Oscars: A Guide to All 87 Foreign-Language Submissions

9:30 AM 11/8/2018

by THR staff

The films vying for the foreign-language prize (including first-time entries from Malawi, Niger and Yemen) are as varied as the countries they hail from, delving into issues from family strife to childhood trauma — and chronicling the lives of Syrian orphans, sex workers and a transgender ballerina.

Roma Still 1- Netflix Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Netflix

  • 'Rona Azim's Mother'

    DIRECTOR Jamshid Mahmoudi

    The second Afghan Oscar entry in three years from the Iran-based Mahmoudi brothers (Navid Mahmoudi produces), this drama follows an Afghan refugee working as a janitor in Tehran who is trying to help smuggle his mother into Germany.

  • 'Until the End of Time'

    DIRECTOR Yasmine Chouikh

    Fifty years and 20 submissions after Costa-Gavras won the Oscar for Z, Algeria selected Chouikh's unlikely romance about a woman mourning the loss of her husband who sparks a new friendship — and possibly more — with a gravedigger.

  • 'The Angel'

    DIRECTOR Luis Ortega

    The Angel centers on Argentina's infamous serial killer, Carlos Robledo Puch, who in the 1970s committed 11 murders before the age of 20. In August, the drama earned the country's largest ever four-day box office opening with a tally of $1.9 million.

  • 'Spitak'

    DIRECTOR Alexander Kott

    The Russian filmmaker's drama focuses on the 1988 earthquake in Armenia and is based on eyewitness accounts. Armenian-American singer-songwriter Serj Tankian composed the score.

  • 'Jirga'

    DIRECTOR Benjamin Gilmour

    For his sophomore outing, Gilmour planned to shoot Jirga — about an Australian soldier who searches for the family of a man he killed — in Pakistan, but when the country's secret service blocked production, he moved the shoot to Afghanistan, completing it under dangerous conditions.

  • 'The Waldheim Waltz'

    DIRECTOR Ruth Beckermann

    The documentary takes a look at former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim's run for president of Austria — successful even amid shocking revelations about his Nazi military exploits. Beckermann was an activist who at the time protested Waldheim's campaign.

  • 'No Bed of Roses'

    DIRECTOR Mostofa Sarwar Farooki

    Indian icon Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) stars in and produces Farooki's third Oscar submission for Bangladesh, inspired by a real-life incident: When a successful director has a fling with his daughter's childhood friend, whom he later marries, a national scandal erupts.

  • 'Crystal Swan'

    DIRECTOR Darya Zhuk

    The drama is the first submission from the former Soviet Republic nation since 1996, and follows a young female Belarusian hip-hop DJ in the mid-1990s who dreams of emigrating to join the American music scene.

  • 'Girl'

    DIRECTOR Lukas Dhont

    The winner of the Queer Palm in Cannes follows a transgender girl as she trains to become a ballerina, with a star-making performance from Victor Polster.

  • 'The Goalkeeper'

    DIRECTOR Rodrigo Patino

    Bolivia has yet to be nominated, but it's making a 10th bid with this story of a former soccer player who gets involved in a case of human trafficking while his son is in the hospital waiting for an organ transplant.

  • 'Never Leave Me'

    DIRECTOR Aida Begic

    The drama centers on three Syrian orphans living in a Turkish refugee camp. Begic has had two other films chosen for submission for the Balkan country.

  • 'The Great Mystical Circus'

    DIRECTOR Carlos Diegues

    Marking the return to fiction of veteran Cinema Novo filmmaker "Caca" Diegues after more than a decade and featuring Vincent Cassel in a lead role, the film tells the story of five generations of an Austrian family circus.

  • 'Omnipresent'

    DIRECTOR Ilian Djevelekov

    The drama centers on a writer and advertising agency owner who becomes obsessed with spying on his family, friends and employees using hidden cameras.

  • 'Graves Without a Name'

    DIRECTOR Rithy Panh

    A survivor of his country's genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and director of the previously Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture, Panh in this documentary searches for the remains of his loved ones, who perished during the communist revolutionaries' reign of terror.

  • 'Family Ties'

    DIRECTOR Sophie Dupuis

    The French-language crime film follows a dysfunctional family in Quebec with an uncle who leads a drug cartel.

  • '... And Suddenly the Dawn'

    DIRECTOR Silvio Caiozzi

    The category incumbent (for Sebastian Lelio's A Fantastic Woman), Chile has submitted Caiozzi's first film in more than a decade, which follows a gossip writer who returns to his hometown 40 years after fleeing.

