71 Foreign Films Eye Oscar
Oct. 8 2012-Seventy-one countries have entered films for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, which is the gold standard in awards for non-English-language movies. The third edition of Marketing to Moviegoers, which will be published in January 2013, has an expanded section on awards marketing for Oscars and collateral awards.
Word today of the nominees for the 71 countries—which is nominally a record number though just above the count in past years—range from Afghanistan to Vietnam, and also all the big nations such as France, Japan, Italy and Spain.
Kenya is a first time participant and Cambodia submitted its first film in two decades. In September, Iran said it is boycotting the Oscars because of an anti-Islam video; an Iranian film -- family drama A Separation --won last year
The 71 are broken into three groups that get screened by different groups of members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences who volunteer to screen. Since most of the foreign films have not been distributed commercially in the United States, they are a category that require special academy screenings.
The three groups will select a “short list” of nine films and that will be whittled down to five nominees for Best Foreign Film.
“The Oscar choices are sometimes controversial,” says the third edition of Marketing to Moviegoers, which comes out next January. “AMPAS voters declined to nominate acclaimed Italian mafia drama Gomorrah that nonetheless grossed a decent-for-a-foreign-film $1.6 million in 2008 domestic box office via IFC Films. Gomorrah generated box office in cinemas around the world. Academy members also snubbed Romania’s acclaimed 2007 abortion drama 4 Months,3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the (Cannes Fest) Golden Palm.”
Yet, for all its flaws, a foreign film Oscar elevates a film around the world because of overall consistent excelence of winners. That's not the case for film festival and other national awards, which are often skewed by industry and political pressures.
Adds the third edition of Marketing to Moviegoers, “A marketing campaign for a film submitted as its national entry typically requires the expenditure of $5,000 to $10,000 to hire a publicist to bring it to the attention of Oscar voters and additional thousands or tens of thousands of dollar for promotion, such as trade-newspaper ads and industry screenings. Often, export promotion agencies in the country of origin pick up this Oscar marketing expense.”
Marketing to Moviegoers notes that controversies often erupt in foreign countries over selected films, which are disputes the academy sidesteps. The academy leaves the choice to foreign national entities; the academy enforces only minimal requirements for qualificaiton such as national control and release time frame.
Nominees will be announced Jan. 10, 2013. The televised awards is scheduled Feb. 24. The academy inaugurated foreign films as an official and regular category in 1956.
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