The Breaking Ice

Source: Rediance

‘The Breaking Ice’

Entries for the 2024 Oscar for best international feature are underway, and Screen is profiling each one on this page.

The 96th Academy Awards is set to take place on March 10, 2024 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (over 40 minutes) produced outside the US with a predominantly (more than 50%) non-English dialogue track and can include animated and documentary features.

Submitted films must have been released theatrically in their respective countries between December 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023. The deadline for submissions to the Academy is October 2.

A shortlist of 15 finalists is scheduled to be announced on December 21, with the final five nominees announced on January 23.

The 2023 awards saw 92 submissions with the five nominated films ending up as Argentina’s Argentina, 1985; Belgium’s Close; Poland’s EO; Ireland’s The Quiet Girl and the eventual winner All Quiet On The Western Front from Germany.

Latest submissions

Singapore: The Breaking Ice (Anthony Chen)

The blossoming relationship between a trio of twentysomethings is explored in the latest feature from acclaimed filmmaker Chen. It marks the Singaporean director’s first feature filmed in China and premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where Chen won the Camera d’Or in 2013 with Ilo Ilo. It is Chen’s third film to be submitted for the Oscar, after Ilo Ilo and 2020’s Wet Season. Singapore’s entry last year, Ajoomma, was produced by Chen’s Singapore-based Giraffe Pictures. The country in southeast Asia has yet to make the shortlist or secure a nomination in the category. International sales: Rediance

Jordan: Inshallah A Boy (Amjad Al-Rasheed)

Cannes Critics week title Inshallah A Boy was the first Jordanian film to compete at the festival. It also headed to Toronto, and will play at BFI London Film Festival. A young widow is in danger of losing hers and her daughter’s home, but decides to fight back. Director Al-Rasheed was one of Screen’s Arab Stars of Tomorrow (2016). Cast includes Muna Hawa, Haitham Al-Omari, Salwa Nakkara, Yumna Marwan, Mohammad AI-Jizawi and Eslam Al-Awadi. Rula Nasser produces through Imaginarium Films and co-writes. Nasser’s credits include line producing Holy Spider. Funding support came from the Jordan Film Fund/RFC, along with the Doha Film Institute and Red Sea Fund. An independent selection committee of six Jordanian industry professionals selected the film for entry. International sales: Pyramide International

India: 2018 (Jude Anthany Joseph)

This Malayalam-language survival drama is based around the floods that struck Kerala in 2018 and stars Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban and Asif Ali. Last year was particularly successful for Indian cinema at the Oscars, with Telugu-language phenomenon RRR winning best original song and The Elephant Whisperers taking best documentary short. However, it was Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show that was submitted for the international category, which made the shortlist but did not secure a nomination. India has previously landed three nominations in the category with Mehboob Khan’s Mother India in 1957 (its first submission), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! in 1988, and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan in 2001.International sales: TBC

Sudan: Goodbye Julia (Mohamed Kordofani)

The first Sudanese film to be chosen for Cannes’ official selection, Kordofani’s debut is set in Khartoum ahead of Sudan’s division into two countries in 2011 and follows two women from the north and south of the country. Producers are Amjad Abu Alala, director of Sudan’s first ever Oscar submission You Will Die At 20 in 2021. International sales: MAD Solutions

Poland: The Peasants   (DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  New Europe Film Sales

Palestine: Bye Bye Tiberias  (Lina Soualem)

Succession  star Hiam Abbass returns home in her daughter’s documentary about four generations of Palestinian women. The film world premiered at Venice’s Giornate degli Autori before heading to Toronto with further screenings at Chicago, DOK Leipzig and London festivals incoming. It also scooped up funding prizes at Cairo, El Gouna, Doha and participated in Marrakesh’s Atlas Workshop. France’s Beall Productions produced the title with co-production from Belgium’s Altitude 100 Production and Versus Productions in addition to Palestine’s Philistine Films. The country has been nominated twice before, in 2005 for Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now  and in 2013 with Hany Abu-Assad’s OmarInternational sales:  Lightdox

Hong Kong: A Light That Never Goes Out  (Anastasia Tsang)

