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Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Entries

On the Wings of Dreams by Golam Rabbany Biplob
Exiled by Johnnie To

Golam Rabbany Biplob's Swapnodanay / On the Wings of Dreams (above, top photo), which debuted at the Rotterdam Film Festival, has been chosen as Bangladesh's submission in the foreign-language film category for the 80th Academy Awards.

The Bengali-language On the Wings of Dreams tells the story of a struggling medicine salesman (Mahmuduzzaman Babu) whose luck seems to improve when his wife (Rokeya Prachy) finds money in a pair of second-hand trousers bought for their son. The problem is that the money is in an unknown foreign currency, and they need to find a bank that will exchange it. Believing himself rich, the salesman even starts courting another woman, whom he intends to have as his second wife.

Last June, On the Wings of Dreams received the best director award in the Asian New Talent category at the Shanghai Film Festival. Earlier this month, the film was screened at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival.

Johnnie To's crime comedy-drama Fong juk / Exiled (above, lower photo), best film and best director winner at the 2007 Hong Kong Film Awards, will represent Hong Kong. Starring Simon Yam, Suet Lam, and Anthony Wong, Exiled follows a couple of hit men hunting down a couple of other hit men hunting down a renegade hit man as Macau is about to be handed over to China.

Israel's pick is writer-director Eran Kolirin's comedy-drama Bikur Ha-Tizmoret / The Band's Visit (above), a hit at this year's Cannes Film Festival and the winner of eight Israeli Film Academy Awards, including best film, director, actor (Sasson Gabai), actress (Ronit Elkabetz), and screenplay.

The Band's Visit portrays the humorous problems encountered by members of an Egyptian brass band stranded in a small Israeli town. The film will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in Los Angeles and New York on Dec. 7.

Eklavya: The Royal Guard by Vidhu Vinod ChopraEklavya: The Royal Guard, starring Bollywood film legend Amitabh Bachchan, is India's entry. Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra – his first directorial effort in seven years – who also acted as co-screenwriter with Abhijit Joshi and Swanand Kirkire, Eklavya: The Royal Guard tells the story of an obsessively devoted guard (Bachchan) at Devigarh, a centuries old citadel in Rajasthan. The guard's devotion will be sorely tested when the region's London-based crown prince returns to his homeland following the queen's death, and peasants revolt against the king.

Also in the cast: Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, and Jackie Shroff. (The film's official site is very much worth a look. And make sure you have your speakers on.)

Estonia's submission is Ilmar Raag's dark drama and local box office hit Klass / The Class (below), about two high-school students (Vallo Kirs, Pärt Uusberg) who join forces to avenge themselves against their bullying classmates. Inspired by the Columbine massacre, The Class received a special mention in the East of West sidebar at the 2007 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The 80th Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24, 2008, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Vallo Kirs, Part Uusberg in The Class by Ilmar Raag

         
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