The race for the International Feature Film Oscar has begun.
For the first time ever, Ecuador kicks off the season with the first official Oscar submission with Submersible (Sumergible) directed by Alfredo León León, his first entry for the South American country. Submersible details the story of a handmade narco sub on the verge of sinking and losing its precious cargo due to a mechanical failure. The three crew members are forced to open the forbidden cargo cabin to distribute the weight and save the ship. Next to the cargo they find a special “gift“ for the buyer: a young girl, gagged and in terrible shape. The boat, barely big enough for three to begin with, becomes a steaming powder cake of fears, desires and greed. This is Ecuador’s 10th submission overall, it has yet to receive an Oscar nomination.
A shortlist of 15 qualifying films will be announced on December 21, 2020 with Oscar nominations revealed on February 8, 2021. The 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27, 2021.
Since the beginning of 2020, the unprecedented coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic mandated the closure of commercial motion picture theaters worldwide. Country-selected films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available through a reputable commercial streaming distribution service or video on demand may qualify for Awards consideration in the International Feature Film category for the 94th Academy Awards under these provisions:
- Provide to the Academy documentation (original document(s) and an English translation) of
government-mandated theater/cinema closure dates, previously planned theatrical release and
streaming distribution or video on demand agreements;
- Make the selected film available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film being officially selected;
- Meet all other eligibility requirements.
- When theaters reopen in accordance with national and local specified guidelines and criteria, and on a
date to be determined by the Academy, this exemption to the rules will no longer apply. All films released
thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard International Feature Film category theatrical
In order for films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements, the Academy will allow
films to qualify outside the country of origin, provided the film is theatrically exhibited outside of the
United States and its territories for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater
for paid admission. The International Feature Executive Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and
Film festivals have been impacted by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Participation in an impacted
festival’s online/virtual platform will not affect a film’s eligibility for Awards consideration provided the
festival has a transactional pay wall or password-protected entry. Film festival participation does not
qualify a film in the International Feature Film category. Films must comply with all other eligibility
requirements for the 94th Academy Awards.
Due to the global pandemic caused by coronavirus/COVID-19, all dates and matters of rules and
eligibility for the 94th Academy Awards are subject to change based on national guidelines, state-mandated government orders and Academy determined-best practices.
An international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (over 40 minutes) produced outside the
United States of America and its territories with a predominantly (more than 50%) non-English dialogue
track. Animated and documentary feature films are permitted.
The country-selected film must be first released in the country of origin no earlier than January 1,
2021, and no later than December 31, 2021, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven
consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.
Films that, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their
first qualifying theatrical release will not be eligible for Academy Awards consideration.
The recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed picture must be predominantly
(more than 50%) in a language or languages other than English. ACCURATE, LEGIBLE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE SUBTITLES ARE REQUIRED. Assets need burned-in subtitles.
The submitting country must confirm that creative control of the film was largely in the hands of
citizens or residents of the submitting country.
The International Feature Film Executive Committee shall resolve all questions of eligibility and rules.
A list of the selection committee members must be submitted to the Academy no later than WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2021, or by the submission deadline published by the Academy.
All submission materials must be submitted to the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2021.
Stats, Notes and Superlatives
Foreign-language/International Feature films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar
Between 1947 and 1955, the Academy presented Special Awards to the best foreign language films released in the U.S. Because these awards were not handed out on a regular basis and didn’t have any nominees, they were not competitive. For the 29th Academy Awards in 1956, a competitive Academy Award of Merit, known as the Best Foreign Language Film Award, was created for non-English speaking films. It has since then been awarded annually category. Nearly 20 years earlier, Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion (France) was nominated for Best Picture in 1938, its only nomination. 2006’s Letters From Iwo Jima was a Japanese-spoken US production not an official submission for foreign language film.
In 1957, Denmark became the first country to send a film with a female director to the Foreign Oscar competition (Annelise Hovmand’s Be Dear to Me). Two years later, Astrid Henning-Jensen’s Paw became to the first film directed by a woman to receive a nomination in the category.
Since the inception of the foreign language/international feature Oscar, only 9 films have been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. 2019’s South Korea’s Parasite became the first ever to win.
|Cries and Whispers||Sweden||1973|
|Life is Beautiful||Italy||1998|
|Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon||Taiwan||2000|
|Parasite (won Best Picture)||South Korea||2019|
The biggest losers: While Israel is the biggest loser with 10 nominations and no wins in this category, and Portugal is the currently the most unsuccessful country for getting a nomination with the most submissions (at 36), Philippines holds another record. It’s the sole country which sent a submission film at the first competitive year (1956) that hasn’t gotten an Oscar nom yet. The other 7 countries that submitted that first year – France, Italy, West Germany (now Germany), Denmark, Sweden, Japan and Spain – all of these ended up winning at least once.