Tsang’s debut feature follows a recent widow who decides to finish her late husband’s dream of making neon street signs. Tokyo festival held the film’s world premiere while the personal drama has also screened at Udine and Rotterdam and received nominations at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Golden Horse Awards - picking up best actress for Sylvia Chang at the latter. Simon Yam and Cecilia Choi also star in the feature that Tsang co-wrote with Tsoi So-man. It is produced by Saville Chan. Hong Kong has been nominated three times, most recently in 2020 with Derek Tsang’s Better Days, and made the shortlist once. International sales: Entertaining Power

Bangladesh: No Ground Beneath The Feet (Mohammad Rabby Mridha)

This debut feature is set against the devasting effects of climate change in Bangladesh with the story of a struggling ambulance driver and his problematic marriage. After premiering at Busan in 2021, the film went on to screen at India and Asia-focused festivals in London, Vienna and Barcelona. Golpo Rajjo Films produced the title while the cast is made up of Mostafa Monwar, Priyam Archi and Deepanwita Martin. The country has submitted 18 times previously and is yet to receive a nomination. International sales:  TBC

Panama: Tito, Margot & Me (Mercedes Arias and Delfina Vidal)

Exploring the relationship between Panamanian diplomat Roberto ‘Tito’ Arias and English ballerina Margot Fonteyn, this documentary closed Panama’s International Film Festival and competed in the country’s documentary competition. Arias, who is the niece of ‘Tito’, and Vidal were previously Panama’s entry for international feature in 2015 with Box 25 and co-wrote Tito, Margot & Me with Joaneska Grössl. Betesda Films and Colombia’s Jaguar Films produced the film. The country is yet to be nominated but did make the shortlist in 2021 with Abner Benaim’s Plaza Cathedral. International sales: JMT Films


Brazil: Picture Of Ghosts   (Kleber Mendonça Filho)

This is the acclaimed filmmaker’s second submission to the Oscars after 2013’s Neighbouring Sounds  and this time Filho explores the forgotten cinemas of his childhood city Recife. The documentary world premiered at Cannes Special Screenings with further festival outings at New York, Toronto, Busan and Lima - picking up a jury award at the latter. Brazil has submitted to the Academy over 50 times and has scooped four nominations along the way - 1962’s Keeper Of Promises; 1995’s O Quatrilho;  1997’s Four Days In September; and 1998’s Central Station. International sales:  Urban Sales 

Bolivia: The Visitor  (Martin Boulocq)

The fourth feature of writer-director Martin Boulocq centres on an ex-convict who returns home and attempts to reconnect with his young daughter but is met with resistance from the girl’s grandparents, who are evangelical pastors. The film premiered at Tribeca in 2022, where it won best screenplay in the international competition. It marks the 16th  submission by Bolivia since it began entering titles to the Oscars in 1995, but the South American country has yet to receive a nomination. International sales: FiGa Films

Canada: Rojek  (Zaynê Akyol)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  Andana Films

Chile: The Settlers  (Felipe Gálvez)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  mk2

Colombia: A Male   (Fabián Hernández)

A teenage boy returns from boarding to face the violent and masculine nature of his Colombian neighbourhood in Hernandez’s debut feature. The drama had its world premiere in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight 2022, where it was nominated for the Camera d’Or, before going on to screen at San Sebastian and Lima film festivals. A Male   is produced by Colombia’s Medio de Contención Producciones, France’s In Vivo Films, the Netherlands’s Fortuna Films, and Denmark’s Black Forest Films. Colombia has submitted over 30 times, picking up a nomination in 2015 for Ciro Guerra’s Embrace Of The SerpentInternational sales:  Cercamon

Peru: The Erection of Toribio Bardelli   (Adrián Saba)

A dysfunctional family struggle to cope after the death of their mother in Peru’s 30th submission to the Oscars. It is also Saba’s second time representing the country after his 2013 debut The Cleaner   which also picked up a special mention in San Sebastian’s New Directors’ strand. The film stars Gustavo Bueno, Gisela Ponce de León, and Rodrigo Sánchez Patiño, and is produced by Animalita. It had its world premiere at Lima Film Festival. Peru has only been nominated once, in 2009 for Claudia Llosa’s The Milk Of Sorrow. International sales:  TBC

