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Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - Europe Part 1

Photo of Carlos Aguilar By Carlos Aguilar | SydneysBuzz August 31, 2014 at 7:42PM

Early predictions have emerged for most Academy Award categories. As the studios reveal their hopeful offers to be released in the final months of the year, the speculation increases. But despite all the information available on the centerpiece awards, other more obscure races remain a complete mystery at this point. Among these, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is almost certainly the most complex to prognosticate. Here is the first part of the list on Europe (Albania -Lithuania).
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Europe 1

Early predictions have emerged for most Academy Award categories. As the studios reveal their hopeful offers to be released in the final months of the year, the speculation increases. But despite all the information available on the centerpiece awards, other more obscure races remain a complete mystery at this point. Among these, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is almost certainly the most complex to prognosticate. The lengthy process that precedes the announcement of the final nominees makes for a competition that begins months in advance in nations around the globe.Having the opportunity to submit only one film, each country must carry out its own selection process. Once these decisions have been made, their chosen works will compete to make it to the nine-film shortlist, and eventually into the final five slots. Although this procedure allows for a certain degree of democracy, it also excludes all those other films that were left behind in their homelands. This, in turn, gives us a narrow view of what is being produced abroad.

Therefore, after lots of research and arduous educated guessing to put it together, the list below offers a more insightful look at this race before the actual individual selections are announced. For the sake of time, the amount of films is limited to five per country, but in some cases the choices are scarcer and less films are listed. While trying to speculate is always an uncertain endeavor, the factors taken into account to determine which are some of this year’s most important films in each country and their prospects of being chosen as their representative at the Academy Awards, were varied. Festival exposure, release date, the country’s previous submissions, and even the thematic elements of a few of them were considered to create this piece.

Clearly nothing is definitive at this point, but at the very least, this compilation will provide a sense of what the film industries in these territories are putting out and sharing with the world.

READ MORE: Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - The Americas

Here is the first part of the list on Europe (Albania -Lithuania)


ALBANIA

Last year the Balkan state had one of its strongest contenders in recent history, Robert Budina’s “Agon,” a powerful drama dealing with the ethnic identity of the region. This time around, there are three films that qualify to be selected. The front-runner is “ Amsterdam Express, ” which has the highest international profile of the three being a co-production between Albania, U.K The Netherlands and Germany. The film explores the sociopolitical situation of the country through the eyes of an Albanian man who immigrates to Dutch territory illegally. Following along are two other dramas, “The Last Wish” (Amaneti) and “Ada.” Having three clearly viable options, it is almost certain that Albania will compete once again this year.

1. "Amsterdam Express" PC: F&ME

Amsterdam Express

2. "The Last Wish" (Amaneti) PC: Media Vision

Amanet

3. "Ada" PC: Concordia Pictures

Ada

ARMENIA

Having submitted only four times as an independent nation, it is difficult to predict whether Armenia will decide to participate this year. However, they do have a few films that could represent them at the Academy Awards. Even though the country’s film industry is still precarious and struggling, they have their own annual awards and consistently complete feature length works. Since many of them don’t fulfill the quality standards of major festivals, few of their offers ever get passed their border. The most feasible candidate this year is “Tevanik,” a film about the Karabakh war that screened at the Cannes film market and that has also screened theatrically in its home country. Another possible selection is dark comedy “The Romanticists,” which won the Best Screenplay award at the Hayak National Cinema Awards and had some international exposure. Drama “From Two Worlds as a Keepsake, ” could also be a good candidate as it premiered last year at the World Film Festival in Montreal. Less likely are comedy “The Heart in the House ,” a Russian co-production, and Hayak Best Film nominee  “Caucho,” which might be a bit too avant-garde to be chosen.

