Oscars: New Zealand Selects 'A Flickering Truth' for Foreign-Language Category

'A Flickering Truth' still - H 2016
Courtesy of New Zealand Film Commission

The Afghanistan-set documentary premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.

A documentary in the local Afghan Dari language, which follows the restoration of Afghanistan’s film archives, is New Zealand’s submission for the best foreign-language film category for the 2017 Academy Awards.

A Flickering Truth, produced and directed by Pietra Brettkelly had its world premiere at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, where it screened in the Venice Classics section. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.

The film documents the preservation of Afghanistan’s film archive, following three men who have dedicated decades to protecting Afghan films from the ravages of war and Kabul’s extreme weather and hiding the archives from the destructive forces of the Taliban. Now they are restoring the collection of films in a bid to save the thousands of hours of cinema that document modern Afghanistan, from the time of King Amanullah Khan in the 1920s to the invasion of the Russians and the days when women wore miniskirts. 

New Zealand Film Commission CEO Dave Gibson, who chairs the selection panel for the country's Oscar entries, said: “Pietra Brettkelly is an uncompromising and courageous filmmaker with a singular cinematic voice and vision. The selection committee and the New Zealand Film Commission are very pleased to endorse A Flickering Truth and we congratulate Pietra and her team.”

New Zealand submitted Samoan-language film The Orator as its first-ever entry in the foreign-language film category for the Academy Awards in 2011. The nation also submitted Maori-language features White Lies and The Dead Lands in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The country has never been nominated in the category.

A Flickering Truth is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Umbrella Entertainment and is currently in limited release in New Zealand cinemas. The Film Sales Company is handling international sales.