Movies

Susanne Bier, Rajendra Roy to Head Committee for Oscars Slow-Starting International Race (Exclusive)

Only 26 countries have announced their submissions so far, less than a third the number that had done so by this point last year

Susanne Bier: AMPAS / Rajendra Roy: Getty Images

AWARDS BEAT

Susanne Bier and Rajendra Roy have been named co-chairs of the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee overseeing the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film category.

Bier will be returning for her second year as co-chair. Roy, the first person of color to head the committee, will be replacing screenwriter Larry Karaszewski, who was forced to relinquish the position under new Academy term limits that mandate a two-year hiatus after six consecutive years on an AMPAS committee.

The appointment of Bier and Roy was announced by the Academy in an email to members of the committee on Friday.

They will be overseeing the category in a year in which submissions are running behind the usual timetable. With submissions due by Nov. 1, 23 countries have thus far announced their entries in this year’s race. That’s less than half the number that have typically announced by this point in the Oscar calendar, and less than a third of the 80 countries that had announced last year by this stage.

Last year’s field set a record with 93 qualifying films, though it’s unlikely that this year will top that number.

So far, the highest-profile films that have been announced include two films that played this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton (Colombia), and Nabil Ayouch’s “Casablanca Beats” (Morocco), as well as the German entry, Maria Schrader’s “I’m Your Man,” with Dan Stevens as a cyborg programmed to be the perfect man. Spain would have had by far the best-known film it had chosen Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers,” starring Penelope Cruz – but instead it submitted Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s comedy “The Good Boss,” starring Cruz’s husband, Javier Bardem.  

For the second consecutive year, the Academy will not be holding in-person screenings of the qualifying films. Instead, volunteers from all members of AMPAS will be invited to view the contenders in a special members-only online screening room devoted to the category. That screening room is expected to open within the next week and to be fully stocked with the eligible entries shortly after the Nov. 1 deadline. Members who see a minimum number of films (12 last year) will qualify to vote.

Shortlist voting in the category will run from Dec. 10-15 this year, with the shortlist of 15 films announced on Dec. 21. Nomination voting will begin on Jan. 27, 2022.

The category underwent a huge change last year with the expansion of the shortlist from 10 to 15 films, and the elimination of a hand-picked committee that in the past had chosen three films to fill out a list that is otherwise made up of voters’ favorites. That new system, which helps films with widespread appeal over more exotic or challenging ones, will remain in place this year.

Susanne Bier directed the 2010 film “In a Better World,” which won the Oscar in what was then the Best Foreign Language Film category. More recently, she has directed multiple episodes of the limited series “The Night Manager” and “The Undoing,” winning an Emmy for the former show. Rajendra Roy, a member of the Academy in the Members-at-Large section, is the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Here’s the list of the films that have been announced by their home countries. Submission by a country does not guarantee that the film will qualify; the Academy still needs to vet every entry to make sure it’s predominantly in a non-English language and that it has enough creative control from the country that submitted it.

Albania: “Two Lions Heading to Venice”
Armenia: “Should the Wind Drop”
Cambodia: “White Building”
Canada: “Drunken Birds”
Colombia: “Memoria”
Croatia: “Tereza37”
Ecuador: “Sumergible”
Germany: “I’m Your Man”
Greece: “Digger”
Hungary: “Post Mortem”
Ireland: “Foscadh”
Israel: “Let There Be Morning”
Kosovo: “Hive”
Kyrgyzstan: “Shambala”
Morocco: “Casablanca Beats”
Netherlands: “Do Not Hesitate”
Peru: “Powerful Chief”
Poland: “Leave No Traces”
Serbia: “Oasis”
Slovenia: “Sanremo”
Somalia: “The Gravedigger’s Wife”
South Korea: “Escape From Mogadishu”
Spain: “The Good Boss”
Switzerland: “Olga”
Taiwan: “The Falls”
Ukraine: “Bad Roads”

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