HitFix, by Guy Lodge (August 17, 2012) — I’m surprised it’s taken this long for me to have to write one of these posts — international submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar usually start trickling through in July or so. So expect a lot more of these announcements before the October 1 deadline for submissions. We’ll be keeping track of them — or doing our best to, as they begin flooding in in the thick of festival season — on our Contenders page for the category.
Anyway, Morocco is first out of the gate this year, having selected Faouzi Bensaidi’s socially-minded thriller “Death for Sale” as their best hope for awards glory. Perhaps the country’s selectors are feeling a little more confident, having unexpectedly cracked the nine-film longlist for the first time back in January with the under-the-radar prison drama “Omar Killed Me,” and therefore having come tantalizingly close to their first Oscar nomination. Not a prolific film industry by any means, Morocco has only entered the race eight times since 1977.
For those of you who don’t know the drill in this eternally tricky category, here’s how it works. Rather than selecting the Best Foreign Language Film nominees from the year’s eligible releases in the US, as is the system in all other feature film categories (including, as of this year, Best Documentary Feature), the Academy instead invites all countries to independently submit one film to represent their industry in the race. It needn’t be a 2012 release in the US — though it does have to have been released in its home country at some point in the 12 months preceding the October 1 deadline.