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    January 19, 2012


    The Oscar nominations for the Best Foreign Language Film award are now down to only nine, as announced by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and source-picked from /Film. Out of a field of 63 movies are eligible for the award, with the full list can be seen at this link; there seems to be some surprise shaking up the top nine. Mind you that these are not the nomination list, rather the nine that would be considered into the final five. Check out the top nine after the jump.

    The list is a bit unusual because some of the heavily-favorites like China's "The Flowers of War" and Mexico's "Miss Bala" missed the list despite having plenty of attentions. Fresh from winning the Golden Globe Award, Iran's darling "A Separation" leads the pack of nine and immediately a favorite to take home the trophy. Here are some rundown on the list of nine:

    Bullhead, directed by Michael R. Roskam (Belgium)

    The young Limburg cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman, and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from Jacky's past, set in motion a chain of events with farreaching consequences. BULLHEAD is an exciting tragedy about fate, lost innocence and friendship, about crime and punishment, but also about conflicting desires and the irreversibility of a man's destiny.

    Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau (Canada)

    Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically. While the class goes through a long healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir's painful former life; nor that he is at risk of being deported at any moment. Adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere's play, Bachir Lazhar depicts the encounter between two distant worlds and the power of self-expression. Using great sensitivity and humor, Philippe Falardeau follows a humble man who is ready to transcend his own loss in order to accompany children beyond the silence and taboo of death.

    SuperClasico, directed by Ole Christian Madsen (Denmark)

    “Wine store owner Christian (Anders W. Berthelsen) is on the verge of bankruptcy and he is as unsuccessful in just about every other aspect of life. His wife Anna (Paprika Steen) has left him. She now works as a successful sports agent in Buenos Aires and lives a life of luxury with star football player Juan Diaz. One day, Christian and their 16-year-old son get on a plane for Buenos Aires. Christian arrives under the pretense of wanting to sign the divorce papers with Anna, but in truth, he wants to try to win her back…

    Pina, directed by Wim Wenders (Germany)

    During the preparation of the documentary about Pina Bausch, she died unexpectedly. Wim Wenders cancelled the film production, but the other dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal convinced him to make the film anyway. It now shows these other dancers, talking about her and dancing in her honor, not just in the theater, but most of the time at various outdoor locations.

    A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

    Nader ('Peyman Moaadi' )and Simin (Leila Hatami) argue about living abroad. Simin prefers to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their only daughter, Termeh. However, Nader refuses to go because he thinks he must stay in Iran and take care of his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who suffers from Alzheimers. However, Simin is determined to get a divorce and leave the country with her daughter.

    Footnote, directed by Joseph Cedar (Israel)

    The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel's most prestigious national award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation.

    Omar Killed Me, directed by Roschdy Zem (Morocco)

    On February 2, 1994, Omar Raddad, a Moroccan who spoke little French, was sentenced to 18 years in French prison for the brutal murder of Ghislaine Marchal, a wealthy woman who employed him as a gardener. Before dying, she took the time to write in her own blood, "Omar m'a tuer" (roughly translated as "Omar to kill me" due to a spelling error— it should have read "Omar m'a tuĂ©"). But would an educated woman have made such a sloppy spelling mistake? Could the phrase have been written by her murderer in an effort to frame Omar? Despite a lack of forensic and DNA evidence, and despite the accused's solid alibi, the jury found him guilty. Shocked by the sloppy work of the French justice system and convinced of the gardener's innocence, writer Pierre-Emmanuel Vaugrenard moved to Nice to conduct his own investigation and to write a book on the subject. While the humble, illiterate worker languished in prison in Grasse, Vaugrenard uncovered amazing facts. Although made aware of the new developments, and supported by his family, Omar continues to doubt that justice will ever be served

    In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland (Poland)

    IN DARKNESS tells the true story of Leopold Soha who risks his own life to save a dozen people from certain death. Initially only interested in his own good, the thief and burglar hides Jewish refugees for 14 months in the sewers of the Nazi-occupied town of Lvov (former Poland).

    Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, directed by Wei Te-sheng (Taiwan)

    During the Japanese rule of Taiwan, the Seediq were forced to lose their own culture and give up their faith. Men were subject to harsh labor and kept from traditional hunting; whereas women had to serve the Japanese policemen and their families by doing the household work and giving up their traditional weaving work. Above all, they were forbidden to tattoo their faces. And these tattoos were seen as the Seediq's traditional belief to transform themselves into Seediq Bale ("true humans"). Mona Rudao, the protagonist, witnessed the repression by the Japanese over a period of 30 years. Sometime between autumn and winter 1930, when the slave labor is at its harshest, a young Seediq couple are married and a joyful party is thrown. At the same time, a newly appointed Japanese policeman goes on his inspection tour to this tribe. Mona Rudao's first son, Tado Mona, offers wine to the policeman with gusto...
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