1. "TevanikPC: Fish Eye Art 

Tevanik
2. "The Romanticists" (Rromantiknery) PC: Aysor-Plus Film Productions
 
The Romanticists
3. "From Two Worlds as a Keepsake" (Yerku ashkharhic i hishatak) PC: National Film Centr of Armenia


From Two Worlds as a Keepsake

4. "The Heart in the House" (Domik v serdtse) PC: Berg Sound

The Heart in the hous

5. "Caucho"

Caucho

AUSTRIA

Since Austrian productions are heavily influenced by the German film industry and often intertwined with it, it is no surprise that the major winner at the German Film Awards was the co-production “The Dark Valley.” But given that the director Andreas Prochaska is Austrian, as well as most of the creative control and resources, the Germans couldn’t claim it as their own. This, and the fact that Sam Riley is in it, make it an ideal, high profile candidate to be Austria’s Oscar submission. Nominated for five awards in the past Austrian Film Awards, “October November” is also a descent candidate. A close third followed is “The Last Dance” the latest film by Houchang Allahyari, whose film “I Love Vienna” represented the country a couple decades ago. Then we have “ Soldier Jane,” which also nominated for Best Film at the National Awards. Lastly, “The Silent Mountain, “ an epic period piece about World War I is not entirely far fetched. Other films that have had positive receptions at festivals such as “Macondo,” or “Amour Fou” will be released closer to the end of the year.


1. "The Dark Valley"  (Das Fisntere Tal)  ISA: Films Distribution 

The Dark Valley

2. "October November" (Oktober November) ISA: The Match Factory

October November

3. "The Last Dance" (Der letzte Tanz) PC: Allahyari Filmproduktion

The Last Dance

4. "Soldier Jane" (Soldate Jeannette) ISA: Premium Films

Soldier Jane
5. "The Silent Mountain" ( Der Stille Berg) ISA: Premiere Entertainment Group

The Silent Mountain


AZERBAIJAN

It's always great to see a country like Azerbaijan submitting a film and making an attempt at getting exposure for their filmmakers and industry. Their films rarely make it to the world stage of glamorous festivals, thus they remain mostly obscure and inaccessible outside their homeland. Nevertheless, this year an Azerbaijani film, “Nabat,” could change that as it will screen at the Venice Film festival. This war film has already screened in the country at least at a special event, it is difficult to know if it will qualify this time around. If it does, it is their best bet. Should they decide to save it for next year, the country has another option of mild prestige. “Chameleon,” a small drama set in a remote village, screened last year at Locarno and that alone could help its chances. Lastly, there is “Down by the River,” which was part of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival selection. It will almost certainly be released until past the deadline, but might be a strong contender in the future. Two other dramas, one of epic proportions and a biopic could get in the mix but there is hardly any information available besides the fact that they have been screened in the capital city of Baku.


1. "Nabat" ISA: Dreamlab Films

Nabat

2. "Chameleon" (Buqälämun) PC: Arizona Productions

Chameleon

3. "Down the River" (Axinla ashagi) PC: Azerbaijanfilm

"Down the River"


BELARUS

The small ex-Soviet state has been mostly producing documentaries for local viewing. Their output of material that can be successful abroad is minimal, and even when they have been presented with a great opportunity to participate at the Academy Awards, they simply don’t. This was the case of Sergey Loznitsa's “In the Fog” a couple years back, which could have represented them but was not entered. In fact, they have only participated on two occasions, the last one being in 1996. Although it is unlikely they will show interest, the country has a couple of promising choices. Belarus’ best bet would be the international coproduction “ The Role,” a solemn period piece that was nominated for five Nika Awards (the Russian Oscars) and actually won for Best Screenplay. Highly improbable, but given their small number of contenders, the country could also choose to send “BaBu,” an Azerbaijani coproduction about the kidnapping of a businessman’s daughter.

