Last year, South Korea’s Parasite became the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar in Academy history but it started here first, with International Feature Film.
While we don’t seem to have a film that’s going to break in like Parasite did, we currently have over 80 submissions from around the world, all vying for a spot on the shortlist of 10 and then in the final five for an Oscar nomination.
This year finds a record number of submissions directed or co-directed by women (31 at the time of this piece, surpassing last year’s 28) and with Czechia submitting Charlatan, Agnieszka Holland becomes the first woman to have three films submitted across three different countries.
There are also some high profile first-time submissions, namely two from Africa: Lesotho with This is Not a Burial, it’s a Resurrection and Sudan with You Will Die at 20. The most ignored continent in this category, Africa’s rich and vital film output is finally, slowly, being recognized by the IFF branch and this could be a banner year.
When looking at this category, you have to mix and balance the group’s often very Euro-centric lean and those countries who have submitted since the inception of the category. They usually have the upper hand in recognition, at least at the early stage. So that’s France, Spain, Germany plus Israel and Japan. This year I think we’ll see broad representation of Africa, Europe and the Americas. Asia seems oddly far less competitive this year.
I think we’ll see festival favorite Another Round from Denmark, starring Mads Mikkelsen, and Romania in with the political doc Collective, on its way to landing its first nomination. Neon steered Parasite’s historic win last season and this season they have Night of the Kings from Ivory Coast as their main push. It should easily make the shortlist. Last year, many of us thought the branch’s penchant for films about the Holocaust might be over but we were wrong as two films on the subject made the list. This year we have The Auschwitz Report from Slovakia so predict accordingly.
Academy members from all branches are invited to participate in the preliminary round. They must have viewed the submitted films theatrically and met a minimum viewing requirement to be eligible to vote in the category. Their seven choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.
The deadline for countries to submit is 5pm PT on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 and we do still have some countries outstanding including previously nominated countries like Australia, China and The United Kingdom. The official Oscar shortlist won’t be announced until February 9, 2021.
Here are my predictions for the Top 10 shortlist in International Feature Film for November, in alphabetical order.
- Another Round (Denmark)
- The Auschwitz Report (Slovakia)
- Charlatan (Czechia)
- Collective (Romania)
- I’m No Longer Here (Mexico)
- Notturno (Italy)
- This is Not a Burial, it’s a Resurrection (Lesotho)
- Never Gonna Snow Again (Poland)
- Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast)
- Two of Us (France)
Other contenders: And Tomorrow the Entire World (Germany), Apples (Greece), Asia (Israel), Buladó (Netherlands), The Endless Trench (Spain), Funny Boy (Canada), Gaza mon amour (Palestine), Hope (Norway), The Letter (Kenya), La Llorona (Guatemala), True Mothers (Japan), You Will Die at 20 (Sudan)