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Good News: Many Films Directed by Women are Being Submitted for Academy Awards for Foreign Films

by Melissa Silverstein
September 22, 2011 2:01 AM
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Something good is going on this year and I've been watching it for the last couple of weeks. The news is that many countries have submitted films directed by women for Academy Award consideration for best foreign film. Only two women -- both Europeans -- have won the foreign film Oscar, one was just last year, Susanne Bier for In a Different World and the other was Agnieszka Holland for Europa Europa. Last year a total of eight films directed by women were submitted.

The submissions are due by October 1st and as of this date we have 8 9 -- directed by women. But, not all the countries have submitted their films yet. Last year 65 countries submitted. Right now just 31 have submitted. A long list of the ones that make the cut is the next step followed by the nominations in January 2012.

This trend has not gone unnoticed by others. Peter Knegt my colleague over at IndieWIRE posted a piece and here are his thoughts of what he has been noticing:

"It's kind of amazing. Over a third of the announced submissions are directed by women. And this coming off a year when a female-directed film won the foreign language Oscar. It just goes to show that female directors are often far more prevalent in other parts of the world when compared to America."

And if you look at the countries you will also notice that most of the female directors of the submitted films are from Europe.

The films submitted so far that are directed by women are:

France -Valérie Donzelli’s “Declaration of War”
Norway - Anne Sewitsky’s “Happy Happy”
Poland - Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness”
The Netherlands - Maria Peters’s “Sonny Boy”
Greece - Athina Rachel Tsangari's "Attenberg"
Ireland - Juanita Wilson's "As If I Am Not There"
Lebanon - Nadine Labaki's "Where Do We Go Now?"
Sweden - Pernilla August's "Beyond"
Hong Kong - Ann Hui's "A Simple Life"

I've seen In Darkness, Attenberg, As If I Am Not There and Where Do We Go Now? I also have the DVD for Happy Happy which is in theatres now. In Darkness directed by Holland premiered in Toronto and will be release by Sony Pictures Classics. Attenberg has been playing the festival circuit and is a favorite of mine. As If I Am Not There is a brutal look at rape as a weapon of war during the Bosnian conflict and Where Do We Go Now? -- which I have written about recently -- about how the women of a town in Lebanon say no more to sectarian skirmishes between the men of their town.

I'm going to try and use this list as a primer and see as many of these that I can.

(Disclaimer: trying to check and confirm all the names but some times that is hard so I might get a couple wrong. Please let me know if I make a mistake.

Updated List of Foreign Language Academy Award Submissions (IndieWIRE)

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  • Marian | September 22, 2011 12:10 PMReply

    Wonderful news, and I'm thrilled that you're tracking this, Melissa.

    BUT: "It just goes to show that female directors are often far more prevalent in other parts of the world when compared to America" is way off. The most that anyone can say is that THIS YEAR, women directors are doing well in the Foreign Language Oscar stakes, and speculate why this is. Is it just a blip? Or not? May any and all improvement become embedded!

  • A.D. | September 22, 2011 3:46 AMReply

    I've noticed this trend too! I'm sure there will be a record this year.

    You can add Hong Kong's Ann Hui to the list.....Her "A Simple Life" got added to the list today, and I strongly suspect Denmark's "A Family" by Pernille Christensen will be added tomorrow.

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