Uruguay: Family Album  (Guillermo Rocamora)

A recently divorced father decides to form a rock band with his two teenage sons in Rocamora’s third feature film. The director’s 2008 short film Good Trip  competed at Cannes while his feature debut Solo  picked up the Ibero-American Opera Prima award at Miami International Film Festival. Family Album  is produced by Cimarrón Cine with a cast comprised of Diego Cremonesi, Franco Rizzaro, Valeria Lois, Alfonso Tort, Vicente Pieri and Roberto Suárez. It will be released in Uruguay on August 24. This is the country’s 22nd  submission to the Oscars with only one nomination for Adolfo Aristarain’s A Place In The World  in 1992, which was subsequently rescinded after an investigation uncovered that the production was almost entirely Argentinian. International sales: TBC


Bhutan: The Monk And The Gun  (Pawo Choyning Dorji)

This drama is set in 2006, when the Kingdom of Bhutan began its transition to democracy and staged a mock election to teach a somewhat reluctant population how to vote. This forms the backdrop of story in which an American attempts to acquire a rare Civil War-era rifle in the country from a monk who wants something significant in return. It premiered at Telluride and went on to screen at Toronto. It marks the second film by writer and director Dorji to have represented the Himalayan territory after his debut, Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom, was submitted for the 2022 awards, and went on to be nominated. Prior to this, Bhutan had only entered the category in 1999 with Khyentse Norbu’s The CupSales: Film Boutique (international) / UTA (North America) 

Indonesia: Autobiography  (Makbul Mubarak)

The debut feature of film critic-turned-director Makbul Mubarak is about a young man who keeps house for a retired general, finding himself torn between loyalty and justice as the mayoral election approaches. It premiered in Venice’s Horizons strand in 2022, where it scooped a Fipresci prize, and went on to win several prizes at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Golden Horse Film Festival, Marrakech, Tokyo Filmex, Stockholm and Singapore film festivals among others. It marks Indonesia’s 25th  entry to the category since 1987 but has yet to make the shortlist or receive a nomination with these submissions. International sales: Alpha Violet

Japan: Perfect Days (Wim Wenders)

Read the full article hereInternational sales: The Match Factory

Kyrgyzstan: This Is What I Remember  (Aktan Arym Kubat)

The story follows a man, played by director Aktan Arym Kubat, who has lost his memory and returns to Kyrgyzstan for the first time in more than 20 years. Set in a local village, he discovers much has changed during his absence, from the morals of the villagers and the radicalisation of Islam to growing crime and corruption. The film premiered in competition at Tokyo in 2022 and received the jury grand prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards that same year. Kubat, who is also known as Aktan Abdykalykov, is known for features such as The Adopted Son, which won the Locarno Silver Leopard in 1998, and The Light Thief, which screened in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2010. His previous film, Centaur, played in the Berlinale’s Panorama section in 2017 and won the CICAE Award. This marks his fifth film to be submitted to the Oscars after The Adopted Son, The Chimp, The Light Thief  and Centaur.  Kyrgyzstan has yet to make the shortlist in the category. International sales: Diversion

Nepal: Halkara (Bikram Sapkota)

In Sapkota’s debut feature, an unemployed drunk must face his demons when he accepts a postman position and begins trekking into remote Nepalese villages each day. The film has picked up several awards on the festival circuit including best long narrative at the Nepal-America Film Festival as well as best film and best actor at the World Fest Houston Film Festival. Mahesh Tripathi and Binita Thapa Magar star in Halkara  while Sakopta wrote the script with Aakash Baral and Viplob Pratik. It is a co-production between Icefall and Kaalipar Studios. International sales:  Icefall Productions

South Korea: Concrete Utopia  (Tae-hwa Eom)

The survivors of a devasting earthquake in Seoul try to piece themselves back together again in Tae-hwa’s second feature. The film will screen at Toronto next month before going on to Sitges and Hawaii festivals. Squid Game’s Lee Byung-hun leads the cast with Park Seo-joon and Park Bo-young. South Korea won the Oscar in 2020 with Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, which also picked up best picture, and has also made the shortlist twice – in 2018 for Lee Chang-dong’s Burning  and last year with Park Chan-wook’s Decision To LeaveInternational sales:  Lotte Entertainment

