France Selects Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’ As Foreign Language Oscar Submission

Guy Ferrandis/Sony Pictures Classics

France has chosen to put forth Paul Verhoeven’s first French-language film, Elle, as its submission for the Foreign Language Oscar race. The selection committee at national film board the CNC made the decision on the Isabelle Huppert-starrer Monday, after “long and passionate debates.” It chose from a field of four movies that had been shortlisted. They also included François Ozon’s Frantz; Anne Fontaine’s Agnus Dei; and Danièle Thompson’s Cézanne Et Moi.

Elle was a hit in Cannes where many had pegged Huppert for a Best Actress prize in a career high performance. The film is a blackly comic thriller about a woman’s life and past that opens with her rape at the hands of a masked intruder. Where it goes from there has provoked discussion as Huppert’s steely businesswoman is caught in a game of cat and mouse on the trail of the rapist.

Sony Pictures Classics acquired early on in Cannes and is planning a November 11 release. Verhoeven has previously represented Holland four times at the Oscars and scored a nomination for 1973’s Turkish Delights. This is the first time the Basic Instinct and Total Recall director is working in French and the first time he reps France.

Said Ben Said’s SBS Productions produced and sold the film internationally. It was released in France in May, selling over 550K tickets.

France scored a nomination last year with Deniz Gamze Erguven’s Mustang — the first time the country managed a nod since 2009’s A Prophet. The six-year dry spell was the longest gap between nominations for France in the history of the Oscars.

Some industry insiders were surprised not to see Houda Benyamina’s Divines make the French shortlist. The film won the Camera d’Or prize in Cannes after running in Directors’ Fortnight — also the discovery ground for Mustang.

The French selection committee this year was made up of Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux, César academy president Alain Terzian, Unifrance president Jean-Paul Salomé; CNC exec Teresa Cremisi; actresses Sandrine Bonnaire and Léa Seydoux; and director Eric Tolédano.

  • 2016 Foreign Language Film Oscar Submissions

  • AfghanistanParting – Navid Mahmoudi
  • AlbaniaChromium – Bujar Alimani
  • AlgeriaThe Well – Lotfi Bouchouchi
  • ArmeniaEarthquake – Sarik Andreasyan
  • AustraliaTanna – Bentley Dean & Martin Butler
  • AustriaStefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe – Maria Schrader
  • BelgiumThe Ardennes – Robin Pront
  • BoliviaSealed Cargo – Julia Vargas-Weise
  • Bosnia and HerzegovinaDeath in Sarajevo – Danis Tanovic
  • BrazilLittle Secret – David Schurmann
  • Bulgaria Losers – Ivaylo Hristova
  • ChileNeruda – Pablo Larrain
  • Colombia Alias Maria – José Luis Rugeles Gracia
  • CroatiaOn the Other Side – Zrinko Ogresta
  • CubaThe Companion – Pavel Giroud
    Czech Republic Lost in Munich – Petr Zelenk
    Denmark Land of Mine – Martin Zandvliet
    Dominican RepublicSugar Flower – Fernando Baez Mella
  • EgyptClash – Mohamed Diab
    EstoniaMother – Kadri Kõusaare
  • FinlandThe Happiest Day inn the Life of Olli Maki – Juho Kuosmanen
  • FranceElle – Paul Verhoeven
  • GeorgiaHouse of Others – Rusudan Glurjidze
  • GermanyToni Erdmann – Maren Ade
  • GreeceChevalier – Athina Rachel Tsangari
  • Hong KongPort of Call – Philip Yung
  • HungaryKills on Wheels – Atilla Till
  • IcelandSparrows – Rúnar Rúnarsson
  • IndiaVisaranai – Vetrimaaran
  • IndonesiaLetters from Prague – Angga Dwimas Sasongko
  • IranThe Salesman – Asghar Farhadi
  • IraqEl Clásico – Halkawt Mustafa
  • IsraelSand Storm – Elite Zexer
  • ItalyFire At Sea – Gianfranco Rosi
  • JapanHaha to Kuraseba – Yoji Yamada
  • KosovoHome Sweet Home – Faton Bajraktari
    KyrgyzstanA Father’s Will – Bakyt Mukul & Dastan Japar Uulu
    Latvia Dawn – Laila Pakalniņa
    Very Big Shot – Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya
    LithuaniaSeneca’s Day – Kristijonas Vildziunas
    LuxembourgVoices from Chernobyl – Pol Cruchten
    MexicoDesierto – Jonas Cuaron
    Montenegro The Black Pin – Ivan Marinovic
    A Mile in My Shows – Said Khallaf
  • NepalThe Black Hen – Min Bahadur Bham
  • The NetherlandsTonio – Paula van der Oest
  • New ZealandA Flickering Truth – Pietra Brettkelly
  • NorwayThe King’s Choice – Erik Poppe
  • PakistanMah e Mir – Anjum Shahzad
  • PanamaSalsipuedes – Ricardo Aguilar Navarro & Manuel Rodríguez
  • PeruVideophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes) – Juan Daniel Fernández
  • PhilippinesMa’ Rosa – Brillante Mendoza
  • PortugalLetters from War – Ivo M. Ferreira
  • RomaniaSieranevada – Cristi Puiu
  • RussiaParadise – Andrei Konchalovsky
  • Saudi ArabiaBarakah Meets Barakah – Mahmoud Sabbagh
  • SerbiaTrain Driver’s Diary – Miloš Radović
    SingaporeApprentice – Boo Junfeng
  • SlovakiaEva Nová – Marko Škop
  • SloveniaHouston, We Have a Problem – Žiga Virc
  • South KoreaThe Age of Shadows – Kim Jee-woon
  • SpainJulieta – Pedro Almodovar
  • SwedenA Man Called Ove – Hannes Holm
  • SwitzerlandMy Life as a Courgette – Claude Barras
  • ThailandKarma – Kanittha Kwanyu
  • TunisiaThe Flower of Aleppo – Ridha Behi
  • UkraineUkrainian Sheriffs – Roman Bondarchuk
  • United KingdomUnder The Shadow – Babak Anvari
  • UruguayBreadcrumbs – Manane Rodriguez
  • VenezuelaFrom Afar – Lorenzo Vigas
  • VietnamYellow Flowers on the Green Grass – Victor Vu

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