Monday, October 11, 2010

The Foreign Film List Grows: Miki's Endurance, Maria's Acclaim

63 countries have now announced their Oscar submissions. Last year we had 65 films and the most ever, if my data is correct, was 2008 in which 67 countries competed for the coveted 5 slots. (If 10 is the number for Best Picture, shouldn't the corresponding prize for subtitled features, also be 10? ) In other words, numbers-wise, we're just about finished. The deadline has already passed but some countries are quiet about their submissions. The "official" official list will arrive any minute now... or next week depending on the speed with which AMPAS does their paperwork. Soon is the point.

A naked blue moment from Puerto Rico's Miente a.k.a. Lie. Spanish is the
language to know in this category. 11 of the 63 entries are in Spanish!

I've updated all the pages so you can see the info. The major contending countries, those frequently in the hunt, have all announced their representative films.
I wanted to highlight two important actors in this year's field.
    First, we have to note the presence of the 60 year old actor Miki Manojlovic (pictured left). He is the star of two of the submissions this year: Bosnia's Cirkus Columbia and Serbia's Solemn Promise (also known as Besa). If headlining two of the 60+ submissions isn't enough of a mark of border-crossing popularity, consider that he also appeared in last year's finalist from Bulgaria The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner, Serbia's submission from 2007 The Trap and 25 years ago he was part of the Oscar nominated Yugoslavian hit When Father Was Away on Business back when subtitled films used to have long theatrical runs. (Sigh. Good times.) If he looks familiar to you you may have seen him in an Emir Kusturica picture (he's made a few) or in François Ozon's Criminal Lovers.

    I also wanted to note the presence of Norway's Maria Bonnevie. She was born in Sweden to Norwegian actors and grew up in Norway. But today she a star of international cinema. She's another face that should be growing familiar to festival audiences and the voting body of this particular Oscar branch. She's headlined a past Oscar submission, Denmark's Reconstruction (2003), and won various best actress citations for I am Dina (2002). She starred in the Russian film The Banishment (2007) for the acclaimed director Andrei Zvyagintsev. She's representing Norway this year with Engelen in which she plays a drug addict mother.  I am ashamedly (mostly) unfamiliar with her which I can't quite figure out as I love Scandinavian cinema and I have heard of many of her titles. She hasn't really crossed over or 'gone Hollywood' as some international beauties do (and directors, too, actually) once they make a name for themselves at home. But she did appear in that odd Antonio Banderas Viking picture The 13th Warrior (1999) which I have very foggy memories of and you may have also seen her, as I did, in the terrific Norwegian thriller Insomnia (1997).  Yep, the one that Christopher Nolan remade quickly (The Let The Right One In to Let Me In trajectory has happened over and over again in the history of cinema)

    Left to right: The Polar Bear King was one of her earliest pictures; Insomnia
    wowed critics and then got remade; romancing Film Experience favorite
    Nikolaj Lie Kass in Oscar submission Reconstruction; and The 13th Warrior.

    Left to right: Best Actress wins for I Am Dina; the Russian film Banishment;
    addiction drama Engelen, Norway's current Oscar submission.

    Just looking at stills from her filmography makes me assume she's like the Nordic Cate Blanchett. She's a few years younger but she looks similarly dramatically versatile is what I'm saying.

    Three Questions For You:
    1. Are you a fan of Bonnevie or Miki? 
    2. Which of the 60+ submissions are you anxious to see in the unfortunately distant future?
    3. Are you proud of yourself for being fluent in Spanish right about now? I'm jealous!

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