Saudi Arabia's first ever candidate for the foreign language Oscar is among 76 movies on the Academy Award long-list announced Monday, while Pakistan has entered its first film in five decades.
The long list, which has a record number of movies up for Oscars glory, was initially expected to be announced last Friday, but was held up as Academy bigwigs checked that all of them meet the eligibility criteria, industry journal Variety reported.
The Saudi entry, “Wadjda” by Haifaa al-Mansour, is an avowedly feminist movie about a young girl’s quest to own a bicycle in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom where women are deprived of many rights, among them driving.
Directed by Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and shot entirely in the Gulf state, the film won best Arabic feature award at the Dubai Film Festival last year and picked up an award in Cannes in March.
For Pakistan, “Zinda Bhaag” (“Flee Alive”) is the first Oscar entry for over 50 years. It is a comedy-thriller about three young men trying to escape the drudgery of their everyday lives through unconventional means.
The candidates are submitted by their individual countries, some of whom had already announced their choices.
The full list of foreign language films in competition can be seen at http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2013/20131007a.html.
The last foreign language Oscar winner was Austrian Michael Haneke’s “Amour” (“Love”) — which had already won the Cannes Palme D’Or last year. Iran’s “A Separation” took the category the year before that.
The shortlist of five foreign film nominees will be announced on January 16 next year, and the winner unveiled at the Academy Awards ceremony, to be held on Sunday, March 2, 2014.