Rima Das’s Village Rockstars is out of the race for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. The National Award-winning film, India’s official entry in the category, did not make it to the shortlist of nine titles announced by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday.
The shortlist for the Documentary Short Subject category, however, includes an Indian connection. Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi’s Period. End of Sentence, which follows the efforts of a group of women to push for menstrual hygiene in a village near Delhi, is contending with nine other titles. The film’s producer is Guneet Monga (The Lunchbox). The documentary chronicles the women’s experiences after low-cost pad manufacturing machine, invented by Arunachalam Muruganantham (the inspiration for the Akshay Kumar-starrer Pad Man), is installed in the village.
An Indian element also features in the Best Animated Short Film contender Bird Karma, directed by William Salazar for DreamWorks Shorts. The five-minute film follows a bird chasing a golden-red fish as semi-classical Indian music plays in the background. Ten films have been shortlisted in this category, including Pixar’s Bao.
The shortlist in the Best Foreign Language Film category include Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexico-set Roma and Japanese drama Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival this year. The final five nominees will be announced on January 22, 2019, and the 91st Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 24.
The other shortlisted titles are Colombian crime drama Birds of Passage by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, Gustav Moller’s Danish thriller The Guilty, Kazakhstani film Ayka by Sergei Dvortsevoy, Nadine Labaki’s Lebanese drama Capernaum, Polish film Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) and South Korean drama Burning. Directed by Lee Chang-dong, the psychological thriller is the first Korean film to make the shortlist.
India has never won an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Submissions in recent years include Court (2015), Visaranai (2016) and Newton (2017). Only three Indian films have been nominated for the award: Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Lagaan (2001).
The Academy has announced shortlists in nine categories in all (see the full list here). In the Makeup and Hairstyling category, the nominees include Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Suspiria and Vice. Hit romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians has been shortlisted in the Music category alongside Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, Avengers: Infinity War, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, A Quiet Place and nine other films.
Shortlists have also been announced for Visual Effects (Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, First Man and Solo: A Star Wars Story are among those in contention); Live Action Short Film and Music (Original Song).