Oscars: A Guide to All 92 Foreign-Language Submissions

12:00 PM 11/9/2017

by THR Staff

Six countries make their first-ever bid among the record number of entries, which cover a wide range of social issues from France's refugee crisis ('Happy End') to the humanity of the transgender experience ('A Fantastic Woman').

'First They Killed My Father'
'First They Killed My Father'
Courtesy of Netflix

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

  • 'A Letter to the President'

    Afghanistan

    Courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Roya Sadat

    This feature debut from Sadat, Afghanistan's 12th submission to the Oscars, takes a look at the harsh realities facing women in the war-ravaged country today. Its story centers on a lowly female public official who intervenes to save a woman from tribal punishments, only to find herself arrested for her efforts.

  • 'Daybreak'

    Albania

    Courtesy of ARTALB Film

    DIRECTOR Gentian Koci

    Koci's first feature follows an impoverished young mother who moves with her son to work as an in-home caretaker for an ailing, elderly woman.

  • 'Road to Istanbul'

    Algeria

    Courtesy of Hassen Brahiti/3B Productions

    DIRECTOR Rachid Bouchareb

    Tackling a similar theme in his 2009 film London River, the director's latest focuses on a Belgian single mom whose 18-year-old daughter runs off to take part in the fight against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Bouchareb has had three other films submitted in the foreign-language category.

  • 'Zama'

    Argentina

    Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Lucrecia Martel

    This period drama from the veteran filmmaker follows an 18th century Spanish colonial officer who is stationed in a remote South American river town, waiting for a transfer that will never come. Argentina is the only Latin American country to have won the Oscar, with victories in 1985 and 2009.

  • 'Yeva'

    Armenia

    Courtesy of National Cinema Center of Armenia

    DIRECTOR Anahit Abad

    This Armenia-Iran co-production, Armenia's sixth Oscar submission since the country gained independence in 1991, centers on a woman who, with her daughter, flees the capital Yerevan — and her own past — and takes refuge at her relatives' home in a smaller village.

  • 'The Space Between'

    Australia

    DIRECTOR Ruth Borgobello

    The first Australia-Italy co-production is a cross-cultural romance set in northeast Italy, where an ex-chef who's caring for his ailing father falls for an Australian visitor. The story is loosely based on first-time filmmaker Borgobello's own love story with her husband.

  • 'Happy End'

    Austria

    DIRECTOR Michael Haneke

    One year after her Oscar nomination for Elle, Isabelle Huppert stars in this icy satire touching on France's refugee crisis. The film, which will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in December in the U.S. (after it competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes), is Haneke's eagerly awaited follow-up to 2012's Amour, which won the foreign-language Oscar (and earned the director his second Palme d'Or).

  • 'Pomegranate Orchard'

    Azerbaijan

    Courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Ilgar Najaf

    The drama, inspired by Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, follows a man living with his grandson whose life is disrupted when his son returns home to make amends.

  • 'The Cage'

    Bangladesh

    DIRECTOR Akram Khan

    Bangladesh's entry, like those from its South Asian neighbors, is inspired by reality — namely, the traumatic 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Khan's film revolves around a Hindu family trying to migrate to India from East Pakistan.

  • 'Racer and the Jailbird'

    Belgium

    Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Michael R. Roskam

    Roskam, who saw his debut Bullhead earn an Oscar nomination in 2012, teams two of Europe's most in-demand stars — Adele Exarchopoulos and Matthias Schoenaerts — for this romance between a young racing driver and a gangster, set amid Brussels' criminal underworld.

  • 'Dark Skull'

    Bolivia

    DIRECTOR Kiro Russo

    Russo's feature debut, a visually striking drama set in a Bolivian mining community, has picked up festival awards across Spain, Colombia and Brazil.