  • 'Hidden Man'

    DIRECTOR Jiang Wen

    Chinese actor-director Jiang's effects- and action-filled third installment of his 1930s-set trilogy charts the course of a young spy's revenge over the killing of his kung fu master, and has been pitched by the director as "Bruce Lee in Casablanca."

  • 'Birds of Passage'

    DIRECTORS Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

    The slow-burn crime saga comes from co-directors Gallego and Guerra — who collaborated on 2015 Oscar nominee Embrace of the Serpent. Birds, which premiered at Cannes and snagged a U.S. release from The Orchard, looks at the Colombian drug trade's effect on a native Wayuu family.

  • 'Medea'

    DIRECTOR Alexandra Latishev Salazar

    Salazar's debut feature centers on a disaffected university student who attempts to start a relationship only to discover that she is five months pregnant.

  • 'The Eighth Commissioner'

    DIRECTOR Ivan Salaj

    Based on Renato Baretic's 2003 best-selling novel, The Eighth Commissioner is set on an island with no internet access where an arrogant politician, who has been framed in a sex-and-drugs scandal on the mainland, is sent to organize the remote spot's first valid election.

  • 'Winter Flies'

    DIRECTOR Olmo Omerzu

    Slovenia-born Omerzu's road movie is a co-production of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland, and follows two teenage boys who speed away from home in a stolen car in search of adventure.

  • 'The Guilty'

    DIRECTOR Gustav Moller

    Despite focusing entirely on a single man speaking into a headset at a Danish emergency call center (Jakob Cedergren), Moller's sparse crime drama, which won the audience award in Sundance, features as many adrenaline-soaked plot twists and heart-pounding moments as any big-budget thriller.

  • 'Cocote'

    DIRECTOR Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias

    Largely filmed on 35mm, this drama centers on a kind-hearted young gardener named Alberto who, after returning home to attend his father's funeral, discovers that a powerful local figure is responsible for the death — and that his family is hoping he'll avenge the murder.

  • 'Son of Man'

    DIRECTORS Jamaicanoproblem (Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador) and Pablo Aguero

    Shot on location using drone cameras and nonprofessional actors, this gritty feature re-creates the true story of an American teenager from the suburbs of Minneapolis who reluctantly joins his father in Ecuador on a hunt for Incan gold.

  • 'Yomeddine'

    DIRECTOR Abu Bakr Shawky

    Shawky's debut feature — an uplifting road movie in which a recovered leper and his orphan assistant set out on a donkey to find their families — became the first Egyptian film to compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in May.

  • 'Take It or Leave It'

    DIRECTOR Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo

    The drama tells the story of a 30-year-old construction worker who is thrust into single fatherhood when his ex-girlfriend informs him that he has a daughter — and that she'll put the baby up for adoption unless he wants to take her on.

  • 'Euthanizer'

    DIRECTOR Teemu Nikki

    One of the more darkly amusing films in the race, Finland's entry follows a mechanic with a sideline in dispatching old and sick pets, who also gives their deadbeat owners a piece of his mind.

  • 'Memoir of War'

    DIRECTOR Emmanuel Finkiel

    France's surprise choice for the foreign-language race has Melanie Thierry playing novelist and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras in an adaptation of the writer's semi-autobiographical writings set during World War II.

  • 'Namme'

    DIRECTOR Zaza Khalvashi

    Set in a fictional idyllic rural location where Muslims and Christians live peacefully side by side, this lyrical drama follows a family tasked with caring for a venerated healing spring.

  • 'Never Look Away'

    DIRECTOR Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

    A painter, born under the Nazis and raised in communist East Germany, struggles to turn his and his country's traumas into art in this drama from the director of 2006 Oscar winner The Lives of Others and 2010 action caper The Tourist.

  • 'Polyxeni'

    DIRECTOR Dora Masklavanou

    This visually stunning work centers on an orphaned girl who is adopted by a Greek family living in Turkey. When Polyxeni (Katia Goulioni) loses her adoptive father, it falls on her to manage his huge fortune.

  • 'Operation Red Sea'

    DIRECTOR Dante Lam

    A controversial selection, Lam's war story was made with the endorsement of the Chinese navy. It became the second-highest-grossing film of all time in China ($576 million) — a thrill-packed rescue-mission action flick with nationalism at its core.

  • 'Sunset'

    DIRECTOR Laszlo Nemes

    After winning the Oscar with his debut, the Holocaust drama Son of Saul, Nemes again chronicles the destruction of a civilization. This time it's Budapest, 1913, one year before the start of World War I, and the guide is a young woman who watches as her world unravels before her.

