The shortlist of ten films in the running to be nominated in the category of International Feature Film (formerly known as Foreign Language Film) for the 92nd Academy Awards was revealed in December. Out of these ten films, eight are European films.
There were 93 countries in the running this year to be nominated for International Feature Film. In the rules for this category, each country is only allowed to nominate one film (this is the reason why, for example, this year Ladj Ly’s Les Miserables is France’s nomination, and thus Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire was not in the running for this category).
The most controversial rule is that this category only nominates films whose predominant language is not English (this was the reason given to disqualify Nigeria’s entry Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart).
Here are the ten films in this year’s shortlist:
Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, Czech Republic
Tanner Toom’s Truth and Justice, Estonia
Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables, France
Tamara Koteska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s Honeyland, North Macedonia
Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi, Poland
Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, Russia
Mati Diop’s Atlantics, Senegal
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, South Korea
Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, Spain
The one film that stands out in this list is Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s Honeyland, the only documentary nominated in this category. It has, in fact, also been shortlisted for the award in Documentary Feature. The film follows the last female wild beekeeper in Europe: Hatidze Muratova lives within an isolated mountain region in the Balkans, but encounters challenges with the arrival of an itinerant family that threaten the lives of the bees.
The film was praised at this year’s Sundance, where it won the Sundance Grand Prize in the World Documentary Film Program, as well as a Special Jury Award for cinematography, and another Special Jury Award for Originality. It was then picked up for North American distribution by Neon, who also distributes Parasite. Honeyland was released theatrically in the U.S. in July and grossed over $700,000. It was released in the U.K. in September and it’s is available to stream on Amazon.
It is the first North Macedonian film to be shortlisted for the Oscars since 1994, the year it started submitting films for the award. That year, Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain was nominated.