Austria’s Oscar Selection; Wayne Rooney Amazon Doc; Omar Sy Netflix Pact; EFA Debut Nominees — Global Briefs

By Andreas Wiseman, Tom Grater

‘Great Freedom’
‘Great Freedom’ Freibeuter film / Roh film / Mubi

Austria Selects Great Freedom For Oscars

Austria has selected Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom as its official submission for Best International Feature Film for the 94th Academy Awards. Set in post-war Germany, the movie tells the story of Hans who is imprisoned time and time again for being homosexual. Due to Paragraph 175, which prohibited homosexual acts in Germany, his desire for freedom is systematically destroyed. The one steady relationship in his life becomes his long-time cellmate, Viktor (Georg Friedrich), a convicted murderer. The film stars Franz Rogowski (Victoria) and Berlinale Silver Bear awardee Georg Friedrich (The Piano Teacher) in leading roles, with a screenplay by Thomas Reider and Meise. Producers are Sabine Moser, Oliver Neumann, and Benny Drechsel. The 2021 Cannes entry and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner will be released by MUBI theatrically in the U.S. and UK on March 4, 2022. Meanwhile, per the Japanese Filmmakers Federation, Japan has selected Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Cannes title Drive My Car as its Oscar entry. The Haruki Murakami short story adaptation, which is playing at a host of fall festivals, tells the story of a widower director and his stoical female chauffeur as they drive to Hiroshima.

Amazon Reveals Wayne Rooney Soccer Doc

Amazon today revealed Wayne Rooney doc Rooney, directed by BAFTA winner Matt Smith (Rio and Kate: Becoming A Stepfamily). The film looks at the highs and lows of the former England and Manchester United ace’s career as well as the scrutiny he faced in his personal life, with contributions from soccer personalities including David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Gary Neville and Sven-Göran Eriksson as well as wife Colleen and other friends and family. Pic is produced by Lorton Entertainment in association with Smith’s Circle Circle Films. Ed Barratt, Julian Bird and Lucy Hardy produce while Stevan Riley, Matt Robins, Paul Stretford, Duncan Ford, Joel Kennedy and Arthur Landon exec-produce. Amazon will release in early 2022. The film will follow a doc we first revealed as an Amazon title earlier this year: Lioness: The Nicola Adams Story, about Brit boxing champ Nicola Adams. Adams is the undefeated WBO champion, double Olympic gold medalist and recipient of an OBE. In 2020 she made history by becoming part of the first ever Strictly Come Dancing same-sex dancing couple. Pic is directed by Helena Coan (Audrey). Producing are Salon Pictures’ Nick Taussig and Annabel Wigoder and Rep Productions’ Laure Vaysse. This one debuts on Amazon in November.

Omar Sy & Netflix Enter Film Partnership

Lupin Star Omar Sy has inked a multi-year feature film deal with Netflix. The agreement will see Sy’s unnamed Paris and Los Angeles based production company develop original films for Netflix, with the actor starring in and being an executive producer on the projects. Following Lupin, Sy is teaming again with director Louis Leterrier on action comedy film Tour de Force, co-starring Laurent Lafitte, wich will launch on Netflix in 2022. “I have experienced Netflix’s collaboration with artists and their passion to bring unique and diverse stories to homes all over the world. I am very happy to have the opportunity to extend the relationship and look forward to this next step of our journey together,” said Sy.

Six Nominated For EFA Discovery Prize 

The European Film Academy has revealed the six films up for the European Discovery Prize 2021 – Prix FIPRESCI, which goes to a first-time feature director. The films are Beginning by Dea Kulumbegashvili; Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell; Lamb by Valdimar Jóhansson; Playground by Laura Wandel; Pleasure by Ninja Thyberg; and The Whaler Boy by Philipp Yuryev. This year’s nominations were decided on by a committee comprised of European Film Academy Board Members Anita Juka (Croatia) and Joanna Szymańska (Poland), producer/screenwriter Paula Alvarez Vaccaro (UK, Italy), producer Vladimer Katcharava (Georgia) as well as film critics Marta Balaga (Finland, Poland), Janet Baris (Turkey), Andrei Plakhov (Russia), Frédéric Ponsard (France) and Britt Sørensen (Norway) as representatives of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. The EFAs are awarded in December.

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