Oscars 2021: the surprise of three African films in the list of shortlisted films

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“Of them”, by Filippo Meneghetti, will represent France. The Tunisian film “The man who sold his skin “ by Kaouther Ben Hania and the Ivorian feature film “The night of kings de Philippe Lacôte were also retained in the list of 15 films shortlisted for Best International Film. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cannes Film Festival seems to have lost its influence at the Oscars, to the benefit of the Venice Film Festival and Netflix.

The list of shortlisted films was published Tuesday evening February 9 on the Academy Awards website. Among the 15 films selected for the Best International Film category, there are no less than five films scheduled for the Venice International Film Festival 2020! The Mostra is thus very strengthened in its role of prescriber for the most important cinema prizes at the world level. The Cannes Film Festival, whose on-site competition was canceled and replaced by a “Cannes 2020” label awarded to 56 films, must be satisfied with a single Oscar-shortlisted film, Drunk, by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg. Even the film sent by France, Of them, by Filippo Meneghetti, the passionate love story of two retirees, was not found among the 21 French feature films labeled “Cannes 2020”.

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Even Netflix is ​​doing better, with two feature films in the Best Foreign Film category: I’m no longer here, by Mexican Fernando Frias, featuring a bunch of teenage fans of cumbia music, and Taiwanese drama A Sun, from Mong-Hong Chung.

The Oscars 2021, when the Mostra and Netflix double the Cannes Film Festival

Pressured by the meteoric rise of platforms and the closure of cinemas, the Cannes Film Festival (which has already postponed its 2021 edition to July) seems to have lost its rank since the start of the crisis caused by the coronavirus. It must be remembered that last year, Parasite, the Palme d’Or of the Cannes Film Festival, had achieved a historic feat by winning at the Oscars not only the trophy for Best Foreign Film, but also that for Best Film.

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Since the advent of the pandemic, at the level of film festivals, the Venice Film Festival seems to have reversed the balance of power. Among the films of the official selection of the Mostra in September 2020, five are among the 15 remaining candidates for the Best international film at the Oscars and another is well positioned for the Best documentary film, Nocturnal, by Francesco Rosi.

Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia) and Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast)

The man who sold his skin, of Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania, whose actor Yahya Mahayni won the prize for Best Male Performance in Venice, is also in the home stretch for the Oscar race. This is also the case with The night of kings (Ivory Coast), Philippe Lacote, a mind-boggling staging featuring innovative and ambitious cinematic writing to tell an insane story set in one of West Africa’s most overcrowded prisons, Maca.

Quo Vadis, Aïda?, by Jasmila Zbanic, left empty-handed from the Mostra 2020, represents Bosnia-Herzegovina. Children of the Sun, a film by Majid Majidi, whose street child turned actor, Rouhollah Zamani, crowned in Venice with the Marcello Mastroianni Prize for best young performer, was also selected on the list.

Members of the prestigious Academy of Oscars have not forgotten either Dear Comrades!. At the Mostra, Russian Andrei Kontchalovsky won the Special Jury Prize. And the Golden Lion 2020, Nomadland, by Chinese-American director Chloé Zhao, also remains in the Oscar race.

► To read also: “Da Yie”, by Anthony Nti, “a foreigner in Ghana”

Among the 174 films qualified for the Best Short Film category, ten were selected, including The Human Voice, by Pedro Almodovar, also presented in Venice, but also Da Yie, realized by Belgian director Anthony Nti, born in Ghana and winner of the International Grand Prix of the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival 2020 for his strange story of a stranger in his native country.

Following the pandemic, the American Academy of Sciences and Cinema Arts chose to include not ten, but fifteen feature films in its preselection for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The next step will take place on March 15: only five films will then be selected for the final list before the Oscars are awarded on April 25.

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Oscars 2021: the surprise of three African films in the list of shortlisted films

Hank Gilbert