1. "The Role" (Rol) ISA: Reflexion Films

The Role

2. "BaBu"

BaBu

BELGIUM

With the return to Cannes of the country’s most iconic filmmakers, the Dardenne Brothers, Belgium has an easy decision to make. Starring Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” looks like the obvious favorite. Nevertheless, the Dardennes have been overlooked before, as it was the case two years ago when the Belgians decided to send “Bullhead” over the duo’s “The Kid with a Bike.” The only real threat could be “Marina” by Stijn Coninx, who was nominated for an Oscar in this category back in 1992 with “Daens.His latest work is a period piece about Rocco Granata’s life, an Italian singer who lived in Belgium in his youth. A more audacious decision, but not entirely impossible, would be to select the beautifully nightmarish “The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears,” which has had noticeable international presence. Two other titles, “ The Verdict” and “The Treatment” have been well received at home but since they are facing works by revered filmmakers, their chances are slight.


1. "Two Days, One Night" (Deux jours, une nuit) ISA: Wild Bunch

Two Days, One Night

2. "Marina" ISA: Media Luna New Films

Marina

3. "The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears" (L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps) ISA: Bac Films International

The Strange Color of your Body's Tears

4. "The Verdict" (Het Vonnis) ISA: Media Luna New Films

The Verdict
5. "The Treatment" (De Behandeling) ISA: Be for Films

The Treatment

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

The last film by the poster child for Bosnian cinema, Danis Tanovic, managed to make it to the 9-film shortlist last December. This year, the country doesn’t have such a prominent candidate. Based on release date, festival exposure, and language, their safest selection would be the family drama “ With Mom.” Another title that could qualify is “Krivina,” which is technically a 2012 film, but did not premier in Bosnia until late last year. If eligible, it would definitively be a great runner-up. In third place is the incredibly small local film “ Krajina: Life or Death,” and it’s in that position simply because it meets all the minimum requirements to qualify - language included. The last two films mentioned here are longer shots not due to lack of quality, but because of their production details. One, “Bridges of Sarajevo,” is an anthology film created by over a dozen filmmakers from around the world. Even though one of the filmmakers is Bosnian and all sections are in a language other than English, it will be hard to consider it an actual Bosnian film. The other, “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales,” is a Bosnian production directed by Jasmila Zbanic, but the dialogue seems to be mostly in English, which would make it ineligible.


1.  "With Mom" (Sa Mamom) PC: SCCA/PRO.BA

With Mom

2. "Krivina" ISA: Princ Films

Krivina

3. "Krajina: Life and Death" (Ja sam iz Krajine, zemlje kestena) PC: DEPO Production

Krajina

4. "Bridges of Sarajevo" (Les Ponts de Sarajevo) ISA: Indie Sales

Bridges to Sarajevo

5."For Those Who Can Tell No Tales" (Za one koji ne mogu da govore) PC: MPM

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales


BULGARIA

In recent years the country has decided to send films that have won or have been nominated for their local film awards. This year the winner of the top award for Best Film was “Alienation,” seemingly making it the favorite to be submitted. This might actually not be the case. Premiering at Sundance earlier this year, “Viktoria,” an epic drama about a peculiar mother-daughter relationship, might actually be the frontrunner. The film has been rightfully hailed as the most important Bulgarian film of 2014 as it has been praised at several international festivals. The only concern was its release date, but that has been put to rest since the filmmakers have announced a one-week theatrical run of the film in Sofia this September. This might imply they are seriously considering the possibility of being chosen. Other less likely options are “Roseville,” another Best Film nominee at the local film awards, “Rat Poison,” which won Best Screenplay at those same awards, and the comedy “ Living Legends.” “The Judgement,” another important Bulgarian film that opened the Sofia International Film Festival in March, won’t opened theatrically until after the deadline.

