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A total of 63 countries from around the world have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 84th Academy Awards. Last year Mexico received a well-deserved nomination for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful and this year the stakes have been raised with 10 of those submissions coming from Latin America and South America, including: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. Here’s a closer look at those 10 contenders.
The final five nominees will be announced by the Academy on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
Director: Fernando Spiner
Fernando Spiner’s Western Aballay, el hombre sin miedo (Aballay, the Man Without Fear) beat out
Un cuento chino, starring Ricardo Darin, and the politically charged El estudiante (The Student) by Santiago Mitre as Argentina’s official Foreign Language submission. Aballay follows a young man’s bloody quest to avenge his father’s death. Pablo Cedrón, Nazareno Casero, Claudio Rissi and Moro Anghileri star in the film written by Antonio Di Benedetto.
Brazil, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Director: José Padilha
Brazilian director Jose Padilha takes us into one of the most dangerous places on earth in Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (Tropa de Elite 2). Living out of the straggling slums in Rio de Janeiro is the head of Rio’s Special Police Operations Battalion, Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura). He’s accused of a massacre during a violent jail riot that ends in the death of a gang leader. But his biggest challenge comes when he must face his true enemies the dirty cops and corrupt politicians who really run the streets.
Chile, Violeta Went to Heaven
Director: Andrés Wood
According to director Andres Wood, Violeta Parra was Chile’s Edith Piaf. Violeta Went to Heaven stars Francisca Gavilan in a story inspired by the life of the late singer. This eloquent portrait is another edition to Wood’s formidable productions.
Colombia, The Colors of the Mountain
Director: Carlos César Arbeláez
Set in a remote village in the Andean region of Colombia is Carlos César Arbeláez’s debut feature film The Colors of the Mountain. The film centers on young Manuel and his friend Julián who are obsessed with playing soccer at any cost, despite their harsh living conditions as their town continues to witness the violence between the armed military and the guerrilla rebels. When Manuel’s ball rolls into a field of land mines the idea of a rescue attempt for their precious ball is too tempting to resist.
Director: Ian Padrón
Havanastation tells the story of two boys (Andy Fornaris and Ernesto Escalona) from Havana who come from different socioeconomic classes. The cast includes Luis Alberto García, Blanca Rosa Blanco, Miriam Socarrás, René de la Cruz, and Omar Franco. While promoting the film director Ian Padrom said, his objective in making the film, a production for all ages, was to bring the Cuban family to the big screen and to offer them his creation.
Dominican Republic, Love Child
Director: Leticia Tonos
When Maria’s mother dies unexpectedly in a tragic car accident, the 18 year old decides to look for her biological father. She finds him in a nearby town, living in what appears to be a haunted old country house in the middle of a neglected banana plantation. Amidst the peculiarities and superstitions of the Dominican country side, father and daughter will have to face the ghosts of the past that haunt them both.
Mexico, Miss Bala
Director: Gerardo Naranjo
Miss Bala, produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, is probably one of the most riveting films to come out of Mexico recently. Contemporary director Gerardo Naranjo sheds light on the crumbling state of affairs in Mexico. Set in the border city of Baja, Bala chronicles three terrifying days in the life of Laura (Stephanie Sigman), who falls in the hands of a sinister kingpin whose gang is notorious for terrorizing northern Mexico. Naranjo, who also wrote and edited the film, uses Laura’s story as a metaphor to depict an entire country crippled by endless violence, poverty and corruption. Check your local theater for this limited release.
Director: Diego Vega and Daniel Vega
Money-lender Clement lends most of his neighbors small amounts of money because it's the only way he knows how to relate to others, and women are no exception. When one of his hookers leaves him with a baby his life takes a drastic turn. When a neighbor, Sofía (Gabriela Velásquez), steps in to help care for the baby, Clemente is faced with new possibilities during Lima's October celebration of the Lord of Miracles. October isn't a melodrama as the Vega brothers balance themes of loneliness and disconnection with a comic tone.
Spain, Black Bread
Director: Agusti Villaronga
“The lies of adults raise little monsters,” is the slogan for Agusti Villaronga’s Black Bread. Set during the harsh post-war years in the Catalan countryside of Spain, Andreu, a young child finds the remains of a man and his son. Authorities are quick to blame Andreu’s father of the killings, pushing Andreu on a quest to prove his father’s innocence. In the process the young child meets the monster that lives within him.
Venezuela, Rumble of the Stones
Director: Alejandro Bellame Palacios
Venezuela’s Rumble of the Stones centers on a single mom who has lost her daughter to devastating floods in 1999. She tries to rebuild her life with her two sons, but the prominent gang violence poses a strong threat to their wellbeing. Rumble is a story of hope, love and the power of unity. It trumped 10 other contenders to represent Venezuela in the Oscar foreign language category.
The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Let us know which of these foreign language films you’ve seen and which country do you think will take home the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
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