Blind Loves, which screened in Cannes' Directors' Fortnight, follows four blind people as they experience love in their everyday lives. The film also screened at London BFI, Toronto, Karlovy Vary and Abu Dhabi. Autlook is handling international sales.
The Slovak academy chose Blind Loves over historical thriller Bathory, which has proven the country's most popular film ever, drawing 450,000 admissions in Slovakia and more than a million in the Czech Republic.
The academy's decision has angered Bathory director Juraj Jakubisko and his wife and producer, Deana Jakubiskova-Horvathova. While the academy has said that Bathory lacks sufficient Slovak participation, the producer claims the rejection was a personal slight and due to the fact that she and her husband have dual Slovak-Czech citizenship.
Bathory is a co-production between Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the UK. It stars UK actors Anna Friel and Hans Matheson, who delivered their lines in English. The film-makers released the film in English, Czech and Slovak dubbed versions.
According to Jakubiskova-Horvathova, the film is a majority Slovak production, as determined by the Slovak Ministry of Culture, and fulfils the main criteria for consideration in the category: that the film's director and screenwriter be Slovak.
Zuzana Mistrikova, vice president of the Slovak academy, countered that these are the only conditions which the film does fulfil. 'It doesn't have significant Slovak participation in the main acting roles or in six other categories: editing, sound, music, camera, costumes and art design,' she told news agency CTK.
Mistrikova says her academy's eight-member presidium consulted directly with the American academy before reaching their decision.
The director and producer are considering whether to try to secure screenings in Los Angeles so the film could qualify in other categories, including the Best Actress award for Friel.