1. "Viktoria PC: Viktoria Films

Viktoria

2. "Alienation" PC: Red Carpet/ BNT


Alienation

3."Roseville" ISA: Wide

Roseville

4. "Rat Poison" PC: Bulfilm NFC

Rat Poison
5. "Living Legends" PC: Euro Dialogue Productions

Living Legends

CROATIA

Dominating last year’s Pula Film Festival with seven Golden Arena awards and presented at other international festivals, the drama “ A Stranger” is by far the most qualified choice. Bobo Jelcic’s film follows a man who returns to his hometown only to attend a funeral, but is forced to deal with several other issues from his past while there. Closely following is complex family drama “Hush…,” which also won several awards at the same festival. Other films that could come into play include “Vis-à-Vis,” a story about a film director and on his actor trying to write a screenplay, crime thriller “Not All About the Money, ”and the comedy “Handymen” by Dalibor Matanic, whose film “Fine Dead Girls” represented Croatia in 2002. It is important to note that three other relevant Croatian films, “The Bridge at the of the World,”  "Number 55” and “The Reaper,” will probably be released in the next few months and will be in the running next year.


1. "A Stranger"(Obrana i zastita) ISA: Rendez-vous Pictures

A Stranger

2. "Hush..." (Šuti) PC: Kinorama

Hush

3. "Vis-a-Vis" PC: Copycat Production House

Vis-a-Vis

4. "Not All About the Money"  (Nije sve u lovi) PC: Interfilm

Not all About the Money
5. "Handymen" (Majstori) PC: Hrvatska Radiotelevizija

Handyman


CYPRUS

As one of the few countries in Europe that has never submitted a film, it is likely they will continue on that path once again. Yet, if they decide otherwise, there is a film that could represent them. Crime drama “Stratos” directed by Cyprus-born Yannis Economides and produced with support from the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture could actually be the island nation’s lucky charm. Another Cypriot production, the romantic comedy “ Committed,” would be listed here as a possibility if it wasn’t for the fact that it is entirely in English.

1. "Stratos" (To Mikro Psari) ISA: The Match Factory

Stratos

CZECH REPUBLIC

Last year was rough for the Czechs. The ambitious historical courtroom drama “Burning Bush” by acclaimed filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, was disqualified as their submission because it was originally conceived as a TV miniseries. They were forced to select another film “The Don Juans,” which that didn’t do much them. This time around things are looking up with a wide array of films to choose from. Playing at Karlovy Vary recently and opening theatrically just in time to qualify is “Fair Play,” a sports drama about a sprinter attempting to make it to the Olympic Games in 1980. Then there is “Clownwise, ” a quirky dramedy that was nominated for Best Film and won Best Supporting actor at the local Czech Lion Awards. In the third spot is “Hany,” a film conformed of a single continuous shot depicting the madness occurring during a night out in the city. “The Way Out, ” a drama that screened in the ACID sidebar at Cannes, could also be picked based on that notable international exposure. Lastly, “Delight,” another Czech Lion Best Film nominee, could be the surprise selection, but it will probably prove to be a tad too abstract for voters.

1. "Fair Play" ISA: Intramovies

Fair  Play

2. "Clownwise" (Klauni) ISA: Latido

Clownwise

3. "Hany" PC: Barletta

Hany

4. "The Way Out" (Cesta Ven) ISA: Premium Films

The Way Out
5. "Delight" (Rozkos) PC: Cineart TV Prague

Delight


DENMARK

These days Denmark is a powerhouse in this category. After almost tasting glory once again with Vinterberg’s “The Hunt, ” the Danish will return to seek their third consecutive nomination. In order to continue their great streak, they need to choose wisely. “Someone in Love,” about a musician in crisis, has garnered praise from critics internationally, and will seem like the obvious choice. On the other hand, there is the mystery flick “ The Keeper of Lost Causes,” which opened in Denmark late last yearand was nominated for 4 Bodil Awards. Then there is “Sorrow and Joy” another powerful drama from Nils Malmros, whose film “Barbara” represented Denmark in 1992. Unique coming-of-age tale ”Speed Walking” could also be a contender. On the final slot there is the romantic drama “The Miracle,” a film that did well at the Montreal World Film Festival, unlikely but not impossible. Whichever it is, it will certainly be something to watch out for throughout the race.


