It’s always great to see nonfiction films nominated for Oscars outside the ten specifically designated documentary slots. One of the other categories where they can occasionally be found is Best Foreign Language Film. I think every year at least one country submits a doc as their official entry for the award, and in very rare occasions a nonfiction film is actually nominated, as in the case of The Missing Picture and Waltz with Bashir. This year, three of the 81 total submissions are classified as documentary. Here’s what we know about them:
Cloudy Times (El Tiempo Nublado) — Submitted by Paraguay
Director Arami Ullon’s directorial debut is also Paraguay’s first submission to the Academy Awards in the category. The personal film is about Ullon’s relationship with her mother, whom she’s had to look after since a very young age. Ullon grew up an only child and her father had abandoned them, and her mother has long suffered from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. But in recent years the filmmaker has been living in Switzerland (co-producer of the doc) while her mother stayed behind in Paraguay with an untrained nurse. Now her mother’s health is getting worse and Ullon must consider returning to her home country to care for her again full-time.
Learn more at the film’s website and watch the trailer below.
Iraqi Odyssey — Submitted by Switzerland
So technically this is sort of the second Swiss production contending in the category. Directed by Baghdad-born filmmaker Samir (Forget Baghdad: Jews and Arabs — The Iraqi Connection), the 3D documentary is also about the director’s own family members. One third is about his grandfather, who fought against British colonialism, another third is about his many relatives who emigrated from Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s, and a final third is about people who’ve left since the American occupation.
Find out more about the project, which is more than just the film on its website and watch the trailer below.
The Wanted 18 — Submitted by Palestine
Another co-production, this documentary is directed by Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan (a 1980 Oscar nominee in the documentary feature category for Going the Distance and the cinematographer of 1984 Oscar winner in the doc short category for Flamenco 5:15) and Palestinian artist Amer Shomali. The subject is a Palestinian community that tried to set up its own dairy industry in the 1980s (they’re referred to as “lactivists”), and it’s told from the perspective of the cows, who are portrayed in claymation.
Learn more about the doc from its website and watch the teaser trailer below.