Twenty-five films from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia will compete for the 2021 Oscars.
The next Academy Awards will be held on April 25, 2021. Applications for the Best Foreign Language Film category have already been closed and 25 films from Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus will compete for the nomination for this year. Beginning in Slovakia and ending in Kyrgyzstan, historical dramas predominate among the films, although there are also a few alternative, art-house films based on individual stories.
Here are some of the featured films from the region:
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Quo Vadis, Aida?
Srebrenica, July 1995. Aida works as a UN translator. When the army of the Republic of Serbia occupied the city, the Aida family was among thousands of people seeking refuge in UN camps. As soon as Aida gains access to secret information, she is faced with serious decisions that will decide the future of the people dear to her, but she herself is in great danger.
It is true that the film is nominated for an Oscar in the name of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Quo Vadis, Aida? It is a joint international product that offers viewers a very sincere and emotional vision of one of Europe’s darkest and most inexplicable recent histories.
Dea Kulumbegashvili’s first full-length feature film at recent festivals has been hailed by critics and viewers around the world.
The film tells the story of Jana – the wife of a religious leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses in one of the villages of Georgia. The village temple is set on fire by a group of violent extremists, causing chaos among the people, while the film simultaneously depicts Jana’s internal struggles against her own marriage and patriarchal society.
The beginning was a real hit at the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival, where it was awarded the main prize of the festival, the Golden Sink. The film also won Best Director, Best Actress and Best Screenplay, making it a very strong competitor to the upcoming Oscars.
The title of Valentin Vasnianovich’s film may be a tribute to the ancient Greek myth of the ideal state, but on screen Atlantis does not really represent a peaceful utopia.
The events of the film take place in post-fiction war Ukraine and tell the story of Sergei – a veteran who joins a team of volunteer gravediggers in hopes of relieving his own post-traumatic stress. Even the empty landscape in which he works soon becomes more of a backdrop as the film sheds light on the personal and environmental consequences of the war.
The film premiered in 2019 at the Toronto Film Festival, and also won the title of best film in the Orizzonti section at the 76th Venice Film Festival, which is why it has a good chance of success at future Oscars.
On October 30, 2015, a fire broke out in the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest. The fire engulfed people, killing 27 people and injuring 180. In the weeks following the incident, another 37 people died from non-life-threatening wounds as a result of hospital neglect.
After the incident, director Alexander Nanau followed the journalists of Gazeta Sporturilor – a sports newspaper whose several writers suspected the government of being responsible for the fire. In the following years, a team of journalists opened a Pandora’s box that exposed the entire network of corruption in the Romanian healthcare system.
The Nanau team is strong, intense and courageous, and it reflects on a daily and inspiring basis how a small team of journalists managed, through a tireless investigation, eyewitness accounts and mega-shooters, to uncover one of the greatest political tragedies in Romania’s recent history.
Russia: Dear Comrades!
Konchalovsky, who is representing his country for the third time at the Oscars, is back this time with a historical drama depicting the events of 1962, when the Russian government ordered the mass shooting of striking workers at one of the factories in Novocherkassk. The story is told from the perspective of a party activist.
This film is a genre similar to Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, which was nominated for last year’s Oscars, but dear comrades! It is performed in a completely different style and is one of the strongest representatives of the best foreign language film category. The film is shot in black and white, in a square format, and it offers an impressive, art-house view of a controversial but lesser-known episode in Russian recent Soviet history.