Antigone, Quebec writer-director Sophie Deraspe’s fifth feature film, will represent Canada in the Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film) category in the upcoming Oscar race in February.
Antigone is a family drama following a teenage girl’s quest for justice as she tries to help her brother escape prison and deportation. Set in contemporary Montreal, the loose adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy reflects on the justice system and the immigrant experience in North America. The film made its world premiere at TIFF where it won the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. It’s set to start its theatrical run in Quebec on Nov. 6.
“We are extremely proud of the calibre and quality of the 16 films submitted to the Selection Committee this year, and equally proud to say that nine of them were directed or co-directed by women,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada, in a release. “Our priority now is to celebrate and encourage the team behind Antigone as they begin the exciting race for the Best International Feature Film Oscar. This is a unique opportunity to showcase Canadian talent on the international stage, and we are delighted to be providing support as a frontline partner in this great adventure.”
Antigone was produced by Marc Daigle and Isabelle Couture (Corporation ACPAV) and distributed by Maison 4:3. Written, directed and shot by Deraspe, Nahéma Ricci stars in the title role joined by Nour Belkhiria, Rachida Oussaada, Antoine Desrochers, Rawad El-Zein, Paul Doucet, Hakim Brahimi, Jean-Sébastien Courchesne and Benoit Gouin.
This year’s selection follows an attempt by Telefilm to issue a revised call for entries in late July over concerns that the strongest Canadian contenders aren’t being forward. A Canadian film hasn’t reached the nomination stage in the category since 2013 when Kim Nguyen’s child soldier war drama War Witch made the cut. Xavier Dolan’s Juste la fin du monde was the last film to be shortlisted in 2016. Denys Arcand’s Les Invasions barbares is the only Canadian film to have won the category back in 2004.
Telefilm had suggested that to be eligible, a film should be represented by an American sales agent/distributor or international sales agent and have been selected by one of 13 eligible international film festivals – Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Venice, TIFF, Busan, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Telluride, South By Southwest or the Tribeca Film Festival. After industry outcry, Telefilm agreed to maintain status quo this year and follow standard Academy eligibility criteria pending further consultation.
As of Thursday, 61 countries had submitted their nominations in the Best International Feature Film category, including the France-Qatar-Germany-Canada-Palestine-Turkey coproduction It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman, submitted by Palestine; and Cuban entry A Translator by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, a Cuban-Canadian co-venture. Last year, 87 countries entered the competitive category.
The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will take place Feb. 9, 2020.
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