Friday, November 17, 2006


Evening Class contributing writer Michael Hawley has gathered together the final list of the films submitted for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. This has been of major interest to both of us as we will be attending January's Palm Springs Film Festival where so many of these foreign entries will be screened. Input would be welcome on which films I absolutely shouldn't miss.

The 2006 submissions are:

Algeria, Days of Glory, Rachid Bouchareb, director;
Argentina, Family Law, Daniel Burman, director;
Australia, Ten Canoes, Rolf de Heer, director;
Austria, You Bet Your Life, Antonin Svoboda, director;
Bangladesh, Forever Flows, Abu Sayeed, director;
Belgium, Someone Else's Happiness, Fien Troch, director;
Bolivia, American Visa, Juan Carlos Valdivia, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Grbavica, Jasmila Zbanic, director;
Brazil, Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures, Marcelo Gomes, director;
Bulgaria, Monkeys in Winter, Milena Andonova, director;
Canada, Water, Deepa Mehta, director;
Chile, En la Cama, Matiaz Bize, director;
China, Curse of the Golden Flower, Zhang Yimou, director;
Colombia, A Ton of Luck, Rodrigo Triana, director;
Croatia, Libertas, Veljko Bulajic, director;
Cuba, El Benny, Jorge Luis Sanchez, director;
Czech Republic, Lunacy, Jan Svankmajer, director;
Denmark, After the Wedding, Susanne Bier, director;
Egypt, The Yacoubian Building, Marwan Hamed, director;
France, Avenue Montaigne, Daniele Thompson, director;
Germany, The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director;
Greece, Chariton's Choir, Grigoris Karantinakis, director;
Hong Kong, The Banquet, Feng Xiaogang, director;
Hungary, White Palms, Szabolcs Hajdu, director;
Iceland, Children, Ragnar Bragason, director;
India, Rang De Basanti, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, director;
Indonesia, Love for Share, Nia Dinata, director;
Iran, Transit Cafe, Kambozia Partovi, director;
Iraq, Dreams, Mohamed Al-Daradji, director;
Israel, Sweet Mud, Dror Shaul, director;
Italy, Golden Door, Emanuele Crialese, director;
Japan, Hula Girls, Sang-il Lee, director;
Kazakhstan, Nomad, Sergei Bodrov, Talgat Temenov, Ivan Passer, directors;
Korea, King and the Clown, Lee Jun-ik, director;
Kyrgyzstan, The Wedding Chest, Nurbek Egen, director;
Lebanon, Bosta, Philippe Aractingi, director;
Lithuania, Before Flying Back to Earth, Arunas Matelis, director;
Macedonia, Kontakt, Sergei Stanojkovski, director;
Mexico, Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, director;
Morocco, The Moroccan Symphony, Kamal Kamal, director;
Nepal, Basain, Subash Prasad Gajurel, director;
The Netherlands, Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, director;
Norway, Reprise, Joachim Trier, director;
Peru, Madeinusa, Claudia Llosa, director;
Philippines, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, Auraeus Solito, director;
Poland, Retrieval, Slawomir Fabicki, director;
Portugal, Alice, Marco Martins, director;
Puerto Rico, Thieves and Liars, Ricardo Mendez Matta, director;
Romania, The Way I Spent the End of the World, Catalin Mitulescu, director;
Russia, 9th Company, Fyodor Bondarchuk, director;
Serbia, Tomorrow Morning, Oleg Novkovic, director;
Slovenia, Gravehopping, Jan Cvitkovic, director;
Spain, Volver, Pedro Almodovar, director;
Sweden, Falkenberg Farewell, Jesper Ganslandt, director;
Switzerland, Vitus, Fredi M. Murer, director;
Taiwan, Blue Cha Cha, Cheng Wen-tang, director;
Thailand, Ahimsa Stop to Run, Leo Kittikorn, director;
Turkey, Ice Cream, I Scream, Yuksel Aksu, director;
Ukraine, Aurora, Oxana Bayrak, director;
Venezuela, Maroa, Solveig Hoogesteijn, director;
Vietnam, Story of Pao, Ngo Quang Hai, director.

In addition to the above, Michael Hawley has informed me, Finland submitted Aki Kaurismaki's Lights in the Dusk, which the director subsequently indicated he wanted to withdraw from the competition. Foreign Language committee chair Mark Johnson has initiated a dialogue with Kaurismaki in an effort to persuade him to reverse that decision.


Brian Darr said...

That's great that you both will be attending Palm Springs! I always notice a pile of intriguing looking films that play there but never make it here. One year I'd like to go myself- not this one though.

I have no informed input on which films on this list are must-sees, as I've seen none of the films that you haven't seen yourself. I always am drawn to films from Japan, Korea and Thailand though. And of course I can't wait to see the Black Book.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for the list.

My three not to be missed suggestions are "The Lives of Others", "King and the Clown" and "Alice".

If you can only see one, make it the "Lives of Others". Total brilliance.

Paul Martin said...

I would highly recommend Ten Canoes (Australia) as a very unique, culturally interesting, funny and engaging film.

I found Deepa Mehta's Water OK, but wouldn't consider it a high priority.

The Philipines' The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros is raw film-making (low budget) but emotionally engaging. It wasn't a highlight for me at Melbourne International Film Festival.

Paul Martin said...