1. "Someone You Love" (En du elsker) ISA: TrustNordisk

Someon You Love

2. "The Keeper of Lost Causes" (Kvinden i buret) ISA: TrustNordisk

The Keeper of Lost Causes

3. "Sorrow and Joy" (Sorg og glæde) PC: Nordisk Film Production

Sorrow and Joy

4. "Speed Walking" (Kapgang) PC: Nordisk Film Production

Speed Walking
5. "The Miracle" (Miraklet) PC: Film i Vast


The Miracle


ESTONIA

This Baltic country’s film industry has increasingly become more consistent at delivering interesting films. Winning awards across festivals, their absolute frontrunner is “Tangerines, ” a Georgian coproduction about a Estonian man caught up in the middle of a war. Its biggest competition is the black and white historical film “In the Crosswind,” “which is a viable choice given that it deals with a painful episode in the region's history: the mass deportation of Baltic people to Siberia by Russia. Though it looks beautifully done, its particular visual aesthetic might seem to unconventional to some voters. It is still really possible they decide to send it regardless. Finally there is “ Kertu” a romantic drama about an unlikely relationship.


1. "Tangerines" (Mandariinid) ISA: Cinemavault 

Tangerines

2. "In the Crosswind" (Risttuules) PC: Allfilm

In the Crosswind

3. "Kertu, Love is Blind" (Kertu) ISA: Paul Thiltges Distribution Sarl

Kertu


FINLAND  

Despite the countries long filmmaking tradition, the Finnish have only been nominated once for Aki Kaurismäki's “The Man Without a Past” in 2002. Fortunately for them, they have several great eligible films that will make for a difficult decision. Black and white philosophical drama “ Concrete Night” from Pirjo Honkasalo earned 6 Jussi Awards, given by Finland’s film professionals. Such overwhelming recognition will make it hard to ignore despite the serious competition. The film also had a great festival run. Right behind it are two films by prolific Dome Karukoski, who has represented his country at the Oscar previously. The first one is “The Grump,” a comedy based on the character created by Tuomas Kyro. It will screen at TIFF and will open locally just in time to qualify. Karukoski’s other film “Heart of a Lion,” tells a more serious story about a Neo-Nazi who reconsiders his views after falling in love. Either one of them could be picked as a way to honor the consistently great work this filmmaker puts out. Yet another interesting possibility is “Korso,” about a young man with big basketball dreams. The film was partially produced by the same company that created last year’s Oscar nominated short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” There are several other plausible films, but from all those, the one that seems to have the best prospects is the historical comedy “August Fools.”

1. "Concrete Night" (Betoniyö) ISA: Film Republic

Concrete Night

2. "The Grump" (Mielensäpahoittaja) ISA: The Yellow Affair

The Grump

3. "Heart of a Lion" (Leijonasydän) ISA: The Yellow Affair

Heart of a lion

4. "Korso" PC: BUFO/Tuffi Films

Korso
5. "August Fools" (Mieletön elokuu) ISA: Insomnia World Sales

August Fools


FRANCE

Narrowing down France’s possible selection to five titles is by far one of the must uncertain and difficult tasks. The French film industry releases a vast number of films every year in a variety of genres and sizes. This gives them endless possibilities. Yet, there are some indicators that provide insight to what they might end up choosing. First off, the Cesar Awards. This year’s big winner was Guillaume Gallienne's “Me, Myself and Mum, ” which is a delightfully funny film that shines with originality. It was released last November and could definitely be their selected entry. On the other hand, they could choose to honor legendary filmmaker Alain Resnais- who past away earlier this year - by submitting his last film “Life of Riley.” The film received mixed reactions, but won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Alfred Bauer Award in Berlin. If they want to go with some fresh young talent, there is Cannes Directors' Fortnight Winner “Love at First Sight, ” the debut feature by Thomas Cailley. Another award winner that qualifies is Katell Quillévéré’s “Suzanne” about a woman that loses it all for the love a deviant man. Last but not least, Mathieu Amalric’s latest directorial effort “The Blue Room” could be a surprise player given the actor’s prestige and talent both in front and behind the camera. It is still up in the air.