Taiwan: Marry My Dead Body (Cheng Wei-hao)

This supernatural comedy stars Greg Han and Austin Lin as a homophobic policeman and a ghost respectively who are accidentally bound together as a married couple. The film premiered as the closing film of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in November 2022 and went on to become the seventh highest grossing local film of all time in Taiwan, taking $11.3 million (NT$360m). It also landed in Netflix’s global top 10 (non-English) rankings in its first week and won best screenplay at the Taipei Film Awards. Taiwan last made the shortlist in 2020 with Chung Mong-Hong’s family drama A Sun. Prior to that, the previous shortlisted entry was Wei Te-sheng’s Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale in 2012. The last to achieve a nomination was Ang Lee’s martial-arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which went on to win the award and three further Oscars in 2001. International sales: Calendar Studios Co

Tajikistan: Melody  (Behrouz Sebt Rasoul)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  Dreamlab Films


Armenia: Amerikatsi  (Michael A. Goorjian)

This drama follows an Armenian-American who, after getting arrested upon his return to Armenia, becomes fascinated with a couple he can see from his prison cell. The film premiered at Woodstock Film Festival where it picked up best narrative feature and later won the audience award at Hamburg. Goorjian wrote, directed and stars in Amerikatsi  which is produced by People Of Ar Productions. This is the country’s 13th  entry to the Oscars, though it has been disqualified twice, in 1991 and 2016, for not meeting the submission criteria. International sales:  Amadeus Entertainment 

Belgium: Omen   (Baloji)

The debut feature from the Belgium-Congolese rapper centres on a young Congolese man who travels back to his hometown with his European fiancée to reunite with his family and culture. It had its world premiere at Cannes Un Certain Regard where it won the new voice award, followed by the CineRebels prize at Munich and a screening at London. The director co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas van Zuylen and it is produced by Benoit Roland for Wrong Men. The cast includes Marc Zinga, Lucie Debay and Eliane Umuhire. Belgium was nominated last year for Lukas Dhont’s Close  and has received a further seven nominations as well as two shortlistings from nearly 50 submissions. International sales:  Memento International 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Excursion   (Una Gunjak)

The debut feature of writer-director Una Gunjak is set in Sarajevo, where a 15-year-old girl seeking validation claims she had sex for the first time during a game of “truth or dare” among middle schoolers. Trapped in her own lie, she invents a pregnancy and becomes the centre of a controversy that spirals out of control. It premiered at Locarno and went on to screen at Sarajevo. Gunjak’s short film The Chicken  won best short film at the European Film Awards in 2014 and her short Salamat From Germany  premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2017. B&H won the category in 2001 with Danis Tanović’s No Man’s Land  and picked up a nomination in 2020 for Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida?International sales: Salaud Morisset.

Bulgaria: Blaga’s Lessons  (Stephan Komandarev)

This dark drama follows a teacher who loses her life savings in a phone scam and so turns the tables to earn money by becoming a scammer herself. It premiered at Karlovy Vary, where it won three prizes including the Crystal Globe Grand Prix and best actress prize for Eli Skorcheva, who plays the teacher. It marks the eighth feature of Stephan Komandarev, whose taxi drivers drama Directions  played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2017. The filmmaker helped Bulgaria reach the Oscars shortlist for the first and only time in 2009 with The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner  and his migrant drama The Judgement  was submitted in 2015. International sales: Heretic

Croatia: Traces  (Dubravka Turic)

After the death of her father, young scientist Ana struggles with an identity crisis, being the last member of a once large family. It marks the feature directorial debut of Dubravka Turic, whose short Cherries  played Cannes in 2017 and whose Belladonna  won the main award in Venice’s Horizons Shorts section in 2015. Traces  premiered at Warsaw and secured three technical prizes at Pula Film Festival. The country has submitted to the Oscars more than 30 times but has yet to secure a nomination. International sales:  TBC