  • 'Woman at War'

    DIRECTOR Benedikt Erlingsson

    The beating heart of the film is Halla (Halldora Geirhardsdottir), a strong-willed 50-something choir instructor with a secret: She's an industrial saboteur who will stop at nothing to save Iceland's pristine highlands from the government and its sinister bedfellow, the aluminum industry.

  • 'Village Rockstars'

    DIRECTOR Rima Das

    A 10-year-old girl (played by the director's niece) facing a life of destitution in a Northeast Indian village dreams of forming a rock band in this award-winning feature.

  • 'Marlina the Murdered'

    DIRECTOR Mouly Surya

    Surya began work on Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts long before the downfall of Harvey Weinstein brought a reckoning to the film business, but her film would turn out to be perfectly calibrated for the times. Call it Indonesia's feminist Western for the #MeToo moment.

  • 'No Date, No Signature'

    DIRECTOR Vahid Jalilvand

    Two years after The Salesman gave Iran its second Oscar win, the country — despite facing calls to boycott the Academy Awards over the U.S.' withdrawal from the nuclear deal — has submitted this psychological drama, a complex tale in which a forensic pathologist injures a boy and later finds him on his autopsy table.

  • 'The Journey'

    DIRECTOR Mohamed Al-Daradji

    Al-Daradji's second Oscar submission after 2009's Son of Babylon is a will-she-or-won't-she thriller following a young female suicide bomber. Earlier this year, The Journey became the first Iraq-made film in 27 years to be given a theatrical release in the country.

  • 'The Cakemaker'

    DIRECTOR Ofir Raul Graizer

    Graizer passes no judgments in his debut feature about a German baker who develops a morally questionable relationship with the widow of the closeted man he once loved.

  • 'Dogman'

    DIRECTOR Matteo Garrone

    Gomorrah director Garrone returns to Mafia country for this modern-day fable of a good man — dog groomer Marcello, played by Cannes best actor winner Marcello Fonte — who's tempted by the devil.

  • 'Shoplifters'

    DIRECTOR Hirokazu Kore-eda

    The intricate drama won the Cannes Palme d'Or, immediately landing it frontrunner status. A heartbreaking tale of a family of petty criminals, the film shone a light on Japan's under-recognized underclass while featuring a number of unforgettable performances, including a nuanced turn by the late Kirin Kiki.

  • 'Ayka'

    DIRECTOR Sergey Dvortsevoy

    Samal Yeslyamova (winner of Cannes' best actress award) plays a young Kyrgyz woman who, living illegally in Moscow, seeks out the baby she abandoned in the hospital.

  • 'Supa Modo'

    DIRECTOR Likarion Wainaina

    The film, about a village that comes together to bring joy to a terminally ill girl's final days, earned the Children's Jury Special Mention at the Berlin Film Festival in February — and beat out Rafiki, a lesbian love story, for the country's submission slot.

  • 'The Marriage'

    DIRECTOR Blerta Zeqiri

    Zeqiri's feature debut, set in the Balkans a decade after a bitter civil war, starts out with a conventional boy-meets-girl premise that transforms into an explosive gay love triangle.

  • 'To Be Continued'

    DIRECTOR Ivars Seleckis

    For the first time, Latvia is putting forth a documentary as its submission, this one from the legendary Seleckis. The film, shot over two years, looks at the future through the lives of seven children from far-flung parts of the world.

  • 'Capernaum'

    DIRECTOR Nadine Labaki

    Labaki's impactful drama, set amid the world of Beirut's forgotten street kids, follows a neglected child who decides to sue his parents for giving him a life he never asked for.

  • 'Wonderful Losers: A Different World'

    DIRECTOR Arunas Matelis

    Matelis spent eight years making this doc, which follows one of the world's most prestigious cycling competitions, Giro d'Italia, and focuses on the unsung heroes — the medics and water carriers.

  • 'Gutland'

    DIRECTOR Govinda Van Maele

    A German drifter finds shelter in a rustic paradise in this mystery thriller. It stars Frederick Lau (Victoria) as the stranger and Phantom Thread's Vicky Krieps as a villager who takes him in.

  • 'Secret Ingredient'

    DIRECTOR Gjorce Stavreski

    The "secret ingredient" in question is no laughing matter in this tragicomedy, as Vele (Blagoj Veselinov) imbues a cake with stolen marijuana in order to alleviate the cancer pains of his father (Anastas Tanovski).

  • 'The Road to Sunrise'

    DIRECTOR Shemu Joyah

    Malawi's first-ever submission, The Road to Sunrise follows two women who are employed as sex workers as they seek emancipation from exploitative men.

  • 'Roma'

    DIRECTOR Alfonso Cuaron

    Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Cuaron's deeply personal film could be Netflix's chance at snagging noms for both best picture and foreign-language.

