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Daniel Ribeiro’s The Way He Looks will be Brazil’s submission for the best foreign-language film category at the 2015 Oscars.
Brazil’s minister of culture, Marta Suplicy, announced the decision on Thursday at the Brazilian Cinematheque in Sao Paulo, according to a government release.
“The selected film delivers an original story, a solid script with a universal language, and is also a work of extreme sensibility that addresses teenage issues in extreme situations,” said Suplicy. “I’m happy with this choice.”
The film, starring Ghilherme Lobo and Fabio Audi, is a feature-length version of Ribeiro’s 17-minute short from 2010, and a winner of the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the Berlin Film Festival last February.
In The Way He Looks, Lobo plays Leonardo, a young gay teen who has been blind since birth and gets walked back home from school every day by his best friend, Giovana (Tess Amorim). Their familiar and safe routine is upset when Gabriel (Fabio Audi) joins their class and becomes friends with Leo, who develops a crush on the boy.
In their statement, the Teddy Award Jury described the film as “a joyous debut feature from a director who combines great writing, characterization, performance, camera, and music to deliver a film that soars above the well-explored coming of age genre, giving new meaning to the old adage love is blind.”
The Way He Looks also won audience awards at the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival and at LGBT festivals in New York, San Francisco, and Turin. The film is scheduled for U.S. release on Nov. 7 by Strand Release.
“We’ve seen how well this film connects to audiences and critics alike,” said Strand co-presidents Jon Gerrans and Marcus Hu in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The Way He Looks is definitely one of the films that we’re thrilled to be working on and hope Oscar voters respond to the film the way we have embraced it.”
Brazil’s Oscar candidate was picked from a shortlist of 18 features by a special commission made up of five film-industry professionals: filmmaker Jeferson De, film journalist Luis Erlanger, General Coordinator of Sustainable Audiovisual Development Sylvia Regina Bahiense Naves, Latin American Television Council head Orlando de Salles Senna, and George Torquato Firmeza, the head of the Foreign Office’s Cultural Department.
The last Brazilian film that made it to the Best Foreign Language Film nominations was Walter Salles‘ Golden Globe winner Central Station, in 1999.
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