Oscars: Iceland Nominates 'Of Horses and Men' for Foreign Language Category

Benedikt Erlingsson's feature debut had its international premiere at San Sebastian this week.

In the words of one well-respected British film critic, who saw the international premiere of Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson's feature debut, Of Horses and Men, at the San Sebastian Film Festival, this is a film that "were it not for its extremely adult themes … might make a gentle family film."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw's short YouTube clip, which recorded his comments on a mobile telephone video, are among the first international reactions to a film announced on Tuesday as Iceland's official contender for the foreign language Oscar.

Set in a remote Icelandic community of hose-breeders and small holders, it is, Bradshaw says, "a tale of the sex life and death life of horses," where the animals perform roles in dramatic terms almost equivalent to the human cast.

Described by the Icelandic Film Center, which supported its production, as "a country romance about the human streak in the horse and the horse in the human," where "love and death become interlaced … with immense consequences," it likely ranks as one of the more unusual international contenders for this year's Academy Awards.

The 85-minute film, dubbed a drama and comedy by its producers, was written and directed by Erlingsson, a well-known actor and theater director in the north Atlantic island nation.

It is produced by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, a director himself whose film Children of Nature was nominated by Iceland for a best foreign language Oscar in 1992.

Of Horses and Men is playing in San Sebastian's New Directors section and next month heads for the Tokyo International Film Festival's competition.