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Although it is expensive and time-consuming to enter the Oscar race, the value of a foreign-language film nomination proves tangible to the director and, by extension, to the country’s entire cinematic output. Here are some case studies of procedure and strategy from countries that have been included in previous shortlists, and have a strong chance this year for the Oscar.
At one time, the group choosing the Belgian foreign-language candidate tried to alternate between productions from the country’s two official languages, Flemish and French, but a different system was put into place five years ago. “The principle is to take the best candidate and not to have a rotation between both communities each year,” says Eric Franssen, director of Wallonie Bruxelles Images (WBI). “The idea is to have a balance over a long period.”
Producers - Films - Bodies - Belgium - Flanders
Now, producers submit their films to one of the two promotional bodies in Belgium: Flanders Image or WBI. Each body forms a three-person jury, one for the Flemish and one for the French-language titles. The jury members are film professionals who cannot be involved in any of the submitted films. Both juries select two films, resulting in two Walloon and two Flemish possibles. The Belgian Consulate in L.A. shows the films to an advisory board consisting of American film professionals. Christian DeSchutter, manager of Flanders Image, notes that the American advice is “an important part of the process because we are sometimes unaware of certain sensibilities in the U.S.”
The notes from the advisory body in L.A. go to the two juries, who are now merged into one six-person national jury. After watching the four finalists, the jury members meet the candidates before voting on the official submission.
DeSchutter - Body - Advice - Consideration
DeSchutter says: “They do not always follow the advisory body’s advice, but they always take it in consideration. They are absolutely free...
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