To be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, films must fulfill several requirements such as the "one-country-one-film" rule that stipulates that each country can only pick a single nominee per year. This rule is designed to help countries with minor film industries with major releases from established filmmaking nations. Yet the rule has come under fire in instances where worthwhile films are ignored in lieu of a country’s one nominee.
Last month, “Bad Hair” (“Pelo Malo”) received the Golden Shell as the top film at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival. The selection jury unanimously backed the Venezuelan-Peruvian and German production that depicts a “modern day cultural complexity and a young boy’s emerging identity guided by his single mother”.
“I made this film to liberate myself from the angst of so much intolerance. Being different isn’t a problem. Just the opposite. It is beautiful,” said Mariana Rondon, the Venezuelan director of “Bad Hair.”
Even though “Bad Hair” was eligible for nomination to the upcoming Oscars, “Breach in the Silence” ("Brecha en el silencio") was picked to represent Venezuela. The drama directed by brothers Andres and Luis Rodriguez spotlights domestic violence and its negative effects on families.
The movie has played at a number of festivals around the world though it has not garnered the same critical acclaim as “Bad Hair.” (As noted by the Latinos Post, one critic said that “'Breach in the Silence' is perhaps most notable for creating a lot of flash and noise, but providing little substance.”)
Was “Bad Hair” overlooked due to Rondon’s supposedly controversial remarks on “intolerance in a polarized country”? Or did the selection committee opt for a superior film with a better chance of being reaching the Academy’s shortlist? Judge for yourselves by viewing excepts from both films below the page break.
October 1st was the deadline for submissions for the top foreign language film at the Oscars. In January, a nine-film shortlist will be chosen followed by the five finalists. The Academy Awards will be presented on March 2nd.
Our next “Nuestro Cine” entry will look at the pick from the Latin American country with the most nominations for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film without a win.
Video Source– YouTube via users Fundacion Villa del Cine and TIFF
Online Sources – Latinos Post; The Hollywood Reporter; El Universal