With our fall festival, GEMS, just one month away, it’s easy to forget that we’re quickly heading into Oscar season. Around this time every year, countries outside of the U.S. have the opportunity to submit a film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all in the hope of being one of the few pictures nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. So it certainly sweetens the pot that 3 of the 14 films that make up our mid-season line-up are the official selections for their respective counties; the films that these countries feel represent the very best cinema they have to offer this year.
The Assassin, which was directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien — who won the prestigious Best Director award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival – is Taiwan’s official submission. It’s a martial arts film that fully embraces realism, rather than the over-the-top, slow motion style that’s become somewhat synonymous with the genre. As one of the Festival’s esteemed programmers, Orlando Rojas, puts it: “Every frame is a painting.”
Chile’s official submission, The Club, is helmed by director Pablo Larraín, who directed our 2013 festival favorite and Oscar-nominated film No, starring Gael García Bernal. An indictment on the Catholic Church’s improper handling of moral transgressions within the Church, The Club promises to have a quiet intensity that makes it a must-watch for fans of Larraín’s previous work.
Lastly, there’s Embrace of the Serpent, a stunning black and white film and Colombia’s official submission to the 2016 Academy Awards. The Amazon-set Serpent tells the story of the relationship between a shaman and two scientists over the course of 40 years. The film screened in the Director’s Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and was awarded the top honor.
Last year, a record 83 countries submitted films for consideration, with the Best Foreign Language Oscar eventually going to the acclaimed Polish film Ida.
GEMS will take place at MDC’s Tower Theater from October 22-25. Tickets for GEMS, including all the above titles, go on sale to Miami Film Society members on September 25th, and to the general public on October 1st.