  • 'Men Don't Cry'

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Courtesy of KVIFF

    DIRECTOR Alen Drljevic

    Drljevic, himself a veteran, explores the recent past with his story about a group of Yugoslav War vets from different backgrounds who get together for a group therapy session. The film premiered at the Karlovy Vary film festival, where it won the Europa Cinemas Label and Special Jury Prize.

  • 'Bingo: The King of the Mornings'

    Brazil

    Courtesy of Alisson Louback

    DIRECTOR Daniel Rezende

    A former editor who worked on projects including Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Rezende makes his directorial debut with a tale inspired by the true story of Brazil's Bozo, actor Arlindo Barreto. The story follows a famous TV clown who is frustrated by his lack of public recognition, as his contract forbids him to reveal his identity to the public.

  • 'Glory'

    Bulgaria

    DIRECTORS Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva

    The directing duo reunited with much of the cast and crew from their award-winning narrative debut, The Lesson, for this comedy-drama about a railroad worker who turns in millions of dollars he finds strewn across train tracks.

  • 'First They Killed My Father'

    Cambodia

    DIRECTOR Angelina Jolie

    Jolie is the most high-profile American director ever to have a film nominated by a foreign country. The Oscar-winning actress' fifth directorial effort is based on the true story of author and activist Loung Ung, who, as a young girl in Cambodia, was forced to become a child soldier. The project played at Telluride and Toronto before it was released on Netflix in September. Jolie's son Maddox, whom she adopted in Cambodia, has an executive producer credit on the film.

  • 'Hochelaga, Land of Souls'

    Canada

    DIRECTOR Francois Girard

    The drama, which premiered at Toronto, portrays several moments in Canadian history through the finds at a fictional Montreal archaeological dig. Its French-Canadian director is best known for helming the 1998 film The Red Violin, which won an Academy Award for best original score. The last Canadian film to win the foreign-language Oscar was 2003's The Barbarian Invasions.

  • 'A Fantastic Woman'

    Chile

    DIRECTOR Sebastian Lelio
     
    The country, which has submitted 22 films over the years and been nominated once (Pablo Larraín’s 2012 No), has submitted this critically acclaimed drama centering on a transgender woman (Daniela Vega) dealing with the death of her partner and the judgment of his family. 
     
  • 'Wolf Warrior 2'

    China

    Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

    DIRECTOR Wu Jing

    Easily the highest-grossing film on the 2017 submission list, this record-breaking sequel stars its helmer and writer, Wu. It has become the country's most financially successful film of all time, pulling in $854.2 million at the Chinese box office.

  • 'Guilty Men'

    Colombia

    DIRECTOR Ivan D. Gaona

    The closest Colombia has come to the Oscar was in 2016 when Ciro Guerra's Embrace of the Serpent became the country's first picture to land a nomination. This crime thriller centers on a man who gets involved with a local right-wing paramilitary group.

  • 'The Sound of Things'

    Costa Rica

    Courtesy of Sputnik Films

    DIRECTOR Ariel Escalante

    This subtle character study follows a nurse who's trying to avoid the pain left by her cousin's suicide. Escalante, a two-time best short winner at the Costa Rica Film Festival, makes her feature debut with this drama.

  • 'Quit Staring at My Plate'

    Croatia

    Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Hana Jusic

    Featuring a standout performance by newcomer Mia Petricevic, this coming-of-age drama from first-time feature director Jusic tells the story of a woman suddenly forced to become her family's breadwinner after her authoritarian father suffers a stroke.

     
  • 'Ice Mother'

    Czech Republic

    Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Bohdan Slama

    A retiree finds a late-in-life rebirth through romance and chillingly plunges into the Vltava River in this comic drama that reunites the director with Slovak actress Zuzana Kronerova for their fifth feature together. The Czech Republic won a 1996 Oscar for Kolya, while Czechoslovakia had two wins before the country split in 1992.

  • 'You Disappear'

    Denmark

    Courtesy of TIFF

    DIRECTOR Peter Schonau Fog

    Fog's second feature could become Denmark's 13th nomination if it makes it through. The film — based on the best-selling novel by Christian Jungersen — follows a headmaster, suffering from a brain tumor, who is put on trial for embezzling millions from his school.

