Cuties, DNA, Gagarine, Two Of Us and Summer Of 85 have been shortlisted to be France’s candidate for the best international feature film category of the 2021 Oscars, in the country’s two-part selection process.
This year’s selection committee includes directors Mati Diop and Olivier Nakache; producers Marc du Pontavice and Anne-Dominique Toussaint; and international sales agents Carole Baraton, co-head of Charades, and Juliette Schrameck, who recently left as head of sales at mk2 Films to move into production.
They join perennial institutional committee members, Cannes delegate general Thierry Frémaux, Unifrance president Serge Toubiana and the newly installed César Academy president Veronique Cayla.
Under the process, overseen by National Cinema Centre (CNC) president Dominique Boutonnat, the committee met on Thursday (November 12) to draw up the shortlist.
They will reconvene on November 19 to audition the director, producer and sales agent for each of the candidate films, before taking their final decision on France’s 2021 Oscar candidate.
Maïmouna Doucouré’s debut feature was sold internationally by Bac Films which also released it theatrically in France over the summer. Netflix has world sales rights.
The coming of age tale was at the heart of an unexpected media storm this September after Netflix’s promotional artwork sparked accusations that it sexualised its young lead characters. The platform issued a statement saying it was deeply sorry and that the campaign did not properly represent the film.
DNA is the fifth feature of Maïwenn. The semi-biographical tale revolves around a young woman who starts looking into her roots when her beloved Algerian-born grandfather dies and unexpected facts about his past come to light.
It was produced by Why Not Productions. Wild Bunch International handles world sales. Netflix has English-language rights including for the US and the UK while the film has also sold into multiple other territories for theatrical release.
It was among 56 titles selected for Cannes special 2020 Official Selection and went on to world premiered in Deauville before heading to San Sebastian.
Gagarine is the debut feature of Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh. It revolves around a teenager with astronaut aspirations who embarks on a mission to save the tower block he calls home when it is earmarked for demolition.
It was produced by Haut et Court which is also handling the theatrical release in France. Totem Films handles world sales. Cohen Media Group (CMG) and Curzon snapped up US and UK rights during the Cannes virtual market in June.
The film also made it into Cannes’s 2020 Official Selection and has since played in a raft of festivals including Athens, Zurich and Ghent.
Ozon’s 20th feature, Summer of 85 is a 1980s coming-of-age tale unfolding in a Normandy beach resort. Playtime handles world sales and the film has been acquired by Music Box Film for the US. It was also in the Cannes 2020 Official Selection.
Italian director Filippo Meneghetti France-set Two Of Us stars Barbara Sukowa (Nina) and Martine Chevallier (Mado) as a lesbian couple facing up to the challenge of coming out after two decades of secret passion and companionship.
It was produced by France’s Paprika Films, Luxembourg’s Tarantula and Belgium’s Artémis Productions. The Party Film Sales handles international rights.
It premiered at Toronto in 2019 where Magnolia took US rights. The distributor had planned a US theatrical release for April 2020, with a US premiere at the Lincoln Center and MoMA’s New Directors/New Films (ND/NF) showcase in March but these plans were cancelled due to the pandemic. It is now aiming for a February 14, 2021 US launch.
Next year’s Academy Awards are due to take place in Los Angeles on the postponed date of April 25, 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under this year’s timings, features that were released theatrically or were scheduled to be released in cinemas between October 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020 in their country of production are eligible for consideration for best international film.
Films that were scheduled to be theatrically released in this period but then got pulled due to cinemas shutting down as part of lockdown measures also remain eligible.