Oscar 2009: Best Foreign-Language Film Submissions

The Class by Laurent CantetA record 67 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 81st Academy Awards, Academy President Sid Ganis announced today.

Jordan is the only first-timer this year. It submitted Amin Matalqa's Captain Abu Raed, which stars veteran Nadim Sawalha as an airport janitor mistaken for a pilot by his neighborhood's poor children. The janitor then sets out to tell fantastic stories about the world out there so as to help the children escape from their drab existence. Earlier this year, Captain Abu Raed nabbed the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and the best director award at the Seattle Film Festival.

Among other potential Oscar 2009 contenders in the best foreign language film category are:

  • Laurent Cantet's The Class, set in one of Paris' poor, multiethnic neighborhoods, and this year's Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival
  • Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex, about the two notorious Red Army Faction terrorists (played by Moritz Bleibtreu and Martina Gedeck)
  • Matteo Garrone's widely praised Gomorra, winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, which tells the story of one of Italy's modern-day crime families
  • Bruno Barreto's Last Stop 174, a dramatization of a bus highjacking that took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2000
  • Majid Majidi's The Song of Sparrows, which won Reza Najie the best actor Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, a morality tale about the fall and rise of a destitute farmer after he leaves the countryside for Teheran

Before the actual voting takes place – and there's been one major procedural change this year – watch for half a dozen or more films to be disqualified as a result of some technicality or other.

Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The 2009 Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the United States, it will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.


The 2008 submissions are:

Opium War by Siddiq Barmak

Afghanistan, Opium War, Siddiq Barmak, director;

The Sorrow of Mrs. Schneider, Piro Milkani and Eno Milkani

Albania, The Sorrow of Mrs. Schneider, Piro Milkani and Eno Milkani, directors;

Mascarades by Lyes Salem

Algeria, Masquerades, Lyes Salem, director;

Lion's Den, Pablo Trapero

Argentina, Lion's Den, Pablo Trapero, director;

Revanche, Gotz Spielmann

Austria, Revanche, Gotz Spielmann, director;

Azerbaijan, Fortress, Shamil Nacafzada, director;

Aha!, Enamul Karim Nirjhar

Bangladesh, Aha!, Enamul Karim Nirjhar, director;

Eldorado by Bouli Lanners

Belgium, Eldorado, Bouli Lanners, director;

Snow, Aida Begic

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Snow, Aida Begic, director;

Last Stop 174, Bruno Barreto

Brazil, Last Stop 174, Bruno Barreto, director;

Zift, Javor Gardev

Bulgaria, Zift, Javor Gardev, director;

The Necessities of Life by Benoit Pilon

Canada, The Necessities of Life, Benoit Pilon, director;

Tony Manero, Pablo Larrain

Chile, Tony Manero, Pablo Larrain, director;

Dream Weavers - Beijing 2008, Yun Gu

China, Dream Weavers, Yun Gu, director;

Dog Eat Dog, Carlos Moreno

Colombia, Dog Eat Dog, Carlos Moreno, director;

No One's Son, Arsen Anton Ostojic

Croatia, No One's Son, Arsen Anton Ostojic, director;

The Karamazovs, Petr Zelenka

Czech Republic, The Karamazovs, Petr Zelenka, director;

Worlds Apart, Niels Arden Oplev

Denmark, Worlds Apart, Niels Arden Oplev, director;

The Island, Sherif Arafa

Egypt, The Island, Sherif Arafa, director;

I Was Here, Rene Vilbre

Estonia, I Was Here, Rene Vilbre, director;

Niilo Syvaoja in The Home of Dark Butterflies, Dome Karukoski

Finland, The Home of Dark Butterflies, Dome Karukoski, director;

Francois Begaudeau in The Class

France, The Class, Laurent Cantet, director;

Georgia, Mediator, Dito Tsintsadze, director;

Moritz Bleibtreu in The Baader Meinhof Complex

Germany, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli Edel, director;

Correction, Thanos Anastopoulos

Greece, Correction, Thanos Anastopoulos, director;

Painted Skin, Gordon Chan

Hong Kong, Painted Skin, Gordon Chan, director;

Iska's Journey, Csaba Bollok

Hungary, Iska's Journey, Csaba Bollok, director;