1. "Me, Myself and Mum" (Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table!) ISA: Gaumont

Me, Myself and Mum

2. "Life of Riley" (Aimer, boire et chanter) PC: F Comme Film

Life of Riley

3. "Love at First Sight" (Les Conbattants) PC: Nord-Ouest Productions

Les Conbattants

4. "Suzanne" ISA: Films Distribution

Suzanne
5. "The Blue Room" (La Chambre Bleue) ISA: Alfama Films

The Blue Room


GEORGIA

Impressively on the rise, the Georgian film industry keeps on delivering great works that often make waves across international festivals. Last year’s submission “In Bloom,” was a great success and managed to get U.S. distribution for a small theatrical release. On this occasion, they have three films that have done well internationally. Out of the batch, the most successful has been Levan Koguashvili’s “Blind Dates, ” a charming story of a unique quest for love. A second strong competitor is “Brides,” a drama that screened both at the Berlinale and Tribeca this year. Then, just fresh from winning at Karlovy Vary, there is “Corn Island,” a poetic vision of life from the perspective of rural Georgia. It appears like all three titles will release at home in time to qualify. If that’s the case, Georgia has a tough decision to make


1. "Blind Dates" (Shemtkhveviti paemnebi) ISA: Films Boutique

Levan Koguashvili

2. "Brides" (Patardzlebi) ISA: Rezo

"Brides"

3. "Corn Island" (Simindis kundzuli) PC: Arizona Productions

Corn Island


GERMANY

After releasing a 15-film shortlist, Germany’s prospects look clearer. There are several titles on the list that won’t merit a nomination, but the prominent film that remain will make for a competitive final selection. Winning two prizes in Berlin, “Stations of the Cross,” a look at fundamentalist Catholicism, sounds like a front-runner. However, its subject matter might play against it. Feo Aladag’s latest film “Inbetween Worlds,” about a German soldier in Afghanistan, seems to be a powerful drama on the vein of Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World.” On the third slot is “West,” a moving film about a woman and her son escaping socialist East Germany to discover the other side also has its darkness. Then there is “Beloved Sisters,” a costume drama that seems like a safer choice. It might be too familiar to be selected, but not at all improbable. Lastly, “Home from Home,” which won several national awards. It'ss possible, but its narrative style and extensive running time (225 min.) might make it a much more harder sell.


1. "Stations of the Cross" (Kreuzweg) ISA: Beta Cinema 
  

Stations of the Cross

2. "Inbetween Worlds" (Zwischen Welten) ISA: The Match Factory

Inbetween Worlds

3. "West" (Westen) ISA: Picture Tree International

West

4. "Beloved Sisters" (Die geliebten Schwestern) PC: Bavaria Film

Beloved Sisters

5. "Home from Home -  Chronicle of a Vision" (Die andere Heimat - Chronik einer Sehnsucht) ISA: ARRI Worldsales

Home from Home

GREECE

Even though it not an absolute rule, the Greeks tend to select the Hellenic Awards Best Film winner as their submission. Taking that into account, the clear favorite and almost certain choice is “Little England,” a period piece that won big locally. It’s biggest flaw; however, is the lack of international exposure. If for some reason they wanted to make a bold move and reward an impressive festival run, then Alexandros Avranas’s marvelously perverse “Miss Violence” would be ideal. Another great festival darling is Elina Psikou‘s feature debut “The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas,” a sardonic exploration on fame and identity. On the fourth spot, there is “ The Enemy Within,” a tense crime drama about a family in the aftermath of a home invasion. The film was also honored at the Hellenic Awards. Finally, “Standing Aside, Watching,” about corruption, sexism, and intimidation in a small village, could also be a great entry. Un Certain Regard film “Xenia” by Panos H. Koutras, won’t open in Greece until October, but will be a possible option next year.

