October 8, 2013 - 10:11 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its longlist for the 2014 Foreign Language Film Oscar - totaling 76 submitted films, Entertainment Weekly said.
The number, up from 71 films last year, sets a new record for the category and includes frontrunners such as Asghar Farhadi’s The Past from Iran, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt from Denmark, and Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster from Hong Kong. Abdellatif Kechiche’s festival favorite lesbian drama Blue Is the Warmest Color from France, however, failed to make the cut-off date for eligibility, while India controversially submitted Gyan Correa’s The Good Road over Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox.
Russia’s Fyodor Bondarchuk-helmed World War II action-drama Stalingrad also made it to the shortlist.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the $30 million Non-Stop Productions and Art Pictures Studio production is based on an original script by Ilya Tilkin and has no novelistic source. Tilkin studied museum archives and diaries of the Stalingrad Battle participants to write the script. The story involves the Germans trying to take a residential building in Stalingrad (now modern-day Volgograd) that has been stubbornly holding out with a remaining young female resident and several Russian soldiers.
The film features a fresh-faced young cast of relative unknowns in the Russian roles and veteran actors Heiner Lauterbach (Das Experiment) and Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist) as the two main German officers in the story. Ironically enough, Kretschmann, who has been typecast in Nazi roles, had already starred in a 1993 film called Stalingrad directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, in which Kretschmann played a lower-ranking soldier. Moreover, director Bondarchuk, also an actor, portrayed an Ivan in a little-seen 1989 Soviet Production also called simply Stalingrad.
Slated to be released wide in Russia – a minimum of 1,500 screens – on Thursday, October 10, the film will be initially given a limited release in Volgograd as of Saturday, Sept. 28 and Moscow as of Wednesday, October 2 in order to meet Oscar release deadlines. The Chinese release of the film is planned at 3,200 screens – an unprecedented number for a Russian film.
Russia’s Oscar contender short list included Nikolai Lebedev’s hockey biopic Legend No. 17, Yuri Bykov’s Major, Boris Khlebnikov’s A Long and Happy Life and Renata Litvinova’s Rita's Last Fairy Tale.