The German crowd-puller on a father-daughter relationship, Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, is one of the nine films that have made it to the short list for the Foreign Language Oscar. Indian entry and arguably the best work sent up in many years, Vetrimaaran’s drama about police brutality on hapless migrant labourers in Andhra Pradesh, Visaaranai (Interrogation, which premiered at 2015 Venice), did not make it.
The Phase One Committee of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, consisting of several hundred members based in Los Angeles saw the record number of 85 submissions in the Foreign Language Category this year. The screenings took place between mid-October and December 12.
This committee selected six movies, with the remaining three being handpicked by the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Panel.
The list of nine movies will be whittled down to the final five nominations -- which will be announced on January 24 along with those in other categories. The final list of five foreign nominees will be chosen after the nine films are seen by invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and London.
The list includes three movies from Scandinavian countries -- Hannes Holm’s Swedish work, A Man Called Ove, Martin Zandvliet’s Danish title, Land Of Mine, and Erik Poppe’s Norwegian entry, The King’s Choice.
Some of the other picks are Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (Iran), Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only The End Of The World (Canada) and Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise (Russia).
Films that were a hit with critics have been fallen off the race track. These are The Age Of Shadows (South Korea), Afterimage (Poland), Neruda (Chile), Elle (France), Julieta (Spain), Sieranevada (Romania) and The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki (Finland).
And, of course, Visaaranai. It was selected by a panel headed by Ketan Mehta and which was put together by the Film Federation of India. There were 29 movies in the running -- like for example Udta Punjab, Nil Battey Sannata, Thithi and Sairat. The number seems abysmally poor when one considers the huge Indian output of about 1300 films a year.
Visaaranai is the ninth Tamil work to have been sent up for the foreign Oscars -- since the award was constituted in 1956. The last Tamil entry was Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram in 2000.
Till date India has made it to the list of five nominees with Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan. But the Oscar never came the country’s way.
Last year, Laszlo Nemes’ Hungarian entry, Son of Saul, on a concentration camp episode clinched the Foreign Language Oscar.
This year’s Oscar ceremony will be held on February 26.
The shortlist of nine movies is:
Australia, Tanna, Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Canada, It’s Only the End of the World, Xavier Dolan
Denmark, Land Of Mine, Martin Zandvliet
Germany, Toni Erdmann, Maren Ade
Iran, The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi
Norway, The King’s Choice, Erik Poppe
Russia, Paradise, Andrei Konchalovsky
Sweden, A Man Called Ove, Hannes Holm
Switzerland, My Life As A Zucchini, Claude Barras