This year, the Academy set another record in its foreign-language Oscar category, attracting
submissions from 83 different countries. That’s a major accomplishment for a competition whose organizers aspire to host the cinematic equivalent of the Olympics — but one in which every country is invited to select one (and only one) film to represent itself for the top prize.
There’s just one problem: Foreign cinema doesn’t work that way.
Hollywood studios may have deep enough pockets to make all-American movies, but the film industries of nearly every other country depend on partnerships with financiers and talent from around the globe. On that front, no country is more involved in international co-productions than France.
Technically speaking, of the 83 Oscar-submitted films, 13 are “French,” with examples ranging from Turkish entry “Winter Sleep,” which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year (co-produced with French and German coin), to Mauritanian selection “Timbuktu” (whose financing is 100% French).
Just go down the list.
Belgian-made “Two Days, One Night” boasts a French star (Marion Cotillard) and French backers.
From Israel to Chile, Georgia to Mauritania, French co-productions are dominating the Oscar nomination for best foreign film. I quite admire this open-minded approach to investing in films with international partners, and it really is a deal that gets the best of both worlds for the French and for their partners.