Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 PSIFF—Foreign Language Submissions to the Academy Awards

The Palm Springs International Film Festival has announced their 2007 program online. What first caught my attention about PSIFF was their reputation for screening all of the official submissions for Academy Award consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category. They have announced (and will be screening) the following 55 submissions, which I've hyperlinked to the festival's capsule reviews, which incorporate their own links to the film's official websites:

9th Company (9 Rota) / Russia / Fyodor Bondarchuk
After the Wedding (Efter Brylluppet) / Denmark / Susanne Bier
Ahimsa: Stop to Run (Ahingsa-Jikko mee gam) / Thailand / Kittikorn Liasirikun
American Visa / Bolivia / Juan Carlos Valdivia
Avenue Montaigne—Orchestra Seats (Avenue Montaigne—Fauteuils d'orchestre) / France / Danièle Thompson
Banquet, The (Ye Yan) / Hong Kong / Feng Xiaogang
Before Flying Back To Earth (Pries Parskrendant i Zeme) / Lithuania / Arunas Matelis
El Benny / Cuba / Jorge Luis Sánchez
Black Book (Zwartboek) / Netherlands / Paul Verhoeven
Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, The (Ang pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros) / Philippines / Auraeus Solito
Blue Cha Cha (Shen Hai) / Taiwan / Wen-Tang Cheng
Border Café (Café Transit) / Iran / Kambuzia Partovi
Bosta / Lebanon / Philippe Aractingi
Chariton's Choir (I Horodia tou Haritona) / Greece / Grigoris Karantinakis
Children (Börn) / Iceland / Ragnar Bragason
Cinema, Aspirin & Vultures (Cinema, aspirinas e urubus) / Brazil / Marcelo Gomes
Curse of the Golden Flower (Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia) / China / Zhang Yimou
Days of Glory (Indigènes) / Algeria / Rachid Bouchareb
Dreams (Ahlaam) / Iraq / Mohamed Al-Daradji
Falkenberg, Farewell (Farväl Falkenberg) / Sweden / Jesper Gansladt
Family Law (Derecho de familia) / Argentina / Daniel Burman
Forever Flows (Nirontor) / Bangladesh / Abu Sayeed
Golden Door, The (Nuovomondo) Italy / Emanuele Crialese
Gravehopping (Odgrobadogroba) / Slovenia / Jan Cvitkovic
Grbavica / Bosnia-Herzegovina / Jasmilla Zbanic
Hula Girls (Hula Gâru) / Japan / Sang-il Lee
Ice Cream, I Scream (Dondurman Gaymak) / Turkey / Yüksel Aksu
In Bed (En la Cama) / Chile / Matias Bize
King and the Clown (Wang-ui namja) / South Korea / Lee Jun-ik
Kontakt / Macedonia / Sergej Stanojkovski
Libertas / Croatia / Veljko Bulajic
Lives of Others, The (Das Leben der Anderen) / Germany / Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Love for Share (Berbagi Suami) / Indonesia / Nia di Nata
Lunacy (Sílení) / Czech Republic / Jan Svankmajer
Madeinusa / Peru / Claudia Llosa
Maroa / Venezuela / Solveig Hoogestejn
Migration (Basain) / Nepal / Subash Prasad Gajurel
Monkeys in Winter (Maimuni prez zimata) / Bulgaria / Milena Andonova
Nomad the Warrior (Kochevnik) / Kazakhstan / Sergei Bodrov, Ivan Passer, Talgat Temenov
Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) / Mexico / Guillermo del Toro
Rang De Basanti / India / Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Retrieval (Z Odzysku) / Poland / Slawomir Fabicki
Someone Else's Happiness (Een Ander zijn Geluk) / Belgium / Fien Troch
Ten Canoes / Australia / Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr
Thieves and Liars (Ladrones y mentirosos) / Puerto Rico / Ricardo Mendez Matta, Poli Marichal
Tomorrow Morning (Sutra Ujutru) / Serbia / Oleg Novkovic
Ton of Luck, A (Soñar no cuesta nada) / Rodrigo Triana
Vitus / Switzerland / Fredi M. Murer
Volver / Spain / Pedro Almodóvar
Water / Canada / Deepa Mehta
Way I Spent the End of the World, The (Cum Mi-am Petrecut Sfarsitul Lumii) / Romania / Catalin Mitulescu
Wedding Chest, The (Sunduk Predkov) / Kyrgyzstan / Nurbek Egen
White Palms (Fehér tenyér) / Hungary / Szabolcs Hadju
Yacoubian Building, The (Omaret Yacoubian) / Egypt / Maravan Hamed
You Bet Your Life (Spiele Leben) / Austria / Antonin Svoboda

