[October 7, 2013 Update] Ecuador and Uruguay are the last two Latin American countries to announce their respective submissions to the 86th edition of the Academy Awards in the Foreign-Language Film competition. Ecuador has selected Javier Andrade's directorial debut Porcelain Horse / Mejor no hablar de ciertas cosas. The film follows Paco Chavez, who leads a careless life in the coast. One night, he and his younger brother Luis, a punk musician with an even bigger drug addiction problem, enters their parent’s home to steal a porcelain horse to pawn in order to score more drugs. Their father catches them and a fight ensues. The consequences of that fight will haunt both brothers forever and will change the lives of everyone around them. It is the third time that Ecuador submits a film to the Oscar: the first time was in 2000 with Carlos Naranjo's Dreams from the Middle of the World / Sueños en la mitad del mundo, and in 2004 with Sebastián Cordero's Chronicles / Crónicas.
Uruguay has selected the animated feature film Ánina as its candidate. The Uruguayan-Colombian co-production film directed by Alfredo Soderguit tells the story of Anina Yatay Salas, a girl who lives in Montevideo and attends elementary school where her classmates make fun of her because of her name. She has a best friend, but also a girl with whom she doesn’t get along at all: Yisel. One day she fights with Yisel, and so her problems begin: the school principal gives them both an intriguing punishment, a suspended detention. Anina spends her days in that suspension, a period of time with particular tension and questions, and her voiceover guides us as she comments on life with her nice parents, meals, the eyes of gossipy neighbors, homework, and childhood feelings, joys, and fears.
[September 27, 2013 Update] Argentina announced today that the film Wakolda / The German Doctor by Lucía Puenzo will be representing the country at the Oscars. The film debuted at Cannes' Un Certain Regard last May and it's based on Puenzo's own novel. Set in Patagonia in 1960, the film tells the story of a German physician that meets an Argentinean family and follows them on the long desert road to Bariloche where Eva, Enzo and their three children are going to open a lodging house by the Nahuel Huapi lake. This model family reawakens his obsession with purity and perfection, in particular Lilith, a 12 year-old with a body too small for her age. Unaware of his true identity, they accept him as their first guest. They are all gradually won over by this charismatic man, by his elegant manners, his scientific knowledge and his money, until they discover they are living with one of the biggest criminals of all times.
[September 26, 2013 Update] The film El limpiador / The Cleaner, the directorial debut by Adrián Saba will be representing Peru at the Foreign-Language Film category for the 86th edition of the Academy Awards it was announced today. The film was the winner of the New Voices/New Visions Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival. In the midst of a mysterious epidemic, Eusebio, a depressed and isolated Peruvian man, cleans up the bloody detritus left behind by the dying. He finds a young boy, Joaquín, hiding out in an apartment, and brings him home to look after him until he can find his aunt. Eusebio makes eyeholes in a cardboard box, and convinces a frightened Joaquin that if he wears it on his head it will protect him. A tentative trust and sense of caring gradually builds between the two; Eusebio is quietly transformed as the epidemic rages on.
[September 23, 2013 Update] Colombia announced today that Juan Andrés Arango's debut feature La Playa DC will represent the country in the Oscar's Foreign Language category. The film, which premiered at Cannes' Un Certain Regard, is a coming of age set in a culturally vibrant, turbulent city. The sounds of local hip-hop pour from the streets as Tomas, a young Afro-Colombian barber's apprentice, tries to locate Jairo, his younger brother, who has recently disappeared. His search compels him to face his past and leave aside the influence of his brothers to find his own identity. Through a social-realist lens, Arango portrays the complexities of identity politics in contemporary Latin America and produces a fresh portrait of the largely misrepresented Bogotá and its inhabitants, affirming the possibility for youths to find their way.
Five Latin American countries have already selected and announced their official submissions to the Foreign Language Film category for the 86th edition of the Academy Awards which will take place on March 2, 2014. So far Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela, have announced the films that will be representing each of them for the Oscars.
Brazil has selected Kleber Mendonça Filho's directorial debut O som ao redor / Neighboring Sounds which was the winner of the top prize for Best Film at the last edition of the Cinema Tropical Awards. Life in a middle-class neighborhood in present day Recife takes an unexpected turn after the arrival of an independent private security firm. The presence of these men brings a sense of safety and a good deal of anxiety to a culture which runs on fear.
Chile, which was the only Latin American country that earned a nomination last year with Pablo Larraín's No marking a first ever, is looking to repeat the nomination with Sebastián Lelio's Gloria, produced by Larraín. Gloria (played by Paulina García) is a 58 year old divorcée. Determined to defy old age and loneliness, she rushes headlong into a whirl of singles’ parties on the hunt for instant gratification – which just leads repeatedly to disappointment and emptiness. But then she meets an ex-naval officer seven years her senior to whom she feels romantically inclined. However, the encounter presents unexpected challenges and Gloria gradually finds herself being forced to confront her own dark secrets.
The Dominican Republic will be represented by Ronni Castillo's romantic comedy ¿Quién manda? / Who's the Boss? It's the sixth submission by the Caribbean country to the Oscars, and the third in a row.
Mexico has picked Cannes' winner Heli by Amat Escalante. The controversial film tells the story of Estela, a 12 year old girl who has just fallen crazy in love with a young police cadet who wants to run away with her and get married. Trying to achieve this dream, her family will have to live the violence that is devastating the region. The film received the prize for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.
Last, but not least, Venezuela will submit the drama Brecha en el silencio / Breach in the Silence by Luis Rodríguez and Andrés Rodríguez. The film follows Ana, an adolescent in a humble background, who has spent her years working to support her two younger brothers and silently tolerating abuse from her pervert stepfather and indifference from her mother. Incapable of resigning herself to letting her brothers suffer the same fate, Ana decides to save them.
Additionally two other countries have selected films made by Latin American directors. New Zealand has submitted White Lies / Tuakiri Huna by Mexican director Dana Rotberg, while Portugal has selected Linhas de Wellington / Lines of Wellington by Paris-based Chilean director Valeria Sarmiento.
Other Latin American countries expected to submit candidates are Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay. All of the candidates will be made public by early October. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the shortlist of 9 pre-nominees early January and the nominees on January 16, 2014. The last Latin American film to have won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was Juan José Campanella's El secreto de sus ojos / The Secret in their Eyes in 2009.