Czech Republic: Brothers  (Tomas Masin)

Based on a true story, this drama follows two brothers who, in 1953, tried to escape communist Czechoslovakia to join the US army in West Berlin, resulting in one of the largest manhunts in modern history. The Czech Republic won the Academy Award in 1997 with Jan Svěrák’s Kolya  and subsequently secured nominations in 2001 with Jan Hřebejk’s Divided We Fall  and in 2004 with Ondřej Trojan’s Zelary. Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird  and Agnieszka Holland’s Charlatan  made the shortlist in 2020 and 2021 respectively. International sales: The Yellow Affair 

Estonia: Smoke Sauna Sisterhood  (Anna Hints)

This documentary, which explores a community of women who bond in their local sauna, premiered at Sundance where Hints picked up the best directing award in world cinema – documentary. The director’s debut feature has also screened at CPH:DOX, Hong Kong, and Munich while it had its UK premiere at Sheffield Doc:Fest. This marks Estonia’s 20th  submission to the Oscars, having been nominated once in 2014 for Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines  as well as making the shortlist in 2019 with Tanel Toom’s Truth And JusticeInternational sales:  Autlook Films

Finland: Fallen Leaves   (Aki Kaurismäki)

Read the full story hereInternational sales:  The Match Factory 

France: The Taste Of Things  (Tran Anh Hung)

Read the full article here. International sales:  Gaumont

Germany: The Teachers’ Lounge   (lker Çatak)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  Be For Films

Greece: Behind The Haystacks  (Asimina Proedrou)

Proedrou’s debut feature explores the refugee crisis on the Greek/North Macedonian border through the lens of one family who are struck by a tragic accident. The drama first premiered at Thessaloniki where it picked up several prizes including best debut director and the Fipresci award. Its winning streak continued with a best debut award at India, a European Film Academy nomination and a domination of Greece’s Iris Awards with 10 prizes including  best film, director, debut director, screenplay, actor, cinematography and editing. Its 17 nominations were the highest in the history of the awards. Behind The Haystacks  is produced by Argonauts Productions, Fiction Park and Sektor Film, and stars Stathis Stamoulakatos, Lena Ouzounidou and Evgenia Lavda. Greece is yet to win an Oscar but has secured five nominations from over 40 entries, most recently in 2011 with Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth.  International sales:  TVCO

Hungary: Four Souls Of Coyote  (Áron Gauder)

Animated feature Four Souls Of Coyote  won the jury award win at Annecy Film Festival. The feature, the second from The District  filmmaker Gaude, went on to win further prizes including Shanghai’s best animated film. It blends 2D and 3D animation, and follows a group of Native American teenagers that confront an oil pipeline project. Cinemon Entertainment produces, with a voice cast including Lorne Cardinal, Diontae Black, Danny Kramer and Stephanie Novak. International sales:  Gebeka International 

Iceland: Godland   (Hlynur Palmason)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  New Europe Film Sales 

Italy: Io  Capitano  (Matteo Garrone)

Read the full article here. International sales:  Pathé

Latvia: My Freedom  (Ilze Kunga-Melgaile)

Based on the real-life story of the Latvian-Polish politician Ita Kozakeviča who played an important role in helping Latvia gain independence from the Baltic states. This marks the country’s 15th submission and has yet to gain a nomination. International sales:  TBC

Lithuania: Slow   (Marija Kavtaradze)

The film follows sign-language interpreter Dovyda who meets dancer Elena with the pair immediately finding a spark between them. As they begin a relationship, Dovyda reveals he is asexual and both must navigate what this means for their future. It premiered at Sundance, winning Kavtaradze the best directing award in the World Cinema Dramatic competition. It marks the filmmaker’s second feature after 2018’s Summer Survivors, which premiered at Toronto. Lithuania made its first Oscar entry for the 2007 awards. Slow  is the country’s 16th  entry since then, with no nominations to date. International sales: Totem

Luxembourg: The Last Ashes  (Loïc Tanson)