     
  • 'Woodpeckers'

    Dominican Republic

    Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Jose Maria Cabral

    For this love story set against the real-life backdrop of a prison in the Dominican Republic, director Cabral spent nine months at a local prison and observed the made-up sign language used between the male and female prisoners. The film premiered at Sundance before its May release in its home country.

  • 'Alba'

    Ecuador

    DIRECTOR Ana Cristina Barragan

    The South American country has submitted only six films to the Oscars since 2000. Its latest (and first from a female director) is largely wordless and follows a cripplingly shy 11-year-old girl (Macarena Arias in her feature film debut).

  • 'Sheikh Jackson'

    Egypt

    DIRECTOR Amr Salama
     
    An Islamic cleric with a passion for Michael Jackson finds himself in a crisis of faith after the king of pop’s death. Egypt has submitted 33 films since 1958 but has yet to win a foreign-language Oscar, although its film The Square earned a nomination in the documentary category in 2014.
     
  • 'November'

    Estonia

    DIRECTOR Rainer Sarnet

    This folklore-infused adaptation of an Estonian best-seller won a cinematography award in Tribeca and is set within an impoverished hamlet, where the dead come back to life and farmers sometimes find themselves with mischievous supernatural servants.

  • 'Tom of Finland'

    Finland

    DIRECTOR Dome Karukoski

    Pekka Strang stars as Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen in this biopic, which opened the Goteburg Film Festival. Laaksonen — known internationally as Tom of Finland — became a counterculture hero of gay liberation in the 1960s for his homoerotic illustrations.

  • 'BPM (Beats Per Minute)'

    France

    DIRECTOR Robin Campillo

    Winner of three awards — including the Grand Prix — in Cannes, Campillo’s lauded drama dives into the AIDS crisis in 1990s Paris, chronicling a group of ACT UP activists fighting a growing pandemic.

  • 'Scary Mother'

    Georgia

    Courtesy of Studio Artizm

    DIRECTOR Ana Urushadze

    The drama follows a 50-year-old housewife struggling to choose between her family life and her suppressed passion for writing. Of the 16 submissions since the country gained independence from the USSR in 1991, only one Georgian film has been nominated. 

  • 'In the Fade'

    Germany

    DIRECTOR Fatih Akin

    Diane Kruger earned the best actress award at Cannes for Akin’s 12th feature, a thriller about a German woman seeking revenge after her Kurdish husband and son are murdered in a racially motivated bomb attack. Germany narrowly missed out on the Oscar last year with its acclaimed comedy Toni Erdmann.

  • 'Amerika Square'

    Greece

    Courtesy of Yannis Sakaridis

    DIRECTOR Yannis Sakaridis

    Europe’s continuing immigration crisis provides the backdrop for this contemporary drama in which a tattoo artist, his racist friend and a Syrian refugee square off in central Athens. Greece has had five films nominated for the foreign-language Oscar (most recently Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth) but has never won.

  • 'Ayiti Mon Amour'

    Haiti

    Courtesy of TIFF

    DIRECTOR Guetty Felin

    Felin is a promising filmmaker working in the emerging post-earthquake cinema of Haiti. The first submission from the impoverished island nation is a magical fable set five years after the devastating 2010 disaster, following three people in a small southeast fishing village as they struggle to heal.

  • 'Morazan'

    Honduras

    DIRECTOR Hispano Duron

    For its first-ever Oscar submission, Honduras chose a tale centered on Francisco Morazan, one of Central America’s most revered heroes, who served as president of the Federal Republic of Central America in the late 1800s.