1. "Little England" (Mikra Anglia) PC: Black Orange 

Little England"

2."Miss Violence" ISA: Elle Driver

Miss Violence
3."The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas" (I Aionia Epistrofi tou Antoni Paraskeva) ISA: M-Appeal World Sales
The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas

4."The Enemy Within"  (O Ehthros Mou) ISA: Patra Spanou

The Enemy Within
5. "Standing Aside, Watching" (Na kathesai kai na koitas) ISA: Patra Spanou

Standing Aside Watching


HUNGARY

Hungary’s last submission “The Notebook” managed to make it into the highly competitive 9-film shortlist. This year they have even brighter hopes with a slate of titles that have done very well around the world. Un Certain Regard winner “White God” is undoubtedly the one to beat. It is a rare occasion for the country to win such a high profile prize, thus making it almost impossible to ignore. Nevertheless, if that is not enough to convince the selection committee, “Free Fall” the latest film György Pálfi - whose films “ Hukkie” and “Taxidermia” have represented Hungary in the past - would be the next best choice. It also won several awards recently at Karlovy Vary, which could be of help. Less likely is Virág Zomborácz‘s “Afterlife” another drama that screened at the renowned Czech festival. Other possible titles include LGBT romantic drama “Land of Storms, “ which screened in Berlin, and dark “ “Heavenly Shift,” which descent international presence.

1. "White God" (Fehér isten) ISA: The Match Factory

White God

2. "Free Fall" (Szabadesés) PC: JIFF Project


Free Fall

3. "Afterlife" (Utóélet) ISA: Hungarian National Film Fund

Afterlile

4. "Land of Storms" (Viharsarok) ISA: M-Appeal World Sales

Land of Storms

5. "Heavenly Shift" (Isteni müszak) ISA: Hungarian National Film Fund

Heavenly Shift

ICELAND

This small Scandinavian nation seems to have a very easy decision to make. The film “Life in a Fishbowl” has been dubbed by local critics as “the best Icelandic” film ever made” and it has also been an absolute box-office hit in its homeland. The multi-narrative film is by far the most likely to be submitted. However, its closest competitor is Ragnar Bragason‘s “ Metalhead,” a drama about a girl coping with her brother’s death. It was released late last year and won several Edda Awards. With far less possibilities given the two frontrunners is the dramedy “Paris of the North, ” which screened at Karlovy Vary, and comedy “ The Grandad,” which lacks exposure and buzz.


1. "Life in a Fishbowl" (Vonarstræti) ISA: Films Boutique

Life in a Fishbowl

2. "Metalhead" (Málmhaus) ISA: Picture Tree International

Metalhead

3. "Paris of the North" (París Norðursins) PC: Arizona Productions

Paris of the North

4. "The Grandad" (Afinn) PC: Thorsson Productions

The Grandad


IRELAND

Since most of country’s releases are in English rather than in the Irish language, most years the country doesn’t have any candidates for this category. Ireland has only submitted to films for consideration as foreign language films. It is unlikely they’ll enter the race this year, but if it manages to be released in time, Irish director Johnny O'Reilly‘s Russian-language film “Moscow Never Sleeps” could be their selected candidate. The film was produced with the help of the Irish Film Funs, a fact that could help claim it as an Irish production. Another film in the Irish language, “An Bronntanas” (The Gift), would be a great choice, but it seems to be originally envisioned for TV as a five part miniseries. It’s hard to know if it will manage to qualify.