This modern western sees a woman return home under a new identity to seek revenge on the tyrannical family ruling over her native village. Tanson’s debut solo feature, he previously co-directed the documentary Eldorado  with Rui Eduardo Abreu and Thierry Besseling which won best documentary at CinEuphoria. The Last Ashes  was co-written by Tanson and Frédéric Zeimet and is produced by Samsa Film with Belgium’s Artémis Productions. Luxembourg is yet to secure a nomination from its 18 previous submissions. International sales:  Samsa Film

Montenegro: Sirin  (Senad Šahmanović)

Šahmanović’s feature debut stars Murina  actor Danica Ćurčić as a lawyer who returns to Montenegro, after emigrating 20 years prior, to work on a case involving an inheritance and her hometown’s Orthodox church. The film won the Pack & Pitch at Sarajevo CineLink and best pitch at Kosovo’s Pristina Film Festival. Jasna Đuričić also stars in the film alongside May-Linda Kasumović, Marko Baćović and Nikša Butijer while Šahmanović co-wrote the screenplay with Claudia Bottino. It is produced by Montenegro’s Cut-Up in co-production with Croatia’s Sekvenca, Albania’s On Film Production, Kosovo’s Buka, France’s Alliance de Production Cinématographique and Bosnia’s Dokumen. This is the 10th time Montenegro has submitted to the Oscars, with no nominations secured so far. International sales:  TBC

Netherlands: Sweet Dreams  (Ena Sendijarević)

Sweet Dreams  world premiered in international competition at the Locarno Film Festival’s in August winning Dutch actress Renée Soutendijk a best performance Leopard award. The film has its North American premiere in Toronto as part of TIFF’s Centrepiece strand. It is set on a Dutch sugar plantation in Indonesia in 1900. When the owner suddenly dies, his wife forces her son progressive and his pregnant wife to travel from Europe and take over the family business. The last Dutch film to earn a nomination in the category was Ben Sombogaart’s Twin Sisters  in 2003, whilst Mike van Diem’s Character  won the prize in 1997. International sales:  Heretic

Norway: Songs Of Earth  (Margreth Olin)

Having previously submitted for Norway in 2010 with her drama Angel, Olin is now representing the country with a documentary. The CPH:DOX premiere explores humanity’s relationship with nature through Olin’s elderly father who travels across the scenic valley Oldedalen in Nordfjord where he grew up. Further screenings of the film have taken place at Toronto, Krakow, Trento, DokuFest and New Horizons. Songs Of Earth  is produced by Speranza Film AS in co-production with BBC Storyville while Wim Wenders and Liv Ullmann are among the executive producers. Norway has picked up six nominations, most recently in 2021 for Joachim Trier’s festival hit The Worst Person In The World. International sales:  Cinephil

Portugal: Bad Living  (João Canijo)

One-half of Canijo’s diptych project, this drama follows five women who fight to keep the crumbling seaside hotel they inherited afloat. It had its world premiere at Berlinale in competition, while its sister film Living Bad  screened in Encounters, where it won the Silver Bear jury prize and went on to win the top prize at Portugal’s IndieLisboa. Produced by Midas Filmes, the cast comprises Anabela Moreira, Rita Blanco, Madalena Almeida, Cleila Almeida, Vera Barreto. This marks Canijo’s third submission to the Oscars, after 2005’s Noite Escura  and 2012’s Blood Of My Blood, but the country has yet to secure a nomination. International sales:  Portugal Film 

Romania: Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World  (Radu Jude)

This comedy follows an overworked and underpaid production assistant, who has to shoot a workplace safety video commissioned by a multinational company. But an interviewee makes a statement that forces him to re-invent his story to suit the company’s narrative. The film premiered at Locarno, where it won a special jury prize, and went on to screen at Toronto. It marks Radu Jude’s fourth film to be submitted for the Oscar after Aferim!I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians  and Bad Lack Banging Or Loony Porn, of which the latter won Berlin’s Golden Bear in 2021. Romania’s only nomination came in 2020 with Alexander Nanau’s Collective, though the country did make the shortlist in 2012 with Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond The HillsInternational sales: Heretic

Slovakia: Photophobia  (Ivan Ostrochovský, Pavol Pekarčík)

