The Spanish Film Academy has made the surprising decision of putting forward Agusti Villaronga’s post Spanish Civil War drama Black Bread (Pa Negre) as Spain’s entrant for the foreign-language Oscar, snubbing Pedro Almodovar’s critically acclaimed film The Skin I Live In.
“To win the Oscar would be fabulous because Agusti deserves it,” says Isona Passola, the producer of Black Bread, which is about a young boy living in a small Catalan village who uncovers dark secrets from the past. “After seven years of not filming it, he finally managed to rescue the project from the depths. He’s also managed to capture a new audience outside of his regular faithful viewers of his previous films.”
Black Bread is unlikely to be perceived as an undeserving entrant, and its nomination isn’t a total surprise as the film swept the board at the Goyas, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars, earlier this year.
But it was widely believed that Almodovar’s latest film, starring his old muse Antonio Banderas as a risk taking plastic surgeon, would be put forward after it was well received by the critics and is performing well at the box office. Plus his previous two films Volver and Broken Embraces had also been snubbed as foreign-language Oscar candidates, much to the surprise of many in the industry.
In a further interesting twist, Almodovar only returned as a member of the Spanish film academy earlier this year after a seven-year absence due to his protest over the voting system.
The other film to miss out on selection was Benito Zambrano’s drama Sleeping Voice (La Voz Dormida), also a post Spanish Civil War drama set in a prison where women are condemned to death for being anti-Franco, which world premiered at the San Sebastian film festival earlier this month.
Black Bread has also been put forward as Spain’s entrant for the Ariel awards in Mexico.