Of those 55 I have already seen 12 (The Banquet; Cinema, Aspirin & Vultures; Curse of the Golden Flower; Days of Glory; In Bed; The Lives of Others; Lunacy; Madeinusa; Pan's Labyrinth (1, 2, and 3); Ten Canoes; Volver; and Water). I've hyperlinked those where I have either reviewed the film, interviewed the talent, or transcribed a Q&A. I might mention that in the works and soon to be published on The Evening Class are interviews with Peter Ketnath (of Cinema, Aspirin & Vultures) and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others).

Of the remaining foreign language submissions, I'm intending to see 15 of these films at the Palm Springs International: After the Wedding (on Blake's earlier recommendation); Ahimsa: Stop to Run; El Benny; Black Book (thanks for the heads-up, Brian!); The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (finally!); Blue Cha Cha; Bosta; Family Law (unless I catch it on Comcast's On Demand first); Forever Flows; Maroa; Monkeys in Winter (really looking forward to this, Marina!); Nomad the Warrior; Rang De Basanti; Thieves and Liars; and The Yacoubian Building (on Michael Hawley's recommendation). I just want to make sure you all realize I listen to your comments and suggestions!

Along with those 15 screenings I will, of course, be catching a whole other set of films at PSIFF relating to Mexican cinema that are part of their Cine Latino series (in anticipation of a roundtable I'll be moderating with Sergio de La Mora, Johnny Ray Huston, and B. Ruby Rich on the state of Latino cinema, to be published on The Evening Class in the relatively near future; I'll keep you posted). Also at Palm Springs I'll be catching an archival screening of the Czech classic Marketa Lazarova, among various other random "must sees" here and there. You can imagine that having to choose among so many wonderful titles is near to maddening! You have to factor in competing time slots, the distance between venues, when you might get a chance to eat, a chance to sleep, a chance to visit with friends, what films you might never get a chance to see ever again, and which might achieve distribution or—at the least—an appearance in upcoming Bay Area festivals. It's grueling and I've spent nights anguishing over the schedule and I love every moment of it. I admit it; I've become a festival addict.

A few on the foreign language list I'll be catching later next month at the San Rafael Film Center's "For Your Consideration" sampling, notably Ahlaam, Kontakt, and—one I'm surprised not to see on the PSIFF list—Story of Pao from Vietnam.

Naturally, the rest I hope will be picked up at Bay Area festivals to come, namely the Asian-American International Film Festival and the San Francisco International. I've heard a few rumors but I'm not at liberty to divulge. Hunger is, after all, the best spice! Though how one can speak of hunger after a banquet such as this borders on the gluttonous.


Marina said...

Hello and a belated Merry Christmas!
I'm glad to hear that you'll watch 'Monkeys in the Winter'. It's very kind of you to have created such eagerness. Thank you and I hope the film won't disappoint you.
Now, I allow myself to send you a couple of songs by the singer-actress Boni, who stars in one of the segments. Klada ot strast [Stake of Passion] is her most famous and tender song. A more recent, yet just as beautiful song is Tryabvash mi [I need you]. The video of 'Tryabvash mi' is lovely and I tried to upload it on a few sites but with no success. :(
Anyway, I found two clips on youtube:
Poludyavam li [Am I going crazy] and Ludnitza [Madhouse].
Personally, I don't like them much, but if you want and have the time, you could take a look.
Well, that's it. I hope you like the songs, but, of course, you don't have to. :)
In the meantime, we will be looking forward to numerous other fantastic interviews!

Michael Guillen said...

Marina, your generous reciprocity is astounding!! Thank you so much for turning me on to Boni. She reminds me a bit of Asya, one of my favorite Turkish singers, do you know her? Anyways, her voice is quite beautiful and I look forward to her performance in Monkeys in the Winter. She's a beautiful woman. Too bad she's so emotionally anguished, eh? Heh.

I hope you too had a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year brings you all your dreams in detail. It's been a great pleasure this year to get to know you on line.

Brian Darr said...

Marketa Lazarova is simply stunning. I'm glad you'll be getting a chance to view it.

As for the rest of the schedule, I'm not so hyped up about the majority of the Oscar submissions, but there's still plenty of selections I'm incredibly green-eyed about. I can only hope they make their way to a NorCal festival or screening venue. If you encounter any filmmakers, sales agents or distributors who appear to feel stingy about overexposing their films in California with more than one festival selection, please remind them that we're hundreds of miles away!

