzon Film World
Spanish with English subtitles
International sales agent Funny Balloons sold to
Australia Rialto Distribution (Australia)
Austria Thimfilm Gmbh
Canada Métropole Films Distribution
Colombia Babilla Cine
France Funny Balloons
Germany Alamode Film
Greece Strada Films
Israel New Cinema Ltd.
Italy Lucky Red
Korea (South) Pancinema
Netherlands Wild Bunch Benelux
Sweden Atlantic Film Ab
Switzerland Filmcoopi Zurich Ag
Turkey Bir Film
U.S. Roadside Attractions