Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway and Serbia have become the latest countries to choose their 2011 submissions for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Foreign-Language Film competition.
The four countries announced their choices this week. Hungary chose Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse, the Netherlands Maria Peters' Sonny Boy, Norway Anne Sewitsky's Happy, Happy and Serbia Dragan Bjelogrlic's Montevideo, God Bless You!
Happy, Happy will be released in New York and Los Angeles by Magnolia Pictures on September 16, while The Turin Horse is screening this month at both the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals.
Other recent countries to make submissions to the Oscar race include Austria (Breathing) and South Korea (The Front Line).
The newest entries:
Austria: Breathing (Atmen)
Director: Karl Markovics
The debut feature from Markovics was named the best European film in the Directors' Fortnight competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where the jury called it a dark but positive story that is full of life, sparked by excellent performances. The film deals with a young man, newly released from prison, who works in the morgue in Vienna and is searching for his mother.
Hungary: The Turin Horse
Director: Bela Tarr
Inspired by an incident from the life of Nietzsche (who does not appear in the film), The Turin Horse is a slow, measured examination of the daily life of the driver of a horse-drawn transom cab. Its purpose, said the director, is to show the heaviness of human existence through the meticulous depiction of life's rituals: The daily repetition of the same routine makes it possible to show that something is wrong with their world.
Shot in long, uninterrupted takes, the two-and-a-half-hour film might be the most critically-admired of the foreign-language submissions so far, but its bleakness and spare, measured pace make it the kind of austere acquired taste not often appreciated by Academy voters.
Netherlands: Sonny Boy
Director: Maria Peters
The film was written and directed by Peters, and adapted from a bestselling book by Annejet van der Zijl, which was based on a true story. Set in the 1920s, it deals with a mother of four who falls in love with a much younger man from Surinam. Ricky Koole, Sergio Hasselbank and Marcel Hensema star.
Norway: Happy, Happy
Director: Anne Sewitsky
Sewitsky's gentle comedy won the World Cinema Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The story of a young married schoolteacher whose relentless optimism is challenged
when a seemingly perfect family moves in next door, The film, wrote Jeremy Mathews, has a wonderful peculiarity to it. (Another Scandinavian comedy, Sweden's Simple Simon, made the Academy shortlist last year.)
Serbia: Montevideo, God Bless You!
Director: Dragan Bjelogrlic
A box-office hit in its homeland, Montevideo, God Bless You! deals with the Yugoslavian soccer team's participation in the 1930 World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay. It is loosely based on a novel, Montevideo, Bog te video, by sports journalist Vladimir Stankovic.
South Korea: The Front Line
Director: Jang Jun
Korean director Jang Hun's third film is set during a ceasefire in the Korean War in 1951, and deals with a South Korean lieutenant whose investigation into the killing of a commander uncovers odd circumstances along the war's eastern front.