Oscars: Senegal Selects 'Atlantics' for International Feature Film Category

Atlantics - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

Netflix picked up worldwide rights to Mati Diop's debut feature after it won the Grand Prix in Cannes, the first film from a black female director to play in competition in the festival's 72-year history.

Senegal has picked Mati Diop's Cannes festival winner Atlantics as its official entry for the 2020 Oscars in the best international feature category.

The film made history before it even premiered, becoming the first title from a black female director to be selected for competition in Cannes in that festival's 72-year history. Diop's debut went on to win the festival's' Grand Prix honor.

Atlantics is the story of a blossoming love between Souleiman, a young, exploited construction worker (Ibrahima Traoré), and Ada (Mama Sané), who is about to be forced into an unwanted arranged marriage with a wealthier man. Fed up with the conditions at home, Souleiman and his co-workers decide to leave via the ocean for a better future in Europe. They disappear but, somehow, Ada still feels Souleiman's presence in Senegal.

Netflix acquired worldwide rights to Atlantics outside of China, Benelux, Switzerland, Russia and France shortly after its Cannes bow and will do a limited theatrical release for the film Nov.15. Atlantics will roll out on the streamer Nov.29.

Senegal has never been nominated for an Oscar and only three African films have ever won an Academy Award in what used to be called the best foreign-language category: Costa-Gavras' Z for Algeria in 1969, Jean-Jacques Annaud's Black and White in Color for Ivory Coast in 1976 and Gavin Hood's Tsotsi for South Africa in 2005.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominations for the International Feature Film Oscar on Jan. 13, 2020. The winner will be announced on Oscar night in Los Angeles on Feb. 9.