  • 'Mad World'

    Hong Kong

    Golden Scene

    DIRECTOR Wong Chun

    The directorial debut of a recent film school graduate, this socially conscious work and regional awards winner raised discussions about mental illness and housing shortages in Hong Kong by telling the story of a bipolar patient haunted by his love-hate relationship with his ex-fiancee while he lives with his father in a tiny sub-divided flat. Hong Kong’s historically vibrant film industry has been nominated twice in the category but has yet to claim the Oscar. 

  • 'On Body and Soul'

    Hungary

    DIRECTOR Ildiko Enyedi
     
    An unexpected Golden Bear winner in Berlin, Enyedi’s of eat romantic dramedy won over the judges with the tale of two awkward abattoir workers who dream about being animals in love. Hungary won its second Oscar in 2016 with Son of Saul.
  • 'Under the Tree'

    Iceland

    Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson
     
    Warring neighbors are the central focus of Sigurdsson’s third feature, a dramedy in which the shadow cast from one couple’s untrimmed tree into another couple’s garden leads to a feud that becomes darkly comic.
  • 'Newton'

    India

    Courtesy of Drishyam Films
    DIRECTOR Amit Masurkar
     
    The helmer’s second feature premiered in Berlin, where it won a CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) award. The political satire revolves around a government clerk sent to supervise elections in a remote, conflict-ridden jungle. Newton’s local India release coincided with its Oscar submission announcement, significantly boosting its box-office run.
  • 'Leftovers'

    Indonesia

    DIRECTOR Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo
     
    This pastoral drama centers on 10 families going about their everyday lives in a remote village in central Java. Indonesia has been sending submissions to the Academy since 1987 but is still waiting to secure its first nomination.
  • 'Breath'

    Iran

    Narges Abyar
    DIRECTOR Narges Abyar
     
    The submission from Iran, which won the 2017 Oscar with Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (and previously won in 2012 with the director’s A Separation), centers on an Iranian girl who uses folklore tales to escape the harsh realities of her upbringing in the ’70s and ’80s.
  • 'The Dark Wind'

    Iraq

    Courtesy of the Busan International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Hussein Hassan
     
    The director was initially unable to attend the January North American premiere of his movie, which follows a couple’s struggle to survive while the Islamic State seizes their town, at the Miami Film Festival because of Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Hassan eventually withdrew his visa in protest.
  • 'Song of Granite'

    Ireland

    Courtesy of Martin Maguir
    DIRECTOR Pat Collins
     
    The biopic — which was a hit at this year’s SXSW — charts the origins and rise of famed Irish folk singer Joe Heaney, considered one of the country’s most important traditional musicians. Song of Granite is only Ireland’s fourth submission to the Oscar foreign-language category.
  • 'Foxtrot'

    Israel

    DIRECTOR Samuel Maoz
     
    The film about parents mourning the loss of their soldier son swept the Ophir Awards (known as the “Israeli Oscars”) with eight nods. It also made headlines after it was denounced by Israel’s cultural minister Miri Regev, who claimed it was critical of the Israel Defense Forces (although, at the time, she had not seen the film). 
     
  • 'A Ciambra'

    Italy

    DIRECTOR Jonas Carpignano

    This raw coming-of-age drama— executive produced by Martin Scorsese — is set within a marginalized community in Southern Italy and bowed at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar. Italy has the most wins of any country in the foreign-language category with 14 (four from Federico Fellini). A Ciambra could become its 32nd nomination.

  • 'Her Love Boils Bathwater'

    Japan

    DIRECTOR Ryota Nakano
     
    Rie Miyazawa won the Japan Academy’s best actress award for her turn as a mother who tries to right her dysfunctional family after discovering she is terminally ill, with Hana Sugisaki taking best supporting actress as her daughter. The story, also written by Nakano, is set against the backdrop of Japan’s struggling traditional bathhouse businesses.
  • 'Road to Mother'

    Kazakhstan

    DIRECTOR Akan Satayev
     
    Aliya Nazarbayeva, the daughter of Kazakhstan’s long-ruling president Nursultan Nazarbayev, serves as a producer of this drama, which traces the country’s history from the 1930s to present day by focusing on several generations of one Kazakh family. Kazakhstan has submitted 12 films for consideration since gaining its independence from the USSR in 1991.
  • 'Kati Kati'