Number of films with women directors or co-directors (14): Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Kosovo, Indonesia, Mexico, North Macedonia, Paraguay, Switzerland, Ukraine
Submissions with LGBTQ+ subjects or themes: Austria, Brazil, Denmark
Countries with potential eligibility issues: Colombia
Countries submitting for the first time: Somalia
Here is the official list of submissions for the International Feature Film Oscar, updating throughout the season.
|Albania||Three Lions Heading to Venice||Jonid Jorgji (1st)||14th submission for Albania, which has yet to be nominated|
|Algeria||Heliopolis||Djaâfar Gacem (1st)||23rd submission for Algeria, which has been nominated five times and won once (1969's Z, its first submission)|
|Argentina||The Intruder||Natalia Meta (1st)||48th submission for Argentina, which has been nominated seven times and won twice (1985's The Official Story, 2009's The Secret in Their Eyes)|
|Armenia||Should the Wind Drop||Nora Martirosyan (1st)||10th submission for Armenia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Australia||When Pomegranates Howl||Granaz Moussavi (1st)||14th submission for Australia, which has been nominated once|
|MUBI||Sebastian Meise (1st)||45th submission for Austria, which has been nominated four times and won twice (2007's The Counterfeiters, 2012's, Amour)|
|Belgium||Un Monde||Laura Wandel (1st)||46th submission for Belgium, which has been nominated seven times but has yet to win|
|Bolivia||The Great Movement||Kiro Russo (1st)||13th submission for Bolivia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina||White Fortress||Igor Drljaca (1st)||21st submission for Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has been nominated twice and won once (2001'sNo Man's Land)|
|Brazil||Deserto Particular||Aly Muritiba||51st submission for Brazil, which has been nominated four times|
|Bulgaria||Fear||Ivaylo Hristov (2nd)||32nd submission for Bulgaria, which has yet to be nominated|
|Cambodia||White Building||Kavich Neang (1st)||10th submission for Cambodia, which has been nominated once (2013's The Missing Picture)|
|Canada||Drunken Birds||Ivan Grbovic (1st)||47th submission for Canada, which has been nominated 7 times and won once (2003's The Barbarian Invasions)|
|NEON||Apichatpong Weerasethakul (1st time for Colombia, 2nd overall)||30th submission for Colombia, which has been nominated once (2015's Embrace of the Serpent)|
|Costa Rica||Clara Sola||Nathalie Alvarez (1st)||10th submission for Costa Rica, which has yet to be nominated|
|Croatia||Tereza37||Danilo Šerbedžija (1st for Croatia, 3rd time overall)||30th submission for Croatia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Czech Republic||Zátopek||David Ondříček (2nd)||51st submission for Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia, which has been nominated nine times and won three times (1965's The Shop on Main Street, 1967's Closely Watched Trains, 1996's Kolya)|
|NEON||Jonas Poher Rasmussen (1st)||59th submission for Denmark, which has been nominated 13 times and won four (1987's Babette's Feast, 1988s' Pelle the Conqueror, 2010's In a Better World, 2020's Another Round)|
|Ecuador||Submersible||Alfredo León León (1st)||10th submission for Ecuador, which has yet to be nominated|
|Finland||Compartment No. 6|
|Sony Pictures Classics||Juho Kuosmanen (2nd)||34th submission for Finland (including one disqualification and one withdrawl), which has been nominated once|
|NEON||Julia Ducournau (1st)||68th submission for France, which has been nominated 40 times and won 12 times (including three Honorary Oscars prior to the creation of the category: 1948, 1950, 1952)|
|Georgia||Brighton 4th||Levan Koguashvili (2nd)||20th submission for Georgia, which has been nominated once|
|Germany||I'm Your Man|
|Bleecker Street||Maria Schrader (1st for Germany, she was previously selected for Austria)||59th overall submission for Germany both pre and post-unification in 1990, Germany has been nominated 20 times and won three times (1979's The Tin Drum, 2002's Nowhere in Africa, 2006's The Lives of Others)|
|Greece||Digger||Georgis Grigorakis (1st)||41st submission for Greece, which has been nominated five times but has yet to win|
|Hong Kong||Jimmy Wan (1st)||37th submission for Hong Kong, which has been nominated three times but has yet to win|
|Hungary||Post Mortem||Péter Bergendy (1st)||57th submission for Hungary, which has been nominated 10 times and won twice (1981's Mephisto, 2015's Son of Saul)|
|India||Pebbles||P.S. Vinothraj (1st)||54th submission for India, which has been nominated three times|
|Indonesia||Yuni||Kamila Andini (1st)||23rd submission for Indonesia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Amazon Studios||Asghar Farhadi (35th||27th submission for Iran, which has been nominated three times and won twice (both for Farhadi films: 2011's A Separation, 2016's The Salesman)|
