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The Russian Oscar committee has selected Andrei Konchalovsky’s Rai (Paradise), which recently won a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, as the country’s submission in the best foreign-language film category of the Academy Awards.
The veteran director’s German-Russian co-production is set during WWII and centers on Olga, a Russian noblewoman arrested in occupied France for helping to shelter Jewish children; Jules, a French police officer; and Helmut, a Nazi officer.
Incidentally, two years ago, Konchalovsky requested that his movie The Postman’s White Nights, which also brought him a Silver Lion at Venice, be withdrawn from consideration for the foreign-language Oscar race.
Back then, he said he didn’t want his film to compete for a “Hollywood” award, arguing its importance was overblown. This time, however, he had no objections to his film’s selection as Russia’s Oscar submission.
“So far, I have been out of it,” Konchalovsky was quoted as saying by the news agency TASS. “Okay, I’ll have to accept it.”
Konchalovsky took part in the Venice Film Festival for the first time back in 1965, with his debut feature The First Teacher.
In 2002, his film House of Fools won the Grand Special Jury Prize at Venice and was later selected as Russia’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race, but it failed to be nominated.
Russian and Soviet films have been shortlisted in the best foreign-language category 15 times and have won the award four times. The most recent winner was Burnt by the Sun by Nikita Mikhalkov, Konchalovsky’s brother, in 1994. The most recently nominated film was Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan in 2015.