    Kenya

    Courtesy of AFI
    DIRECTOR Mbithi Masya
     
    A member of Kenya’s popular house-funk music group Just a Band, Masya has helmed many short films, commercials and music videos, but he makes his leap into features with this story about a young woman who wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of her previous life, only to discover she is dead and in the afterlife.
  • 'Unwanted'

    Kosovo

    Courtesy of Kosovo Film Center
    DIRECTOR Edon Rizvanolli
     
    After more than a decade in front of the camera, Rizvanolli swaps sides for his directorial feature debut, which bowed at Karlovy Vary and follows a troubled teenager from Kosovo who lives in exile in Holland with his mother. The film marks the decade-old nation’s fourth submission to the Oscars (the country has yet to have a film nominated).
  • 'Centaur'

    Kyrgyzstan

    Courtesy of Berlinale
    DIRECTOR Aktan Arym Kubat
     
    The country’s 10th foreign- language Oscar submission since it became independent in 1991 centers on a  lm projectionist turned horse thief who goes by the nickname Centaur. It debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February, where it won the CICAE Award.
  • 'Dearest Sister'

    Lao People's Democratic Republic

    DIRECTOR Mattie Do

    The country makes its first-ever submission with this horror-thriller about a young woman caring for her blind cousin who has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Do also is the first female director of a Lao feature film (only 13 films have been made in the country during the past decade).

  • 'The Chronicles of Melanie'

    Latvia

    Viesturs Kairiss
    DIRECTOR Viestur Kairish
     
    This biopic tells the story of Melanija Vanaga, who was exiled to a Siberian slave camp in 1941 and survived for 16 years by writing letters to her husband. The film won the best cinematography award at the 2016 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and is hoping to become Latvia’s first nomination in nine submissions.
  • 'The Insult'

    Lebanon

    Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Ziad Doueiri
     
    Doueiri’s fourth film — an explosive drama that dissects Lebanon’s religious and political divisions — already has proved controversial, with the director in September detained at Beirut’s airport. He later claimed that it was to suppress the release of the film.
  • 'Frost'

    Lithuania

    Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Sharunas Bartas

    Vanessa Paradis stars in this feature, which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. It follows a young Lithuanian couple on a road trip from the Baltics to Ukraine’s war-torn Donbass region.

  • 'Barrage'

    Luxembourg

    Courtesy of Berlinale
    DIRECTOR Laura Schroeder
     
    Three generations of women reunite and move apart over the course of a turbulent weekend in this film starring Isabelle Huppert, who was nominated for Elle at the 2017 Oscars, and her real-life daughter, Lolita Chammah. Luxembourg has submitted 14 films but has yet to receive a nom.
  • 'Tempestad'

    Mexico

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Tatiana Huezo
     
    A hard-hitting documentary that has played at more than 60 film festivals worldwide, Tempestad (Spanish for “storm”) follows two women who are loosely connected as victims of human trafficking. Mexico has scored eight Oscar nominations since the mid-1950s, including entries from Alejandro G. Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, but has never won.
  • 'The Children of Genghis'

    Mongolia

    DIRECTOR Zolbayar Dorj
     
    This family drama — centered on the traditional horse racing games that take place in the breathtaking countryside of Mongolia — follows a 12-year- old boy and his 8-year-old brother who both hope to race in the event.
  • 'Razzia'

    Morocco

    Courtesy of TIFF
    DIRECTOR Nabil Ayouch
     
    Ayouch, who in 2017 became the first Moroccan to be invited to join the Academy, has had three other films put forward as Morocco’s foreign- film submission: 1998’s Mektoub, 2000’s Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets and 2013’s Horses of God. His latest — and most ambitious — weaves together five Moroccan-set stories over a 30-year period.
  • 'The Train of Salt and Sugar'

    Mozambique

    Festival del film Locarno
    DIRECTOR Licinio Azevedo
     
    Set in Mozambique in the 1980s and following a group of people riding a train through the war-torn country, the drama marks the country’s first-ever foreign-film submission. Brazil-born helmer Azevedo spent nearly 30 years trying to tell this tale, first as a documentary and then later writing a book to adapt into the film.
  • 'Layla M.'