|Ireland||Foscadh||Seán Breathnach (1st)||8th submission for Ireland, which has yet to be nominated|
|Israel||Let There Be Morning||Eran Kolirin (1st)||54th submission for Israel, which has been nominated 10 times but has yet to win (the biggest loser in this category)|
|Italy||The Hand of God||Netflix||Paolo Sorrentino (2nd)||68th submission for Italy, which has been nominated 31 times, won 14 times (including 3 Honorary Oscars before the creation of the category: 1947, 1949, 1950)|
|Japan||Drive My Car|
|MUBI||Ryusuke Hamaguchi (1st)||67th submission for Japan, which has been nominated 16 times, won 4 times (including 2008's Departures and three Honorary Oscars prior to the creation of the category: 1951, 1954, 1955)|
|Kenya||Mission to Rescue||Gildert Lukalia (1st)||6th submission for Kenya, which has yet to be nominated|
|Kosovo||Hive||Blerta Basholli (1st)||8th submission for Kosovo, which has yet to be nominated|
|Kyrgyzstan||Shambala||Artykpai Suyundukov (1st)||14th submission for Kyrgyzstan, which has yet to be nominated|
|Luxembourg||Io sto bene||Donato Rotunno (2nd)||18th submission for Luxembourg, which has yet to be nominated|
|Malawi||Fatsani: A Tale of Survival||Gift Sukez Sukali (1st)||2nd submission for Malawi, which has yet to be nominated|
|Malta||Luzzu||Alex Camilleri (1st)||2nd submission for Malta, which has yet to be nominated|
|Montenegro||After the Winter||Ivan Bakrač (1st)||8th submission for Montenegro, which has yet to be nominated|
|Morocco||Casablanca Beats||Nabil Ayouch (5th)||17th submission for Morocco, which has yet to be nominated|
|Netherlands||Do Not Hesitate||Shariff Korver (1st)||54th submission for Netherlands, which has been nominated seven times and won three times (1986's The Assault, 1995's Antonia's Line, 1997's Character)|
|North Macedonia||Sisterhood||Dina Duma (1st)||18th submission for North Macedonia, which has been nominated twice|
|Norway||The Worst Person in the World|
|NEON||Joachim Trier (1st)||43rd submission for Norway, which has been nominated five times but has yet to win|
|Palestine||The Stranger||Ameer Fakher Eldin (1st)||14th submission for Palestine, which has been nominated twice|
|Paraguay||Nothing but the Sun||Arami Ullón (1st)||5th submission for Paraguay, which has yet to be nominated|
|Peru||Powerful Chief||Henry Vallejo (1st)||28th submission for Peru, which has been nominated once (2009's The Milk of Sorrow)|
|Poland||Leave No Traces|
|Jan P. Matuszyński (1st)||53rd submission for Poland, which has been nominated 12 times and won once (2014's Ida)|
|Romania||Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn|
|Magnolia Pictures||Radu Jude (3rd)||37th submission for Romania, which has been nominated once|
|Russia||Unclenching the Fists|
|MUBI||Kira Kovalenko (1st)||28th submission for Russia since 1992 (where they had 24 as The Soviet Union), which has been nominated seven times and won once (1994's Burnt by the Sun)|
|Serbia||Oasis||Ivan Ikić (1st)||28th submission for Serbia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Slovakia||107 Mothers||Péter Kerekes (1st)||25th submission for Slovakia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Slovenia||Sanremo||Miroslav Mandič (1st)||25th submission for Slovenia, which has yet to be nominated|
|Somalia||The Gravedigger's Wife||Khadar Ahmed (1st)||This is the first ever submission for Somalia|
|South Korea||Escape from Mogadishu||Well Go USA||Ryoo Seung-wan (1st)||33rd submission for South Korea, which has been nominated and won once (2019's Parasite)|
|Spain||The Good Boss||Fernando León de Aranoa (2nd)||64th submission for Spain, which has been nominated 20 times and won four times (19982's Begin the Beguine, 1993's Belle Époque, 1999's All About My Mother, 2004's The Sea Inside)|
|Sweden||Tigers||Ronnie Sandahl (1st)||61st submission for Sweden, which has been nominated 16 times and won three times (all for Ingmar Bergman films: 1960's The Virgin Spring, 1961's Through a Glass Darkly, 1983's Fanny and Alexander)|
|Switzerland||Olga||Elle Grappe (1st)||49th submission for Switzerland, which has been nominated five times and won twice (1984's Dangerous Moves, 1990's Journey of Hope)|
|Chung Mong-hong (3rd)||47th submission for Taiwan, which has been nominated three times (all for Ang Lee films) and won once (2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)|
|Tunisia||Golden Butterfly||Abdelhamid Bouchnak (1st)||8th submission for Tunisia, which has been nominated once|
|Ukraine||Bad Roads||Nataliia Vorozhbyt (1st)||14th submission for Ukraine, which has yet to be nominated|
|Uruguay||Broken Glass Theory||Diego Fernández (1st)||21st submission for Uruguay, which has been nominated once but the sole distinction of being the only country to be disqualified after being nominated (1992's A Place in the World)|