The country of Belarus kicked off the foreign language film race for the 2019 Oscar on Saturday. With the announcement of “Crystal Swan” as it’s official submission, Belarus breaks a 22-year hiatus from the Oscars. The film is the debut for director Darya Zhuk and has already begun making rounds at film festivals around the world. The announcement of the submission occurred at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.
The synopsis from IMDB is as follows:
In 1990s Belarus, a wanderlust young DJ is derailed by a typo in a forged US Visa application, forcing her to a backwater village where she is determined to fake her way to the American dream.
The film could gain a strong narrative as Belarus’ first submission in over 20 years. Zhuk is also a woman, and while this is her debut film, she has many American connections after attending Harvard. However, the lack of a prestige drop at a major festival will likely hurt the film. If the film premiered at Venice or Cannes, there might be more going for the film at this time. Second, considering that Belarus has not submitted a film in past two decades, it is also unlikely that many will see the country as a contender.
While Belarus has been out of the Oscar game for some time, it is always exciting to see a new country join the fray. With an interesting concept and a first-time director, this film could make waves. With the announcement of “Crystal Swan,” it is likely we’ll find many more films announced in the coming months for foreign contention. It seems like “Crystal Swan” will just be the start of the 2019 Foreign Language Oscar race.