Belgium, Hong Kong Make Popular Foreign-Language Oscar Picks; India Confounds

As the October 1st deadline approaches, Foreign Language Oscar submissions are coming fast and furious. The latest high-profile entries are Belgium’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, Hong Kong’s The Grandmaster and, especially notable for its unexpected appearance, India’s The Good Road. The latter was selected over the weekend and spurred consternation in India and elsewhere as many had expected Ritesh Batra’s Cannes Critics’ Week charmer The Lunchbox to be chosen. That film was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics in Cannes and had been perceived as the frontrunner for India’s Oscar entry; its biggest competitors appeared to be drama Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and comedy/drama English Vinglish. Instead, Gyan Correa’s Good Road, which weaves together three storylines on a highway in the rural land of Gujarat, was given the nod. Backed by the National Film Development Corporation of India, it won an Indian National Film Award as Best Gujarati movie a few months ago and is the first film from the region to ever be submitted to the Oscars. It does not have a U.S. distributor, leading some to wonder how effective a campaign it can run.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’

Wong Kar-wai will represent Hong Kong with this year’s martial arts epic Grandmaster. The Weinstein Company film was released in late August in the U.S. where it’s taken about $6.3M; the worldwide cume is about $63M. Wong’s previous submission to the Foreign Language race was 2000’s In The Mood For Love which was not ultimately nominated. The last film out of Hong Kong to receive a nomination was 1993’s Farewell My Concubine. The Grandmaster was the opening-night film in Berlin earlier this year.

Also a Berlin debut, romantic drama Broken Circle Breakdown has been named as the official entry from Belgium. Felix van Groeningen’s film won the Berlin Audience Award and went on to take the Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Veerle Baetens) prizes in Tribeca. Tribeca Film later acquired it and will release Stateside on November 1st. The love story set in the world of bluegrass music won nine Ensor Awards in Belgium where the soundtrack has also become the all-time best-seller.