  • 'Iskra'

    DIRECTOR Gojko Berkuljan

    Berkuljan's political thriller follows newcomer Jelena Simic as a journalist whose retired detective father (Mirko Vlahovic) seeks her out after she suddenly disappears.

  • 'Burnout'

    DIRECTOR Nour-Eddine Lakhmari

    Diverse characters from contemporary Casablancan society collide in this drama, the fourth feature from Lakhmari — also a singer and musician — and the filmmaker's second Oscar entry after 2008's Casanegra.

  • 'Panchayat'

    DIRECTOR Shivam Adhikari

    Set in the 1970s and named after Nepal's system of self-rule — which was abolished in 1990 — Panchayat centers on a girl who confronts a tradition that prohibits Hindi women from participating in normal family activities when menstruating.

  • 'The Resistance Banker'

    DIRECTOR Joram Lursen

    This local success is the true story of Walraven van Hall, who, during German occupation, defrauded Nazi bankers of millions — which he then funneled to the Dutch resistance.

  • 'Yellow is Forbidden'

    DIRECTOR Pietra Brettkelly

    Veteran documentarian Brettkelly spins a contemporary haute couture Cinderella tale from the story of China's Guo Pei, who designed the iconic yellow dress worn by Rihanna at 2015's Met Gala.

  • 'The Wedding Ring'

    DIRECTOR Rahmatou Keita

    Premiering at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival, Keita's second film is the first Niger has submitted for Oscar contention. The vibrant love story centers on Tiyaa (Magaajyia Silberfeld), who returns home after studying abroad and awaits the proposal of her beloved.

  • 'What Will People Say'

    DIRECTOR Iram Haq

    Haq was forced to leave her native country of Norway and live in Pakistan for more than a year when her parents kidnapped her at age 14 and forced her to live with relatives. This dark point in Haq's life served as the inspiration for What Will People Say, which follows Nisha, who is forced to live in Pakistan after her father catches her alone with her boyfriend.

  • 'Cake'

    DIRECTOR Asim Abbasi

    Two sisters, one who lives abroad and the other who stayed home, reunite when their parents grow sick. It's Pakistan's sixth consecutive submission after the country took a 50-year Oscar hiatus.

  • 'Ghost Hunting'

    DIRECTOR Raed Andoni

    In this powerful doc, former inmates of Israel's notorious Al Moskobiya detention center in Jerusalem are brought together in a to-scale replica to reenact the interrogation and torture they suffered there.

  • 'Ruben Blades is Not My Name'

    DIRECTOR Abner Benaim

    The opener for August's New York Latino Film Festival chronicles the life of nine-time Grammy winner Ruben Blades, who led the charge of the New York salsa revolution in the 1970s.

  • 'The Heiresses'

    DIRECTOR Marcelo Martinessi

    Ana Brun, who nabbed the Silver Bear for best actress in Berlin, stars as Chela, a middle-aged gay woman who is left adrift when she is separated from her partner for the first time in 30 years.

  • 'Eternity'

    DIRECTOR Oscar Catacora

    In Eternity, the first Peruvian film shot in the indigenous language of Aymara, an elderly couple longing for the return of their son struggles to survive in a remote part of the Andes.

  • 'Signal Rock'

    DIRECTOR Chito S. Rono

    Reflecting the daily struggles of the residents of a small island community, veteran auteur Rono's latest feature follows a young man trying to communicate with his sister in Finland who is in an abusive relationship.

  • 'Cold War'

    DIRECTOR Pawel Pawlikowski

    This bittersweet follow-up to Pawlikowski's stark Oscar-winning Ida follows two Soviet-era lovers (inspired by the filmmaker's parents) who shuffle back and forth across the Iron Curtain, never able to stay apart for long but never able to stay together, either.

  • 'Pilgrimage'

    DIRECTOR Joao Botelho

    Loosely based on Fernao Mendes Pinto's book, Pilgrimage catalogs the 16th century explorer's seafaring adventures over the course of 20 years in the East.

  • 'I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians'

    DIRECTOR Radu Jude

    The film's title calls back to the infamous political speech made in the summer of 1941 in Romania's Council of Ministers, which sanctioned a massacre and initiated ethnic cleansing. Yet Jude's darkly comedic drama sets the story in the modern era.

  • 'Sobibor'

    DIRECTOR Konstantin Khabensky

    Russia's largest ever Holocaust film was a surprise box office hit at home (earning north of $5 million to date), due in part to a government campaign to raise awareness about the forgotten titular concentration camp.

