Oscars: Australia Nominates 'The Rocket' in Foreign Language Category

2:13 AM PST 09/10/2013 by Pip Bulbeck
"The Rocket"

The Lao-language film has picked up awards at various festivals, including in Berlin, Sydney and Melbourne and at the Tribeca fest.

SYDNEY – Lao-language feature The Rocket is Australia’s official entry in the foreign language film category for the 2014 Academy Awards, national agency Screen Australia said Tuesday.

The film marks the third time in four years that Australia has submitted a foreign language film for Oscar contention.

The movie, written and directed by Kim Mordaunt and produced by Sylvia Wilczynski, tells the story of a young Laotian boy who leads his family, along with a couple of ragged misfits, across war-torn Laos to the dangerous Rocket Festival competition. There, he builds a giant rocket to try to prove he is not cursed. The movie was filmed entirely in Laos.

The Rocket has garnered strong buzz at festivals and was released by distributor Curious Films in Australia on Aug. 29.

The feel-good film, lauded in particular for the performances by its first-time child actors, won the best feature honor in the Generation Kplus program, the best first feature and the Amnesty International Film Prize at this year's Berlinale. It also won the honors for best narrative feature and best actor, along with the audience award, at the Tribeca Film Festival. It took the audience awards at both the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals.

In its Australian limited release on 13 screens, it has brought in AUS$217,222 ($206,360) in its first two weeks, with a per-screen average last weekend of $3,614.

The Rocket will have its U.K. premiere at the London Film Festival and its Asian premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in October.

The film joins Cate Shortland’s German-language feature Lore and Warwick Thornton’s Samson & Delilah (in Warlpiri and English) among the Australian Academy Award entries of recent years.

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