Beyond the Hills

Welcome to The Season, the new section for year-end editorial coverage of everyone's favorite topics: awards, nominations and the best films of 2012! A whopping 50 of last year's Oscar nominations went to films that played in our festivals and theaters, and we're betting this year will be no different. So join us as we hash out all the nods, lauds, and snubs now through the end of The Season!

We're proud to announce that a whole slew of NYFF selections have joined an already-packed Oscars field [see last week's post], all jostling for the coveted Best Foreign Film nomination. First up, representing Romania, is Beyond the Hills: Christian Mungiu's long-awaited follow-up to his devastating 2007 triumph 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. The film, a complex take on religious orthodoxy and its many different faces—cultivator of faith, instrument of repression, moral instructor and political force—took away the best screenplay award at Cannes, with its two leads sharing the trophy for best actress. It's a likley candidate for the ten-film shortlist, and maybe even for the final list of five nominees.

South Korea's submission is Kim Ki-Duk's bloody, lyrical Venice victor Pietà. The story of a highly unsual mother-son relationship, suffused with violence of just about every kind and possibly allowing, nevertheless, for some measure of grace, Pietà looks to be Kim's most high-profile and acclaimed film since his revelatory, endlessly mysterious 2004 feature 3-Iron. It's also expected to be his first film in years to have proper U.S. distribution.

Fill the Void

Also announced: Belgium's official submission—and NYFF Main Slate selection—Our Children, a harrowing true-life domestic tragedy from Joachim LaFosse. Chile and Italy have released their own shortlists, including highly anticipated NYFF selections No and Caesar Must Die, respectively. Finally, Israel has announced the nominees of its annual Ophir Awards, the winner of which will go straight to Oscar consideration—among them Rama Burshtein's debut feature Fill the Void.

The Best Foreign Language Film category has come under fire from some circles in recent years—it's been deemed a sort of token nod towards international cinema, one whose narrow list of finalists can't hope to allow for the diversity and breadth of films produced each year around the world. That might be, at least partly, right—but if the title doesn't give the last word on the year's output, I'm not sure it's supposed to. What it does, and does very well, is to provide films from wildly different cultures and filmmakers, more often than not produced by chanels that would be, well, foreign, to most of the higher-budget Oscar nominees, with an audience of which they could previously only dream—to place directors like Asghar Farhadi, none of whose pre-A Separation films have seen a U.S. release to this day, in the spotlight of an entire nation.

Here's a list of the films that have already been submitted for consideration:
Michael Haneke's Amour (Austria)
Cate Shortland's Lore (Australia)
Ilgar Najaf's Buta (Azerbaijan)
Joachim Lafosse's Our Children (Belgium)
Aida Begić's Children of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Chhay Bora's Lost Loves (Cambodia)
Branko Schmidt's Cannibal Vegetarian (Croatia)
Christian Petzold's Barbara (Germany)
Filippos Tsitos' Unfair World (Greece)
Benedek Fliegauf's Just the Wind (Hungary)
Yong-hi Yang's Our Homeland (Japan)
Darko Mitrevski's The Third Half (Macedonia)
Faouzi Bensaïdi's Death for Sale (Morocco)
Boudewijn Koole's Kauwboy (Netherlands)
Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki (Norway)
Annemarie Jacir's When I Saw You (Palestine)
Waldemar Krzystek's 80 Million (Poland)
João Canijo's Blood of My Blood (Portugal)
Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills (Romania)
Goran Paskaljević's When Day Breaks (Serbia)
Nejc Gazvoda's A Trip (Slovenia)
Kim Ki-duk's Pietà (South Korea)
Lasse Hallström's The Hypnotist (Sweden)
Mykhailo Illienko's Firecrosser (Ukraine)
Hernán Jabes' Rock, Paper, Scissors (Venezuela)