  • 'Offenders'

    DIRECTOR Dejan Zecevic

    Revolving around three university students who endeavor to prove the "Tetris" theory of chaos, Zecevic's thriller debuted at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2017.

  • 'Buffalo Boys'

    DIRECTOR Mike Wiluan

    Set on the Indonesian island of Java in the 19th century, Wiluan's directorial debut, styled as a B-movie actioner, revolves around two brothers raised in the American West who return to avenge their father's murder.

  • 'The Interpreter'

    DIRECTOR Martin Sulik

    An octogenarian translator (Jiri Menzel) discovers that a former SS officer executed his parents after reading a book describing his wartime affairs. Ungar seeks revenge, but instead embarks on a journey with the officer's son to meet surviving witnesses.

  • 'Ivan'

    DIRECTOR Janez Burger

    After giving birth to her son Ivan, Mara (Marusa Majer) must decide who she loves more — her child or the child's father.

  • 'Sew the Winter to My Skin'

    DIRECTOR Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

    Based on the escapades of real-life cult hero John Kepe,the biopic recalls the Robin Hood-esque figure as he hid for more than a decade in the Boschberg Mountains.

  • 'Burning'

    DIRECTOR Lee Chang-dong

    Lee's first feature in eight years, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, centers on an aimless writer named Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), and boasts a strong performance by Steven Yeun. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes in May.

  • 'Champions'

    DIRECTOR Javier Fesser

    Spain's top box office hit of 2018, the comedy stars Javier Gutierrez as an arrogant basketball coach who must lead a team of players with disabilities in order to complete his community service.

  • 'Border'

    DIRECTOR Ali Abbasi

    Two trolls find love in this offbeat update of Nordic folklore, adapted from the novel by Let the Right One In writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.

  • 'Eldorado'

    DIRECTOR Markus Imhoof

    The doc connects Europe's current refugee crisis to events from Imhoof's postwar childhood.

  • 'The Great Buddha +'

    DIRECTOR Hsin-yao Huang

    Documentarian Huang's darkly funny contemplation of the gap between Taiwan's haves and have-nots follows a security guard as he vicariously enjoys the exploits of the company's lothario boss via his car's dashcam.

  • 'Malila: The Farewell Flower'

    DIRECTOR Anucha Boonyawatana

    In this gay romance, a terminal cancer patient finds solace in creating intricate Bai Sri ornaments from banana leaves and jasmine flowers, a metaphor for life's impermanence.

  • 'Beauty and the Dogs'

    DIRECTOR Kaouther Ben Hania

    Leaping from documentary to fiction, Ben Hania chronicles one terrible night across nine chapters. When a student is brutally raped by a number of Tunisian policemen, she must choose whether to stay silent or report the crime.

  • 'The Wild Pear Tree'

    DIRECTOR Nuri Bilge Ceylan

    The Palme d'Or-winning director of Winter Sleep interrogates his country's plight through this coming-of-age tale of a budding novelist torn between his father's generation and a different, uncertain path.

  • 'Donbass'

    DIRECTOR Sergei Loznitsa

    Cannes favorite Loznitsa depicts the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine as an anarchic and absurdist horror show. The ensemble piece often rises to a meta level, with the director showing his actors and extras being made up, building up or breaking down a scene.

  • 'I Am Not a Witch'

    DIRECTOR Rungano Nyoni

    Already a BAFTA winner, this hugely original and razor-sharp satire — which bowed at Cannes in 2017 — takes aim at the witch camps still rife in parts of Africa, following one young Zambian girl accused of witchcraft.

  • 'A Twelve-Year Night'

    DIRECTOR Alvaro Brechner

    Brechner's entry (his third for Uruguay) traces the true story of three Tupamaro guerrilla members, including future President Jose "Pepe" Mujica, who were captured by the Uruguayan dictatorship in the early 1970s and forced into solitary confinement for 12 years.

  • 'The Family'

    DIRECTOR Gustavo Rondon Cordova

    Father and son are on the run in Cordova's first feature, which, in 2017, became the first Venezuelan film ever to be part of the Cannes Critics' Week competition.

  • 'The Tailor'

    DIRECTORS Buu Loc Tran and Kay Nguyen

    The film centers on an arrogant young woman in 1960s Saigon who rejects her family's tailoring practice only to be miraculously projected into 2017 to see how her decision ruins the business.

  • '10 Days Before the Wedding'

    DIRECTOR Amr Gamal

    This drama tells the story of a Yemeni couple whose marriage plans were put on hold when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began their military operation against the country's Houthi rebels in 2015. Yemen's first-ever Oscar entry is also reportedly the first feature to be produced, shot and publicly screened in the country since it united in 1990.

    This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.