UPDATED: Egypt’s Winter Of Discontent has been selected by the Filmmakers Syndicate to compete for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar. Ibrahim El-Batout’s film screened in the Venice Horizons section in 2012 as well as at the Cario and Dubai Film Festivals. Set during the revolution of January 2011, it tells the interwoven stories of three men. Amr Waked, who’s had roles in Salmon Fishing In The Yemen and Syriana, stars and is a producer. He sat on the Venice Horizons jury this year despite what he said at the time were efforts to the contrary by the Muslim Brotherhood. Double Dutch International has sales on Winter. Egypt has never scored an Oscar nomination.
PREVIOUSLY: As expected, Asghar Farhadi‘s Le Passé (The Past) has been chosen by Iran to represent the country as this year’s Foreign Language Oscar submission. Farhadi won the prize in 2011 with A Separation, also representing Iran. Although that film was handled internationally by Paris-based Memento Films International, The Past was also produced, shot and financed in France. This has led to some criticism from the Fars News Agency, which is considered to be close to Iranian conservatives. According to AFP, Fars wrote after the decision, “Contrary to A Separation, there is nothing Iranian in this film apart from a character who could have come from any other country… It would have been preferable to select a purely Iranian film.” (It’s worth noting that last year’s Foreign Language Oscar winner, Amour, looked very French on paper, but director Michael Haneke is Austrian and his film was the entry from Austria.) The Past centers on an Iranian man who returns to France after several years away to sign divorce papers from his French wife. The Artist star Bérénice Bejo won the Best Actress prize in Cannes for the film which also won the prize of the Ecumenial Jury. Sony Pictures Classics has U.S. rights to the film and opens it on December 20th. Iran sat out last year’s Oscars in protest over the Innocence Of Muslims video which was made in the U.S.