Winner of the best European film at Venice’s Giornate degli Autori, this hybrid drama-documentary centres around a Ukrainian family hiding from the war in a metro station where one of the young sons meets another girl trapped there and they form a bond. Pekarčík and Ostrochovský previously directed Berlinale award-winner Velvet Terrorists  with Peter Kerekes in 2013. The film is a Punchart Films and Cinémotif Films production, co-produced with Radio and Television of Slovakia, Arthouse Traffic, Czech Television, Partizanfilm with the support of the Slovak Audivisual Fund, Czech Film Fund and the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. Filmtopia is handling the release in Slovakia. This marks the country’s 25th  submission, one of which was Ostrochovský’s Goat  in 2015, while no nominations have been secured. International sales:  TBC

Slovenia: Riders   (Dominik Mencej)

Set in 1999, this drama follows two young friends from a small Slovenian village who decide to hit the road and ride their mopeds through Croatia and Slovenia – both driven by a desire to find freedom and break with stifling convention. It marks the feature debut of Dominik Mencej and premiered in competition at Sarajevo 2022. Slovenia has submitted films for the category since 1993 but has yet to make the shortlist. International sales: Slingshot Films

Spain: Society Of The Snow  (J.A. Bayona)

Read the full article hereWorldwide rights:  Netflix

Sweden: Opponent  (Milad Alami)

In Alami’s second feature, an Iranian family seeking refuge in Sweden are shaken up when the father joins a wrestling team and rumours begin to circulate. The film premiered at Berlinale Panorama and went on to screen at Canada’s Inside Out, Karlovy Vary and Seattle where co-star Marall Nasiri picked up the jury prize for her performance. The rest of the cast is led by Payman Maadi and includes Nicole Mehrbod and Diana Farzami. The producers are Tangy / Annika Rogell, in co-production with Filmpool Nord, Film i Väst, Sveriges Television and Norway’s Ape & Bjørn. Sweden has won the Oscar three times and has been nominated a further 13. The country was shortlisted last year for Tarik Saleh’s Boy From Heaven. International sales:  IndieSales

Switzerland: Thunder  (Carmen Jaquier)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  WTFilms

UK: The Zone Of Interest   (Jonathan Glazer)

Read the full article hereInternational sales:  A24

Ukraine: 20 Days In Mariupol  (Mstyslav Chernov)

Following a group of Ukrainian journalists trapped inside the besieged city of Mariupol during the first 20 days of the Russian invasion, this documentary had its world premiere at Sundance where it won the audience award in world cinema - documentary. Chernov’s debut feature went on to screen at CPH: DOX, Cleveland, Docudays, Seattle, DocAviv and Sheffield Doc:Fest where it picked up the Tim Hetherington award. 20 Days In Mariupol  is a co-production between The Associated Press and Frontline. Ukraine has submitted to the Oscars 15 times previously and is yet to reserve a nomination. International sales:  Dogwoof

Middle East and Africa

Egypt: Voy ! Voy ! Voy !  (Omar Hilal)

Inspired by a real story, this comedy-drama follows a down-on-his-luck security guard who decides to pose as a blind man so he can join the blind soccer team and compete in the World Cup tournament in Europe. Hilal’s debut feature is a co-production between Vox Cinemas, Film Clinic, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The cast is comprised of Mohamed Farrag, Nelly Karim, Bayoumi Fouad, Taha Desouky, Amgad Al Haggar, Passant Shawky, Hagag Abdel Azim, Hanan Youssef, and Lobna Wanas. Egypt has not received a nomination from any of its 36 previous entries. International sales:  TBC

Iran: The Night Guardian  (Reza Mirkarimi)

A young village boy’s life is turned upside down when he puts his trust in a mysterious engineer in Mirkarimi’s third submission to the Oscars for Iran. The drama premiered at Iran’s Fajr Film Festival where it picked up the best director award and an honorary diploma for best supporting actor (Aliakbar Osanloo) as well as eight further nominations. The Night Guardian  was co-written by Mirkarimi with Mohammad Davoud and is distributed by Banoo Film. The country has scooped two Oscars, for A Separation  in 2011 and The Salesman  in 2016 – both from Asghar Farhadi, as well as a further nomination and two shortlistings. International sales:  TBC

