by Antonio Mejías-Rentas
With an Oct. 1 deadline for countries to submit fi lms for Academy Award consideration, entries from Spain and various Latin American countries are already in the run for a nomination in the foreign language category.
Spain’s entry is El orfanato, a horror fi lm directed by Juan Antonio Bayona that’s set in an orphanage. The film has gained international acclaim prior to its commercial opening in Spain, Oct. 11. It was fi rst seen last May in Cannes, Last week it had its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival.
Should El orfanato pick up an Oscar nomination, it would be the 20th for Spain, which has won the foreign language award four times, the last time In 2004 for Alejandro Amenábar’s Mar adentro.
El orfanato is produced by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, whose El laberinto del fauno was nominated last year in representation of Mexico. This year’s Mexican submission is also an international hit that premiered in Cannes and has yet to open commercially in its own country. Carlos Reygada’s Stellet Licht is about the moral confl icts of a man in a Mennonite community in northern Mexico.
Most of its dialogue is in the old German dialect of its people.
Mexico has been nominated a total of seven times. Prior to last year’s nomination for Laberinto, it competed in 2002 with El crimen del padre Amaro and in 2000 with Amores perros.
Another early submission came last week from Argentina, hoping to compete with XXY, a fi lm about a teenage hermaphrodite which marks the directing debut of Lucia Fuenzo.
She’s the daughter of Luis Puenzo, director of the 1985 La historla ofi cial, Argentina’s sole Oscar winner. Argentina has been nominated fi ve times.
A rare entry from Puerto Rico has also been submitted: director Carlitos Ruíz first film, Maldeamores.
The fi lm, about three Unconnected love stories, was produced by Oscar winning actor Benicio del Toro.
Puerto Rico has been nominated once: in 1989 for Jacobo Morales’s Lo que le paso a Santiago. Nominations for the 80th Academy Awards will be announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Jan. 22.
The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place Feb. 24 in Hollywood.