1. "Moscow Never Sleeps" (Москва никогда не спит) PC: Snapshot Films

Moscow Never Sleeps

ITALY

Returning as current champion, Italy - which is the most successful nation ever in this category – has two main contenders and a couple other minor players. At the top of the list is “Human Capital,” which beat out “The Great Beauty” at the local David di Donatello Awards. Added to that, the film has won almost every award at home and several others abroad. It would be shocking to see the film be ignored. The biggest threat to its flawless run is Cannes Competition film “The Wonders.” It received mixed reviews but the Cannes pedigree could play a big role. Local success “The Mafia Only Kills in Summer” is less likely to have a chance. However, it also received tons of praise at home, so it shouldn’t be entirely disqualified. “Misunderstood,” by Asia Argento, played in the Un Certain Regard section but faces tough competition. Rounding up these five possibilities is “Those Happy Years, ” a personal film by Daniele Luchetti, which received very positive reviews internationally.


1. "Human Capital" (Il capitale umano) PC: Indiana Production Company

Human Capital

2. "The Wonders" (Le meraviglie) ISA: The Match Factory

The Wonders

3. "The Mafia Only Kills in Summer" (La mafia uccide solo d'estate) ISA: Rai Com

The Mafia Only Kills in Summer

4. "Misunderstood" (Incompresa) ISA: Other Angle Pictures

Misunderstood

5. "Those Happy Years" (Anni felici) ISA: Celluloid Dreams/Nightmares

Those Happy Years


KOSOVO

The surprise submission could come from the recently independent, war-torn Balkan state. They have a promising feature film by Isa Qosja's “Three Windows and a Hanging,” which has been called “the best film from Kosovo to date.” Dealing with the forced silence and shame rape victims experience in a small village ruled by patriarchal norms, the film seems to be a perfect candidate to be their first submission. It recently premiered at the Sarajevo Film Festival, so its biggest challenge would be qualifying based on its unknown release date at home.


1. "Three Windows and a Hanging"

Three Windows and a hanging


LATVIA

Unfortunately for Latvia, their possibilities are extremely limited this year. There are only two films that seem as possible candidates. One is the slasher horror film “The Man in the Orange Jacket.” It sports a great production value and might be an interesting offer, but it is hard to see it get far in the race. Nonetheless, it is still their best chance. The other film "Escaping Riga" is a documentary on historical figures Sergei Eisenstein and Sir Isaiah Berlin. Given its subject matter it wouldn’t be surprising if they chose to with this. Hopefully next year their output gives them more to pick from.


1. "The Man in the Orange Jacket" (M.O.Zh.) ISA: Wide

The Man in the Orange Jacket

2. "Escaping Riga" PC: Mistrus Media

Escaping Riga


LITHUANIA


Opposite to its Baltic neighbor mentioned above, Lithuania has several notable films that could represent them. After winning the top prizes at the Lithuanian Silver Crane’ awards, “The Gambler” became the clear favorite. However, it is important to mention that despite having narrative features to choose from, Lithuania decided to send a small documentary to represent them last year. This curious fact could play in favor of “ Cenotaphs,” a doc focusing on the search for the remains of dead soldiers from World War II. The film won Best Documentary and was nominated in other categories at the local awards. Then there are three other Silver Crane nominated films. Coming-of-age flick “ Non-Present Time,” family drama “Santa,” and crime thriller “Name in the Dark.” The winner of several of these awards, “The Excursionist” was released too early last year to be considered this time around. Local financial success “Redirected” is mostly in English, thus ineligible.

1. "The Gambler" (Losejas) ISA: Wide

The Gambler

2. "Cenotaph" (Kenotafas) PC: Studio Uljana Kim
Cenotaph

3. "Non-Present Time" (Nesamasis laikas) PC: Just a Moment

Non-Present Time

4. "Santa" PC: Artbox

Santa

5. "Name in the Dark" (Vardas tamsoje) PC: Fralita Films

Name in the Dark


This article is related to: Oscars 2015 , Oscar Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film Submissions , Best Foreign Language Film Oscar , Cannes Film Festival, Cannes Market, Un Certain Regard, Directors' Fortnight, Berlin International Film Festival, Berlinale, TIFF, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca Film, Tribeca Film Festival, International, International Film, International Film Business, International Film Festival, International Film Sales, European Film Awards, European Commission

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