We are looking for upwards of 65 total submissions for Oscar’s list of Foreign Language contenders and we are inching closer as I have just added 18 more titles to the list bringing the total up to 40. Today I added submissions from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Israel, Peru, Slovakia, South Africa and Vietnam along with China’s submission of Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War starring Christian Bale.
Yimou, as I’m sure most of you know, is best known for helming House of Flying Daggers and Hero and with Flowers of War he’s working from an adaptation of Geling Yan’s novel “13 Flowers of Nanjing,” centering on the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands of Chinese citizens in what was then the nation’s capital in 1937. Bale plays John Haufman, an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls.
Another high profile entry is Mexico’s Miss Bala, which I simply can’t seem to see after missing it at Cannes and Toronto (the latter is a story I don’t want to get into) and have been told Fox International is keeping a tight grip on screeners, which means those New York and L.A. screenings I’ve been invited to are my only options, but living in Seattle makes it a bit tough.
Miss Bala has been impressing audiences everywhere it plays as it was inspired by the real-life story of a beauty queen who was arrested with gang members in 2008, although in this case the tale takes an even darker turn when aspiring beauty queen Laura (Stephanie Sigman) finds herself caught up in a massacre at a nightclub, is kidnapped by a cartel and forced to work for drug lord Lino (Noe Hernandez). Here’s an international quad that debuted at Empire:
Other new films I recognize, but haven’t seen, are Israel’s Footnote, of which I heard mixed things walking around Cannes and Brazil’s submission of Jose Padilha’s Elite Squad 2 (I just recently watched the first one).
Afghanistan to France
Georgia to Morocco
Netherlands to Venezuela