Not on your list, but films that were highlights for me at MIFF were:
Em4Jay, Australia
Gabrielle, France
Climates (Iklimler), Turkey
Fallen (Krisana), Latvia
Be With Me, Singapore

Michael Guillen said...

Thanks for the comments and recommendations, folks! Someone on the WELL was saying that he felt the Palm Springs Film Festival was missable because so many of the films screened there show up at our SF International; but, the inverse holds true as well. So many of them do NOT show up at the SF International. And besides, why wait until then? I, too, am looking forward to THE BLACK BOOK.

Marina, I'll be seeilng THE LIVES OF OTHERS at a press screening in early December. I've heard nothing but good things about it and am really looking forward to that opportunity. Don't know about THE KING AND THE CLOWN and ALICE; but sincerely appreciate your heads up.

Paul, I saw TEN CANOES at the Toronto International. If you click on the title, it will take you to my review. We concur on the film's entertainment value. WATER I've also seen and had the great fortune to interview Deepa Mehta. I've missed THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS twice now so I guess should make some kind of effort to see it in Palm Springs.

Of your MIFF list, I enjoyed GABRIELLE when it was at our SF International. Missed CLIMATES in Toronto but anticipate seeing it someday. The others I'm not familiar with so thanks for bringing them to my attention.

Anonymous said...

I only saw five on the list:

"The Lives of Others"
"King and the Clown"
"The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros"

I agree that Singapore should submit an exellent film "Be with Me."

Karsten said...


Nice list - I can report from Scandinavia that Norway's contribution "Reprise" by Joachim Trier, is a stunning and original film that is one of the most engaging and true portraits of friendship that I've seen. It received a major award in both Karlovy Vary and Toronto. There's some english language reviews around, I think Twitch had a very positive write-up on it back around TIFF.

Keep your eyes open for "Reprise".

Michael Guillen said...

Thanks, Koola, I definitely will!

Marina said...

Hey, it's wonderful to finally see this list! Here, in Bulgaria, people are talking about our firtst submission in so many years and here it is... It's wierd. :)

Anyway, I must defend "Monkeys in the winter" and genuinely recommend it. First, it's the debute film of one of our best directors' daughter - Milena Andonova and Metodi Andonov (father), best known for the classic Bulgarian film "The Goat Horn" ( Also, the screenwriter, Maria Stankova is one of our current most active in film and theatre writers. So, the film is entirely the result of something that has been kept closed for years and now with the revival of Bulgarian culture - freed and fed with life. This life comes from Diana Dobreva - a theatre director and actress, an experimenter, a person of great knowledge and energy and also, a part of the most daring experimental theatre here today - Theater-laboratory 'Sfumato' ( The film, together with our other pride 'Christmas Tree Upside Down'(, won awards at Karlovy Vari and are practically, considered the Jesus Christ of our "slightly-dead" cinema.

Now, a bit about the film itself. I only had the chance to see it last night (at a festival, of course. Bulgarian films are almost never screened in regular screenings) and still can't shake myself off this gloomily optimistic feeling that could be very well sensed through the camera (it is very specifically and unusually coloured; the cinematographer is also the one of 'Christmas Tree Upside Down' - Rali Raltschev - and probably because of that these two films look very much alike). The plot is unfolded in three stories of three successive generations; three stories that seem to go their own ways, but end up the same.
Trivia!: The actress who plays Dona - Bonka Ilieva-Boni - is not an actress but a great Bulgarian gipsy singer with a wonderful voice; She's easily recogniseable since she sings almost all the time. :)
It is also interesting to note that both "Monkeys" and "Christmas Tree" are films, composed of a number of stories that interweave in the end.
Personally, I prefer "Monkeys" and am glad that they submitted it. Hopefully, many people will have the chance to see it. Throughout the film, a documentary is playing on the characters' TV sets, which noone seems to watch (except we!). This documentary, depicting the survival of monkeys in the winter, was the title-trigger for screenwriter Maria Stankova. In an interview, she said we all are like monkeys in the winter: desperately trying to survive, no matter the price! But I like the line of one of the characters better: he said we're worse than monkeys - and more stupid - because they, at least, no matter what happens take care of their children.

I strongly recommend this film to anyone who has the chance to see it. It's not - only! :) - a patriotic drive, but also I consider this film, together with "Christmas Tree", a phenomenon that hasn't occured here quite some time. It's sincerely new and yet remains Bulgarian and humane. Although some of the acting is not so good, it is energetic and you can see they are all struggling, living and trying to make it alive. It is very personal acting for everyone, or so it seems to me.

Oh, well.:)

Michael Guillen said...

What a wonderful recommendation, Marina, eloquent as ever, and I will definitely make a point of catching MONKEYS IN THE WINTER. Thank you so much for your firsthand account.

Anonymous said...

After the Wedding by Susanne Bier.

If you liked Anders Thomas Jensen's film Adam's Apples, then this is a film from Denmark written by Anders Thomas Jensen and Susanne Bier (marking another collaboration between the two) should be right up your alley. Todd at Twitch from what I remember seemed to think it was the pinnacle of their collaborations. I'm seeing this in the next two weeks but having a chance to see it on the big screen with an audience is a chance I'd love to have someday. Your very lucky!

Michael Guillen said...

I adored ADAM'S APPLES!! I thought it was hilarious and I note you've put up several new wallpapers at your site. Can't miss this one either!