Iraq: Hanging Gardens  (Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji)

The director’s debut feature centres around a young boy who discovers a discarded sex doll in the rubbish dump where he lives. After premiering in Venice Horizons, the first Iraqi title to grace the festival, the film went on to win best film at Red Sea and at the Critics Awards for Arab Films. Hanging Gardens  is an Iraq-Palestine-Egypt-UK-Saudi Arabia co-production from Ishtar Iraq Film Production, Margaret Glover (who co-wrote the film with Al Daradji) and Odeh Films. Iraq is yet to secure a nomination from its 11 previous entries. International sales:  True Colours

Israel: Seven Blessings  (Ayelet Menahemi)

This comedy drama is set in Jerusalem in the early 1990s and centres on a Jewish Moroccan wedding, as the family prepares the custom of ‘Seven Blessings’ – a week of festive meals in honour of the bride, where secrets and lies will be revealed. The film won nine prizes at Israel’s Ophir Awards, including best film, which includes a submission to the Oscars. It marks the first feature of veteran director Menahemi since 2007 comedy drama Noodle. Israel has previously received 10 nominations in the Oscars category but has yet to secure a win to date. International sales:  TBC

Morocco: The Mother Of All Lies  (Asmae El Moudir)

This documentary reflects on the bread riots that shook the working-class Casablanca neighbourhood of director Asmae El Moudir in 1981, through the use of a workshop in which participants recall their experiences. It premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where it won the directing prize and L’Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) documentary prize. It went on to win best film at Sydney and best documentary at Durban film festivals. It marks the second feature by El Moudir after 2020’s The Postcard. Morocco has yet to secure a nomination but made the shortlist in 2011 with Roschdy Zem’s Omar Killed Me  and last year with Maryam Touzani’s The Blue CaftanInternational sales: Autlook Filmsales

Turkey: About Dry Grasses  (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

Read the full article hereInternational sales: Playtime

Tunisia: Four Daughters  (Kaouther Ben Hania)

Documentary and drama blend Four Daughters  debuted at this year’s Cannes in competition, where it won the Golden Eye best documentary prize alongside The Mother Of All Lies, before touring festivals including Sarajevo, Brussels and Munich, and will play at Toronto. The feature reconstructs the story of Tunisia’s Olfa Hamrouni and her daughters through interviews and re-enactments, to examine how the two eldest children were radicalised and disappeared. Professional actresses play the roles of two of the daughters and Egyptian-Tunisian star Hend Sabri stars as Olfa. It marks a return to the international Oscars feature race for Ben Hania, whose title The Man Who Sold His Skin  was Tunisia’s first-ever Oscar nomination in 2021. Kino Lober has US distribution rights. International sales:  The Party Film Sales

Yemen: The Burdened  (Amr Gamal)

A couple discovers they are pregnant with their fourth child when they can barely afford the three children they already have in Gamal’s second submission to the Oscars, following 2018’s 10 Days Before The Wedding. The film premiered at Berlinale Panorama where it was awarded both the audience and amnesty award. Further festival outings have included Shanghai, Beijing, Sydney, Taipei and Durban. Based on a true story, Gamal also co-wrote the feature with Mazen Reaat and produces via his company Adenium Productions. This is only Yemen’s third Oscar submission. International sales:  Films Boutique


Australia: Shayda  (Noora Niasari)

Executive produced by Cate Blanchett, Niasari’s debut feature follows an Iranian woman and her young daughter seeking refuge in an Australian women’s shelter. Premiering at Sundance, the drama picked up the audience award in World Cinema - Dramatic and went on to screen at Locarno and Melbourne with a further outing at Toronto incoming. Holy Spider   star Zar Amir Ebrahimi leads the cast with Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Rina Mousavi and Selina Zahednia. It’s produced by Origma 45 with Dirty Films as an executive producer. This marks Australia’s 16th submission to the Oscars with only one nomination, for Martin Butler and Bentley Dean’s Tanna   in 2016, under its belt while the country also made the shortlist in 2009 for Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah.   International sales:  HanWay Fil