Oscars: Russia Nominates 'Sunstroke' for Foreign-Language Category

Russian Oscar entry 'Sunstroke' - H 2015
Courtesy of Trite Studio

The latest film by 1995 Oscar-winner Nikita Mikhalkov is set against the backdrop of Russia's early 20th century civil war.

Russia has nominated Nikita Mikhalkov's Solnechny Udar (Sunstroke) for the best foreign-language Oscar race.

Based on a short story by Ivan Bunin, the first Russian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1933, the film tells a love story, set against the backdrop of the Russian civil war of the late 1910s and early 1920s.

The $21 million movie was released in Russia in October 2014 and grossed $1.7 million, according to local movie database KinoPoisk. In early 2015, Sunstroke was celebrated at the local awards show Golden Eagles, believed to be close to Mikhalkov. Sunstroke won in the best film, production design, costume design, cinematography and music categories.

Although the last time a Russian film won an Oscar was in 1995 for Mikhalkov's Stalin-era set Utomlennye solntsem (Burnt by the Sun), some Russian film critics questioned the nomination of Sunstroke.

They argued that the film has only a slim chance of making the Oscar shortlist, let alone a chance at seriously competing for the best foreign-language film statuette, as it hasn't taken part in any major international film festival. The only international film event in which Sunstroke participated was the Shanghai Film Festival, where it collected the best cinematography award.

Mikhalkov is known for his support for Russia's policies towards Ukraine and Crimea.

Last year's Russia's Oscar entry, Andrei Zvyagintsev's Leviathan, was among the favorites to win the foreign-language film Oscar after winning the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation's Golden Globe, but the Oscar went to Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a black-and-white film set in the 1960s about a would-be Catholic nun who discovers her family is Jewish.