A record 61 films will compete for this year’s foreign language film Oscar, including the first entry from Kazakhstan. But the list may be reduced if a reluctant Finnish director withdraws his work.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Thursday released its list of international competitors, with the number of movies eclipsing last year’s previous record of 58 titles.
The films include highly touted entries like “Volver” from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro and “The Lives of Others,” from Germany’s Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
But whether the list will include Finland’s “Lights in the Dusk” from director Aki Kaurismaki is an open question.
Kaurismaki, who refused in 2003 to attend the Oscars because of his opposition to the Iraq war, had not approved the submission of his film by the Finnish selection committee, Daily Variety newspaper said.
In a statement, the Beverly Hills-based Motion Picture academy said Mark Johnson, chairman of the foreign language committee, has begun “a dialogue” with Kaurismaki to try to change his mind. No further details were disclosed.
If the Finnish director does not reverse his decision and let “Lights in the Dusk” compete, Finland likely will not be allowed to submit another film, an academy spokeswoman said.
In 2003, Kaurismaki’s “Man Without a Past” was nominated for the foreign language award, and he declined to attend the gala Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles citing his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Other films that will compete include France’s “Avenue Montaigne” by Daniele Thompson and Denmark’s “After the Wedding” by Susanne Bier. Asian entries include two Chinese titles: Hong Kong’s “The Banquet” by Feng Xiaogang and China’s ”Curse of the Golden Flower” from Zhang Yimou.
The Russian hit “9th Company” by Fyodor Bondarchuk will compete, as will Kazakhstan’s “Nomad,” from a trio of filmmakers, Sergei Bodrov, Talgat Temenov and Ivan Passer.
Kazakhstan is currently the subject of a film satire, “Borat,” that has made its government furious with British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his portrayal of a primitive Kazakh journalist.
The Oscars are given out each year in Los Angeles, and the upcoming awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 25.