Welcome to The Awards Circuit’s 2017 Foreign Oscar Guide. This weekly series will shine a spotlight on this year’s Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, looking at all 92 submitted films and their interesting trends and regional perspectives.
After a fruitful run that garnered four shortlisted films over the last three years, this year’s Foreign Language Oscar submissions from Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean enter the race with a noticeably lower profile. Films from the region were less prominent on the festival and awards circuit in 2017, compared to years past when films like “From Afar” and “Embrace of the Serpent” stole the headlines. But while the names associated with this year’s crop of submissions may be unfamiliar to Oscar voters, there is still plenty to like about the offerings.
Among the submissions are five debut features, including Kiro Russo’s “Dark Skull” (Bolivia), Iván Gaona’s “Guilty Men” (Colombia), Ariel Escalante’s “The Sound of Things” (Costa Rica), Ana Cristina Barragán’s “Alba” (Ecuador) and Arianne Benedetti’s “Beyond Brotherhood” (Panama). Meanwhile, Honduras and Haiti will make their first appearances in the Foreign Language Oscar race with Hispano Durón’s “Morazán” and Guetty Felin’s “Ayiti Mon Amour,” respectively. The latter is executive produced by Mira Nair (director of the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay!”) and tells a magical, multi-narrative tale set in the aftermath of an earthquake.
“Ayiti Mon Amour” is not the only film with Oscar pedigree attached to it. Canada’s epic submission “Hochelaga, Land of Souls” is directed by François Girard, whose 1998 film “The Red Violin” won the Oscar for Best Original Score. And in the case of Brazil’s representative, Daniel Rezende was personally nominated for his memorable contribution as the editor for “City of God.” Now stepping into the director’s chair, he hopes to bring home his first-ever Oscar for his biopic “Bingo: The King of the Mornings.”
Despite previous nominations, Mexico and Peru will also be seeking that elusive Oscar win. The former will be pinning its hopes on Tatiana Huezo’s documentary “Tempestad,” while Peru will have their fingers crossed for “Rose Chumbe,” directed by Jonatan Relayze. In comparison, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela will surely be happy to be nominated after numerous unsuccessful attempts. They will be represented by “Woodpeckers,” “Los Buscadores,” “Another Story of the World,” and “El Inca,” respectively.
And last, but certainly not least, respected Argentinian auteur Lucrecia Martel will bring some veteran prestige with her latest film, “Zama.” As previously discussed, she is joined by rising Chilean director Sebastián Lelio as the Latin American filmmakers with the strongest shot at an Oscar.
Contenders to watch: “A Fantastic Woman”