Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oscar Submissions From Latin America (and Spain)

As promised, here's the list of films submitted by Latin American countries to the 2010 Academy Awards' Foreign Language Film category. Even though the deadline for submissions was October 1st, the Academy of Motion Pictures has yet to release a final list. Without the official list, it's still hard to ascertain whether Puerto Rico will participate this year, or opt out like it did last year. The complete absence of competitive films by Puerto Rico in the festival circuit this year leads me to believe that they will once again choose to stay out of the competition. So sad for my home country.

Turning our attention to the films on the list, I cannot get over the fact that Chile did not nominate "La nana" ("The Maid"). After winning the World Competition at Sundance and garnering honors at worldwide fests throughout the year, it was the obvious choice. But no, Chile chose "Dawson, Isla 10" ("Dawson, Island 10"), the true story of political dissents who were sent to a tiny island in the Atlantic and endured hellish conditions 35 ago. I haven't seen it, but it strikes me as Chile choosing convention over quality. "La nana" is one of the most original, beautifully directed and acted films I've seen this year and I just can't imagine "Dawson" can be as good. By the way, "La nana" opens in the U.S. on October 16th. I'll be publishing a review around that time. And without further ado, here's the list:

Argentina - EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS (THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES), directed by Juan José Campanella

Bolivia - ZONA SUR (SOUTHERN ZONE), directed by Juan Carlos Valdivia

Brazil - SALVE GERAL, directed by Sergio Rezende

Chile - DAWSON, ISLA 10 (DAWSON, ISLAND 10), directed by Miguel Littín

Colombia - LOS VIAJES DEL VIENTO (THE WIND JOURNEYS), directed by Ciro Guerra

Mexico - EL TRASPATIO (BACKYARD), directed by Sabina Berman

Peru - LA TETA ASUSTADA (THE MILK OF SORROW), directed by Claudia Llosa

Spain - EL BAILE DE LA VICTORIA (THE DANCER AND THE THIEF), directed by Fernando Trueba

Uruguay - MAL DIA PARA PESCAR (BAD DAY TO GO FISHING), directed by Alvaro Brechner

Venezuela - LIBERTADOR MORALES, EL JUSTICIERO, directed by Efterpi Charalambidis

The last Latin American (or Spanish) film nominated in the Foreign Film Category was "El Laberinto del Fauno" ("Pan's Labyrinth") in 2007. Mexico's entry did not take home the award that year. If I had to make a prediction, I would say that without "La nana" on the list, it will be hard for Latin America to get a nod this year. The film that has the best chance, in my opinion, is "La teta asustada." It's the kind of well-made, politically correct film the Academy likes to reward but it might prove to be too sober and low key for them - they often choose bigger, heartfelt dramas like last year's "Departures."

One curious parting note... Taiwan nominated a film with a Spanish title: "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti" ("I Can't Live Without You"), directed by Leon Dai. It's a black and white film set entirely in Taiwan and concerns a man who struggles to raise his child as a single parent. None of the articles or reviews I read explained the origin of the title.