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17 Sep 12

Balkan Countries in Bid for Oscar

Among this year's candidates for the Best Foreign Language Film Award is a rich selection of movies from the Balkans dealing with topics from corruption to religion and football.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade

Most Balkan countries have finished choosing their movies for the Best Foreign Language Film competition at the 85th Oscar awards on January 15, 2013.

Bosnia's candidate, "Djeca" ["Children of Sarajevo"], by Aida Begic,  a story of two war orphans who turn to religion to overcome personal hardships, had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival where it received special mention from the jury.

Later, it was the opening movie of the Sarajevo Film Festival, besides winning awards at Pesaro, Italy and Herceg Novi, Montenegro.

Nejc Gazivoda's movie "Izlet", ["A Trip"], one of the most successful Slovenian movies in years, premiered at the Sarajevo Film Festival, and won awards at other international festivals, such as Nashville and Cleveland.

Croatia's candidate for the best foreign language film is a story of an unscrupulous gynecologist who gets entangled in the world of organized crime and human trafficking.

Branko Schmidt's "Vegetarian Cannibal" won five Golden Arenas at Croatia’s Pula Film Festival and had its international premiere at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Macedonia's offering, "Tremo poluvreme" ["Third half-time"], is a football story set during the Second World War, when the Macedonian team bested the team of occupying Bulgaria.

One of the lead roles went to German actor Richard Sammel, playing the team's Jewish coach, Spitz. Actors Sasko Kocev, Rade Serbedzija as well as the model Katarina Ivankovska also star in the movie.

Serbia's candidate is a story about a modern-day music professor who finds out his real parents were a Jewish couple who gave him away to Serbian friends before being sent to the Nazi-run Semlin concentration camp in Belgrade in 1942. "Kad Svane Dan" ["When Day Breaks"] was written by director Goran Paskaljevic and writer Filip David.

The film's selection by Serbia's Academy of Film Arts caused controversy, as critics and audiences did not see it before it was chosen. It had only one closed screening in Belgrade after the selection, having played the obligatory seven-day run only in the central town of Kragujevac.

Bulgaria's entry for the foreign-language Oscar is "Ketsove" ["Sneakers"], a debut by directors Valeri Yordanov and Ivan Vladimirov.

The film, about six youngsters escaping the dreary city for a long summer break on clean, pristine beaches, won a special mention last year at the Moscow Film Festival.

Romania's submission for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is Cristian Mungiu's psychological drama "Dupa Dealuri" ["Beyond the Hills"].

The movie, which won the Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan) awards at Cannes this year is based on the books of Tatiana Niculescu Bran.

The film revolves around two young women, apart for many years, who reunite at an Orthodox convent.

Their close friendship leads to trouble within the religious community, eventually resulting in a fateful exorcism session. The story is based on real events that reportedly took place in neighboring Moldova.

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