Majid Majidi's Baran has been selected by Iran as its official candidate for the Academy Award for best foreign-language category. Vicente Aranda's historical drama Madness Of Love (Juana La Loca) is Spain's official nomination, while Mexico has chosen last spring's winner of five Ariel awards: Perfume De Violetas by Marisa Sistach as its foreign Oscar entry.
Baran's nomination by the nine-member Iranian selection committee was said to have been unanimous. That choice means its US distributor, Miramax, will be competing with itself to promote two serious foreign-language Oscar contenders, since it is also distributing France's candidate, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie.
In Spain, Madness Of Love beat out the two other contenders shortlisted for the Spanish nomination: Julio Medem's erotic epic Sex And Lucia (Lucia Y El Sexo) and Agustin Diaz-Yanes' No News From God (Sin Noticias De Dios).
No News was considered a favourite thanks to its pairing of Spanish A-list muses Penelope Cruz and Victoria Abril. However, Juana follows in the Spanish Academy's tradition of sending period films to the Oscars, including recent picks You're The One (2000), The Grandfather (El Abuelo, 1998) and Secrets Of The Heart (Secretos Del Corazon, 1997), not to mention 1993 Oscar winner, Fernando Trueba's Spanish Civil War-set Belle Epoque. Pedro Almodovar's ultra-modern All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre), which won the Oscar in 1999, was a notable exception.
Baran has been showered with honours, including the Grand Prize at the 2001 Montreal Film Festival. It was the third successive Majidi film to win top honours at Montreal; Those two,The Children Of Heaven and Color Of Paradise, went on to substantial arthouse success in the US. The former, to which Miramax Films had worldwide rights, grossed $0.93m in 1999 and was nominated for an the foreign-language Oscar. The latter, handled by Sony Pictures Classics, almost doubled that to take $1.8m in 2000.
Alliance Atlantis is selling Baran internationally, except Italy where Miramax also distributes. It will release the film in Canada through its ongoing distribution agreement with Miramax.
Alliance Atlantis announced today that deals have already been completed in 12 international territories: Japan - Nippon Herald Films, Benelux - Cinemien, Switzerland - Ascot-Elite, Israel - Shani Films, Poland - Vision Film Distribution, Mexico - Gussi Argentina - Alfa Films, Colombia - Cine-Clombia, Venezuela - Cine Unidos, Chile - PWI, Indonesia - PT Amero, Malaysia - Suraya.
Baran tells of a cocky Iranian teenager who is replaced by an illegally hired Afghan worker and consequently plays a series of nasty tricks on the immigrant.