    Netherlands

    Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Mijke de Jong
     
    Netflix acquired international rights for this hard-hitting drama about Islamic extremism that bowed at Toronto in 2016. The film follows a radicalized Dutch-Moroccan teen girl who marries a young jihadist and travels with him to join a terror cell in the Middle East.
  • 'White Sun'

    Nepal

    DIRECTOR Deepak Rauniyar
     
    With executive producers including Danny Glover, Rauniyar’s drama is set against Nepal’s violent backdrop of the decade-long Maoist conflict that began in the mid-90s. The film follows a family divided by bloody war who must come together to put their father to rest.
     
  • 'One Thousand Ropes'

    New Zealand

    Courtesy of Berlinale

    DIRECTOR Tusi Tamasese

    The submission centers on a Samoan family living in suburban New Zealand that is reconnecting and putting to rest the ghosts that haunt them. Tamasese's 2011 debut feature, The Orator, shot in Samoa, was New Zealand's first-ever Oscar foreign-language entry and made it to the shortlist in 2012.

  • 'Thelma'

    Norway

    Courtesy of TIFF
    DIRECTOR Joachim Trier
     
    Following his English-language debut Louder Than Bombs, Trier returns to his native tongue for this stylish, Carrie-esque psychodrama about a girl raised under an oppressive religious environment whose sexual awakening sparks supernatural powers.
  • 'Saawan'

    Pakistan

    Kalkar Films
    DIRECTOR Farhan Alam
     
    Cinematographer Alam's drama is inspired by true events and centers on a handicapped 9-year-old boy who is rejected by his father and deserted in a desolate valley, left alone to die in the scorching heat.
  • 'Wajib'

    Palestine

    Courtesy of TIFF

    DIRECTOR Annemarie Jacir

    Father and son duo Mohammed and Saleh Bakri team up for this road movie in which the two drive around the streets of Nazareth delivering wedding invitations. Wajib marks Jacir’s third film submitted to the Oscars and Palestine’s 10th.

  • 'Beyond Brotherhood'

    Panama

    Courtesy of TreeHouse Studios
    DIRECTOR Arianne Benedetti
     
    Benedetti, who has directed more than 300 commercials, makes her leap to feature film with the drama, which follows two siblings as they escape their lives on the street and help to raise each other. It serves as Panama's fourth Oscar submission.
  • 'Los Buscadores'

    Paraguay

    DIRECTOR Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori
     
    This adventure thriller (the title means "the gold seekers"), which is only the second Oscar submission for the country, follows a young man who tries to unearth buried treasure on the site of an embassy.
  • 'Rosa Chumbe'

    Peru

    Courtesy of Yin Zhang Films
    DIRECTOR Jonatan Relayze
     
    The Chinese-Peruvian helmer's feature directorial debut, which uses Peru's annual commemoration of the Lord of the Miracles (a sacred Catholic artwork) as a backdrop, follows a female police officer who is forced to take care of her grandson after her daughter steals her life savings.
  • 'Birdshot'

    Philippines

    Pelikula RED

    DIRECTOR Mikhail Red

    The second feature from 24-year-old phenom Red — equal parts coming-of-age drama and thriller — tells the story of young girl who accidentally shoots an endangered eagle and how she and her father handle the consequences.

