UPDATE WEDNESDAY AM: It’s that time of year again, when committees gather in overseas countries to determine what their Foreign Language Oscar entry will be. Earlier today, Turkey’s decision was revealed (see below) and now another film that won prizes in Cannes has been selected from Hungary. Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, a buzzed about cautionary tale that features a gang of stray dogs who seize an opportunity to escape from a pound and revolt against mankind, will do the honors. The movie won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section, and at the time, my colleague Pete Hammond said it was perhaps the most memorable of all the films he’d seen at the festival, calling it “haunting, and quite extraordinary.” Also, the lead canine won the Palme Dog. Magnolia Pictures has U.S. distribution.
PREVIOUS: For the fourth time in 11 years, director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has had a film selected as the Turkish submission for the Foreign Language Oscar race. Winter Sleep, which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes has been chosen, it was announced via Twitter by Turkey’s Culture Minister Omer Celik. This marks a return to a Palme d’Or winning movie being its country’s rep after the controversy surrounding last year’s Blue Is The Warmest Color which was not eligible because of its relase date (in a twist, it could compete for France this year, however). Winter Sleep, which my colleague Pete Hammond has called “endless, but admired” — it’s three hours and 16 minutes long — is a Chekovian epic that’s set in Anatolia. There, a former actor turned hotel owner is involved in a decaying relationship with his wife, as his sister suffers from her recent divorce. In winter, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities. Ceylan is a Cannes regular who has previously won two Grand Jury Prizes and a Best Director award, but he’s never been nominated for an Oscar. He’s notorious for his long films, and the running length of Winter Sleep should provide a challenge when it hits U.S. theaters via Adopt Films which has a very keen eye for potential Foreign Language representatives. It was released in June in Turkey and has sold about 240K tickets for roughly $1.3M in box office. Adopt is eyeing the end of the year for a domestic bow. In announcing the selection, Celik said on Twitter: “I wish Nuri Bilge success and I hope that he will show the same success at the Oscars as he achieved great success in the international arena.”