20,000 species of bees, by Estibaliz Urresola; Close Your Eyes, by Víctor Erice, and The Snow Society, by Juan Antonio Bayona, are the three Spanish films shortlisted for the Oscar for best international film. The reading was carried out this morning by the actress Natalia de Molina, the director and screenwriter Borja Cobeaga and the producer Esther García at the Film Academy. All three are also members of the Hollywood Academy. There were 42 films in this first round. Now a second vote begins and the result, the name of the Spanish representative for the Oscar for best international film, will be made public on September 20.
Close your eyes, by Víctor Erice, is the first feature film in 30 years from the director of The spirit of the hive, which will receive the Donostia award at the San Sebastián festival on September 29, just the day his film is commercially released. . The film begins its plot when a television program locates a veteran filmmaker, former writer, who, retired, dedicates himself to fishing. This director, Miguel Garay (played by Manolo Solo), made a poorly released first film, and the second was left unfinished decades ago when the protagonist, Julio Arenas (José Coronado), a friend since Garay’s youth, and a successful heartthrob, in the cinema, he disappeared in the middle of filming. Only some sequences of that second feature film are finished and will now be broadcast on television. The investigation of the television program causes an emotional earthquake in the filmmaker, the reunion with his past and the memory of his friendship with the actor. The film moved at its first screening in Cannes.
Víctor Erice, with Ana Torrent on the filming of ‘Close your eyes’. Manolo Pavón
20,000 species of bees, by Estibaliz Urresola, premiered at the last Berlin festival, where it won the award for best lead performance for the girl Sofía Otero. The protagonist of it is an eight-year-old trans girl: Aitor on paper, Coco for her mother, Lucía inside her. She, along with her mother and her older brothers, moves from Bayonne (France), where she lives, to a town in the Spanish Basque Country to visit her maternal family for a few days. There she will suffer the contrast of the gazes of the adults and the family, who pigeonhole her as Aitor, with that of a new friend (“At my school I know another girl with a penis,” she tells him) or that of her great-aunt, a beekeeper who will serve as a revealing mirror of the situation so that the mother (Patricia López Arnaiz) can assume what Lucía feels.
Sofía Otero and Patricia López de Arnaiz, in ‘20,000 species of bees’.
The Snow Society, by Juan Antonio Bayona, recreates the accident in which a Uruguayan Fairchild crashed in the Chilean Andes on October 13, 1972. On board, five crew and 40 passengers: 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby team, and family, supporters and friends. Three crew members and 10 passengers died in the impact. The first night, due to the 30 degrees below zero and the injuries, four more died. On the tenth day, due to an avalanche that buried the remains of the fuselage, another eight died. And four more died at various times during the 72 days isolated in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, feeding first on the few provisions that were in the suitcases and, later, on the bodies of the deceased. The film is Netflix’s big bet for this edition of the Oscars, and it will close the Venice Film Festival on Saturday. Before its premiere on the platform, probably at the end of the year, it will be released in theaters. From the Italian city, Bayona and the producers Sandra Hermida and Belén Atienza have thanked the support of the academics, who feel in the best hands, those of Netflix, and the director, who has accompanied many of the screenings for voters, has confessed his nerves just before the reading.
The first Oscar screening for best international film will take place on December 21, when the 15 shortlists are announced. The five candidates will be made public, along with the rest of the nominations, on January 23, 2024. The 96th edition of the Oscars will be held on March 10 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, the usual home of the ceremony.
In this category, films of any format (documentary, fiction, animation, hybrids of formats) of at least 40 minutes in length and with dialogues that cannot exceed 50% in English compete. In addition, they have had to be released in their country of origin between December 1, 2022 and October 31, 2023.
In the last edition, 92 countries were presented and 40 of them were European. In the final quintet were the Belgian Close, the Polish EO, the Irish The Quiet Girl, the Argentinian Argentina, 1985, and the German Uneventful on the Front, who in the end took the statuette.
There are several countries that have already presented their candidates: the Netherlands (Sweet Dreams), Japan (Perfect Days, by Win Wenders, which at the last Cannes festival won the best actor award for Koji Yakusho), Tunisia (Four Daughters, a curious hybrid docufiction), Canada (Rojek), Chile (The Colonists, by Felipe Gálvez), Germany (Teachers’ Room), Bolivia (The Visitor), Switzerland (Thunder), Australia (Shayda, with Cate Blanchett as executive producer and the Iranian Zar Amir Ebrahimi as the protagonist), Colombia (A Man), Peru (The Erection of Toribjo Bardelli), Uruguay (My Own Themes), South Korea (Concrete Utopia), Estonia (Smoke Sauna Sisterhood), Taiwan (My Wedding with a ghost), Croatia (Traces) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Excursion).
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