  • 'Spoor'

    Poland

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Agnieszka Holland
     
    Three years ago, Ida won Poland its first foreign-language Oscar in 10 nominations. Holland — who received a nomination in 2011 for In Darkness — hopes to make the trip to the Dolby Theatre again for this murder mystery based around a militant animal rights advocate.
  • 'Saint George'

    Portugal

    DIRECTOR Marco Martins
     
    Portugal's economic woes set the scene for this bleak tale of Jorge, an unemployed former boxer who's forced to become a debt collector and fight to prevent his wife and child from leaving the country.
  • 'Fixeur'

    Romania

    Adrian Sitaru
    DIRECTOR Adrian Sitaru
     
    The Romanian-French co-production, which premiered at Toronto in 2016, follows a young journalist — an Afghan refugee struggling to make his way in a small California town — who questions the moral boundaries of his pro­fession while chasing a story about an underage prostitute.
  • 'Loveless'

    Russia

    Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Andrey Zvyagintsev

    Premiering at Cannes, where it won a jury prize, this drama follows a divorcing couple whose 12-year-old son goes missing. This marks the third time Russia has selected a film by Zvyagintsev as its submission. The director's previous feature, Leviathan, garnered an Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for foreign-language film.

  • 'Felicite'

    Senegal

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Alain Gomis
     
    The documentary-style love-and-survival story about a struggling singer and single mother — who must find the money for life-saving surgery for her son — won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival before it was selected as the country's first-ever foreign-film submission.
  • 'Requiem for Mrs. J'

    Serbia

    Courtesy of Berlinale
    DIRECTOR Bojan Vuletic
     
    In Vuletic's Kafkaesque comedy, which bowed in Berlin's Panorama section, a widow stuck in a downward spiral of depression plans to secretly end it all on the anniversary of her husband's death.
  • 'Pop Aye'

    Singapore

    Courtesy of Sundance
    DIRECTOR Kirsten Tan
     
    This tender but mysterious road movie stars Thaneth Warakulnukroh as a down-and-out architect who is reunited with his childhood elephant, sending the two on a trip across Thailand together. Tan's debut feature, it would be Singapore's first short-list contender if nominated.
  • 'The Line'

    Slovakia

    Courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

    DIRECTOR Peter Bebjak

    Since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993, Slovakia has submitted 21 films for the Oscars. Its latest is a crime drama that revolves around a gang of smugglers bringing Ukrainian contraband into the European Union in the fall of 2007.

  • 'Miner'

    Slovenia

    Courtesy of the Slovenski Filmski Center
    DIRECTOR Hanna Antonina Wojcik Slak
     
    The drama is based on the true story of a Bosnian miner who migrated to Slovenia. While on the job, he discovers the remains of victims of post-World War II reprisal killings and works to secure a decent burial.
  • 'The Wound'

    South Africa

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Urucu Media
    DIRECTOR John Trengove
     
    Trengove's debut feature is set against the backdrop of the traditional Xhosa initiation ceremony. The film had stops at Sundance and Berlin before being chosen to represent South Africa, which won the Oscar in 2006 with Gavin Hood's Tsotsi.
  • 'A Taxi Driver'

    South Korea

    DIRECTOR Hun Jang
     
    A Taxi Driver follows a German journalist who accidentally gets pulled into South Korea's 1980 Gwangju Uprising, a landmark political event that brought democracy to the country. This marks the third consecutive year that a film starring Snowpiercer actor Song Kang-ho has been chosen as South Korea's foreign-language Oscar contender, following The Age of Shadows and The Throne.
  • 'Summer 1993'

    Spain

    Courtesy of Inicia Films
    DIRECTOR Carla Simon
     
    Spain hasn't had a nomination since it won its fourth foreign-language Oscar in 2004 but hopes to change the story with Simon's debut feature. A winner in Berlin's Generation Kplus sidebar, Summer 1993 follows an orphaned girl's troubled life with her new family.
  • 'The Square'

    Sweden

    DIRECTOR Ruben Ostlund
     
    Ostlund's hit Force Majeure earned a Golden Globe nod in 2014, but his latest, an art world-skewering satire — which snatched Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or — could land him an Oscar nomination. The film features a strong cast including Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Danish actor Claes Bang and a star turn from a bonobo monkey called Tiboo.
  • 'The Divine Order'