Michael Guillen said...

Aye-aye, Cap'n!!

So glad to hear about Marketa Lazarova. I was torn a bit about whether I should be indulging myself an archival piece when so many new films were being offered; but, their write-up mentioned it was not available on dvd or video and so I thought I should grab the opportunity.

Anonymous said...


I've couldn't find the Norwegian entry in your list - the film is Reprise, the debut film of Joachim Trier, who was awarded the Best Director award at this summer's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The film is amazing, and a highly recommended pick, if screened at the festival you mention (or another place). Let me point you to a few reviews; Twitch and Variety. I hope you can track this film down! All the best from a regular reader in Norway

Michael Guillen said...

Hey Koola, yeah, I was disheartened not to find it on the list either. I'm hoping it might show up at our SF International. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

Brian Darr said...

I believe Marketa Lazarova has been or will soon be released in a Region 2 disc, but this is one film that I think particularly benefits from a big-screen, 35mm presentation. It's a widescreen epic on an almost Andrei Rublev-ian scale, but even more kinetically charged.

Michael Guillen said...

Doug Cummings just mentioned in email that, yes indeedy, Marketa Lazarova will be released on R2 DVD later next year.

Lady Wakasa said...

Hi, Michael, and Happy New Year!
I hope you get a chance to see King and the Clown, the South Korean entry. It's a wonderful, solid little movie (and, in fact, because of it I've gotten involved with a website to discuss some of the social / political / historical issues behind the movie for Western audiences). The Brokeback Mountain comparison just doesn't come close to covering everything going on. X at Twitchfilm did an extraordinary multi-part review of the movie that's worth checking out; and if you'd like to see our site as well, that's here.

Anonymous said...

You probably will never hear of Arunas Matelis or his film, Before Flying Back to Earth, but they are in the Oscar race for Best Foreign Film of the year! Unfortunately, the chances are slim that it will win, or even get one of the final nominations, for this film has no resources to promote it. I am writing you personally to urge you to give it any support that you can for it is a worthy film deserving of your attention.

Before Flying Back to Earth chronicles the hopes and resilience of children with leukemia in Lithuania. It is based on the observations of its Director, Arunas Matelis’ five year-old daughter who has leukemia. Her struggles with leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood, and afflicts thousands of children per year, in fact, parallels his to gain recognition for this film, and win an Oscar against undeniably improbable odds!

I provide charity services in the same children’s hospital in Lithuania where it was filmed. This film’s nomination would do much to spotlight cancer, which is the 2nd most common cause of death in young children.

Arunas Matelis, the director, is just happy that his film is even being considered for such an honor as an Academy Award. To win a nomination for for him would be a miracle, but for Arunas much less important than having his young actors recover from their illnesses!

I thank you for your consideration for this film! Dr. Ed Domanskis

Arunas Matelis is a Lithuanian Director who has won numerous awards for his Film, Before Flying Back to Earth, and can be contacted through the film’s website, or directly at He is available for interviews and will be presenting his film at the upcoming Palm Springs Film Festival January 6th and 8th and in Los Angeles January 14. He will be at the Marquis Suites from January 4 until the 9th.

Dr. Edward Jonas Domanskis is Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
1441 Avocado Avenue, Suite 307
Newport Beach, California 92660
FAX- 949.640-7347
Assistant Clinical Professor of SurgeryWOS-Plastic,University of California(Irvine)
Orange County’s Physician of Excellence/America’s Top Physicians/Top Doctors
Plastic Surgery- 2005/2006/2007

Michael Guillen said...

Koola, just noticed that Reprise is on the Sundance line-up. Hopefully it will make its way to the SF International.

Lady Wakasa, I fully intend to see King and the Clown, though it won't be in Palm Springs. A little bird told me it will be showing up in the near future at one of our Bay Area film festivals. Thanks for the links. I'll look into them as I draw near to viewing the film.

Dr. Domanskis, thank you so much for championing Before Flying Back To Earth and kudos to you for the fine work you are doing in helping these children lead a better quality of life. Before Flying Back To Earth is part of the For Your Consideration series at the San Rafael Film Center, where I was planning to catch it on January 21st. I won't have the chance in Palm Springs. But thank you for the contact information. When the time comes, I would love to talk to you and Matelis about the documentary and your work at the hospital. Thank you for speaking up.