White Night Wedding, Baltasar Kormakur

Iceland, White Night Wedding, Baltasar Kormakur, director;

Taare Zameen Par, Aamir Khan

India, Taare Zameen Par, Aamir Khan, director;

The Song of Sparrows, Majid Majidi

Iran, The Song of Sparrows, Majid Majidi, director;

Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman

Israel, Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, director;

Gomorra, Matteo Garrone

Italy, Gomorra, Matteo Garrone, director;

Departures, Yojiro Takita

Japan, Departures, Yojiro Takita, director;

Captain Abu Raed, Amin Matalqa

Jordan, Captain Abu Raed, Amin Matalqa, director;

Tulpan, Sergey Dvortsevoy

Kazakhstan, Tulpan, Sergey Dvortsevoy, director;

Crossing, Tae-kyun Kim

Korea, Crossing, Tae-kyun Kim, director;

Heavens Blue, Marie Jaoul de Poncheville

Kyrgyzstan, Heavens Blue, Marie Jaoul de Poncheville, director;

Defenders of Riga, Aigars Grauba

Latvia, Defenders of Riga, Aigars Grauba, director;

Under the Bombs, Philippe Aractingi

Lebanon, Under the Bombs, Philippe Aractingi, director;

Loss, Maris Martinsons

Lithuania, Loss, Maris Martinsons, director;

Nuits d'Arabie, Paul Kieffer

Luxembourg, Nuits d'Arabie, Paul Kieffer, director;

I'm from Titov Veles, Teona Strugar Mitevska

Macedonia, I'm from Titov Veles, Teona Strugar Mitevska, director;

Tear This Heart Out, Roberto Sneider

Mexico, Tear This Heart Out, Roberto Sneider, director;

Goodbye Mothers, Mohamed Ismail

Morocco, Goodbye Mothers, Mohamed Ismail, director;

Dunya and Desie, Dana Nechushtan

The Netherlands, Dunya & Desie, Dana Nechushtan, director;

O'Horten, Bent Hamer

Norway, O'Horten, Bent Hamer, director;

Salt of This Sea, Annemarie Jacir

Palestine, Salt of This Sea, Annemarie Jacir, director;

Ploning, Dante Nico Garcia

Philippines, Ploning, Dante Nico Garcia, director;

Tricks, Andrzej Jakimowski

Poland, Tricks, Andrzej Jakimowski, director;

Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel Gomes

Portugal, Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel Gomes, director;

The Rest Is Silence, Nae Caranfil

Romania, The Rest Is Silence, Nae Caranfil, director;

Mermaid, Anna Melikyan

Russia, Mermaid, Anna Melikyan, director;

The Tour, Goran Markovic

Serbia, The Tour, Goran Markovic, director;

My Magic, Eric Khoo

Singapore, My Magic, Eric Khoo, director;

Blind Loves, Juraj Lehotsky

Slovakia, Blind Loves, Juraj Lehotsky, director;

Rooster's Breakfast, Marko Nabersnik

Slovenia, Rooster's Breakfast, Marko Nabersnik, director;

Jerusalema, Ralph Ziman

South Africa, Jerusalema, Ralph Ziman, director;

The Blind Sunflowers, Jose Luis Cuerda

Spain, The Blind Sunflowers, Jose Luis Cuerda, director;

Everlasting Moments, Jan Troell

Sweden, Everlasting Moments, Jan Troell, director;

The Friend, Micha Lewinsky

Switzerland, The Friend, Micha Lewinsky, director;

Cape No. 7, Te-Sheng Wei

Taiwan, Cape No. 7, Te-Sheng Wei, director;

Love of Siam, Chookiat Sakveerakul

Thailand, Love of Siam, Chookiat Sakveerakul, director;

3 Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Turkey, 3 Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;

Ukraine, Illusion of Fear, Aleksandr Kiriyenko, director;

Hope Eternal by Karl Francis

United Kingdom, Hope Eternal, Karl Francis, director;

Kill Them All, Esteban Schroeder

Uruguay, Kill Them All, Esteban Schroeder, director;

The Color of Fame, Alejandro Bellame Palacios

Venezuela, The Color of Fame, Alejandro Bellame Palacios, director.

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