    Switzerland

    DIRECTOR Petra Volpe
     
    Volpe's period piece dramatizes the long-fought battle for women's suffrage in Switzerland through the eyes of a 1971 housewife. At the last Oscars, My Life as a Courgette nearly earned the country two nominations (it eventually made the shortlist for best animation and the December long list for foreign language).
  • 'Little Gandhi'

    Syria

    DIRECTOR Sam Kadi
     
    The documentary about famed Syrian peace activist Ghiyath Matar serves as Syria's first-ever submission. Kadi, a Syria native and American citizen, was able to make the film without setting foot in the war-torn country by recruiting activists on the ground to book and conduct interviews. It already has made its way around the world, screening for various government officials (including the U.S. Congress in 2016).
  • 'Small Talk'

    Taiwan

    Courtesy of Hui-Chen Huang
    DIRECTOR Hui-Chen Huang
     
    This intimate portrait of a daughter's dialogue with her lesbian Taoist priestess mother is the first-ever documentary submission from Taiwan. It was a 20-year labor of love for the director, who chronicled her mother's many love affairs and rootless upbringing and her father's abuse.
  • 'By the Time It Gets Dark'

    Thailand

    Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
    DIRECTOR Anocha Suwichakornpong
     
    This sophomore feature revolves around a director's attempt to make a movie about the 1976 massacre of pro-democracy student protesters in Bangkok. Characters shift identities and scenes play out more than once with different results in a challenging examination of history, reality, memory and movies themselves.
  • 'The Last of Us'

    Tunisia

    Courtesy of Still Moving
    DIRECTOR Ala Eddine Slim
     
    The dialogue-free film premiered at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Lion of the Future honor. Slim's debut feature, which touts a mystical storyline, centers on a young man attempting to emigrate from Tunisia.
  • 'Ayla: The Daughter of War'

    Turkey

    Courtesy of Dijital Sanatlar Production
    DIRECTOR Can Ulkay
     
    Set in 1950 during the Korean War, Ulkay's debut — based on a real story — tells the tale of a Turkish soldier who comes across an abandoned 5-year-old girl and decides to look after her.
  • 'Black Level'

    Ukraine

    Courtesy of Odessa IFF
    DIRECTOR Valentyn Vasyanovych
     
    The submission from Ukraine, which has yet to receive an Oscar nomination, follows a 50-year-old wedding photographer whose midlife crisis is exacerbated when those he loves — from his girlfriend to his cat — leave his life.
  • 'My Pure Land'

    United Kingdom

    DIRECTOR Sarmad Masud
     
    The U.K.'s first Urdu-language submission tells the true story of a mother and her two daughters in rural Pakistan forced to defend their land from a militia of 200 bandits. The U.K. — which has only been submitting films to the foreign-language category since 1991 — has two nominations under its belt so far.
  • 'Another Story of the World'

    Uruguay

    DIRECTOR Guillermo Casanova
     
    The satire inspired by the country's dictatorship during the late 1970s and early '80s revolves around two friends living in the fictitious town of Mosquitos who plan an uprising against the local authorities.
  • 'El Inca'

    Venezuela

    DIRECTOR Ignacio Castillo Cottin
     
    The submission follows the story of real-life world champion boxer Edwin Valero, from his meteoric rise to tragic death following his arrest on the suspicion of killing his wife. El Inca was banned from screening in its native Venezuela because of a court injunction by Valero's family.
  • 'Father and Son'

    Vietnam

    DIRECTOR Luong Dinh Dung
     
    A family drama set in a small riverside fishing village, the submission has picked up awards at festivals from Milan to Boston. Adapted from a short story written by the director in 1995, the film follows the relationship between a young boy and his blind father. Ten years in the making, it would be Vietnam's second nomination if it gets the nod.
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