The 92nd Academy Awards, commonly referred to as the Oscars, will honor the best films of 2019. The ceremony will be held in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on February 9, 2020. The awards are mainly US-based; most of the films awarded are US films (and English-based films).
However, non-US films (and films using languages other than English) get a shot in the category "Best International Feature Film", previously known as "Best Foreign Language Film". Over the years, this award has gone almost exclusively to European films: out of the 68 foreign language academy awards given since 1947, 57 have been to European films, 7 to Asian films, 5 to films from the Americas, and 3 to African films. The 3 African films to win this category are Algeria’s “Z” by Costa-Gavras in 1969, Ivory Coast’s “Black and White in Color” (“La Victoire en chantant”) by Jean-Jacques Annaud in 1976 and South Africa’s “Tsotsi,” by Gavin Hood. This year, Africa has submitted more submissions than ever to the category: 10. But will any African film be nominated? Already, one of them has been disqualified. Without further ado, here is the list of films submitted for nomination under the category "Best International Feature Film".
1. Adam (Morocco)
Adam is a 2019 Moroccan drama film directed by Maryam Touzani. The film focuses on Samia, a young unwed pregnant mother, who is looking for work and is taken in by a widowed baker, Abla. The film's story is inspired by real-life events that Touzani experienced when, at a time when being pregnant out of marriage was illegal in Morocco, her parents took in a heavily pregnant woman in Tangier for several days. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section, a section of the Cannes Film Festival official selection, at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
2. Atlantics (Senegal)
Atlantics is a supernatural Senegalese romantic drama film directed by Mati Diop. In the film, construction workers in Dakar working on a futuristic-looking building, after not being paid for months, decide to leave the country by sea. One of the workers is Souleiman, Ada's lover, but Ada is betrothed to another man. Days after the exodus, Souleiman returns, a fire ruins Ada's wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Atlantics is Diop's feature directorial debut. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Diop made history by becoming the first black woman to direct a film featured In Competition at the festival. The film won the Grand Prix. In addition to being submitted to the Oscars, it has also been submitted to the Golden Globe Award in the Best Foreign Language Film Category.
Languages: Wolof, French, English
3. Azali (Ghana)
Azali is a 2018 Ghanaian drama film directed by Kwabena Gyansah. It follows a girl from a small village who flees an arranged marriage to a 70-year-old and ends up in Accra, Ghana's capital. It is Ghana's first submission to the Oscars.
4. Dear Son (Tunisia)
Dear Son is a 2018 Tunisian family drama film directed by Mohammed Ben Attia. The film is centred on a middle-class couple who have high hopes for their only son's future only to find out that he has left to join ISIS in Syria. It premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and went on to be screened at several other international festivals including Chicago, Miami and Sao Paulo.
5. Knuckle City (South Africa)
Knuckle City is a 2019 South African crime film directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. It follows two brothers, a professional boxer and a criminal, in Mdantsane who take their last shot at fame. Both sons to a legendary fighter-turned-gangster, they have each followed their father's footsteps in a different way. Bongile Mantsai who played Dudu Nyakama won Best Actor at the Durban Film Festival. The film was also screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema section. Qubeka also submitted a film to the Oscars last year - Sew the Winter to My Skin - but it wasn't nominated. In 2004, South Africa was nominated to the Oscars with Darrell Roodt's Zulu and, in 2005, the country won with Gavin Hood's Tsotsi.
6. Lionheart (Nigeria)
Lionheart is a 2018 Nigerian drama film directed by Genevieve Nnaji. The film follows Adaeze, a young woman who steps up to run the family transport business after her father experiences some health issues. Adaeze, alongside her uncle, has to save the business from financial ruin whilst facing rampant sexism in the male-dominated business world. The movie is Nnaji's directorial debut.
Languages: English Igbo
Lionheart was disqualified because only 11 minutes of its 95-minute runtime featured non-English language dialogue. This is in violation of the Academy's rule that "an entry's original dialogue track, as well as the completed picture, must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English".
7. Papicha (Algeria)
Papicha is a 2019 drama film directed by Mounia Meddour. It is focused on Nedjma, an 18-year old fashion design student who resists conservatism during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s. Nedjma rejects the new bans set by radicals and fights for her freedom by putting on a fashion show. The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Algeria last had a win in “Z” by Costa-Gavras in 1969.
Languages: Arabic, French
8. Poisonous Roses (Egypt)
Poisonous Roses is a 2018 Egyptian drama film directed by Fawzi Saleh. Based on the 1990 novel Poisonous Roses for Saqr by Ahmed Zaghloul Al-sheety, the film centres two siblings, Tahya and Sakr, who live with their mother in Cairo's tannery district. The overprotective Tahya makes Sakr stay at home while she earns a living by cleaning public toilets. The film premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It is Saleh's feature debut. Egypt has submitted films to the Oscars since 1958 but is yet to get a nomination or a win.
9. Running Against the Wind (Ethiopia)
Running Against the Wind is a 2019 Ethiopian drama film directed by Jan Philipp Weyl. The film is Ethiopia's fourth time making a submission to the Oscars. The film follows two brothers, one dreaming of becoming an Olympic runner while the other dreams of becoming a photographer, who go their separate ways – one brother remains in the countryside and the other ends up in the slums of Addis – but their paths cross again as adults. The film also features a cameo by famed Ethiopian long-distance and gold medallist, Haile Gebrselassie. It is the first film ever submitted to the Academy Awards with the backing of Ethiopia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Ethiopia has never had an Oscars nomination.
10. Subira (Kenya)
Subira is a 2018 Kenyan drama film directed by Ravneet Sippy Chadha. The film tells the story of the free-spirited Subira whose dream to swim in the ocean is against local customs. Subira is also betrothed in an arranged marriage. The film follows Subira as she challenges gender stereotypes and tradition and takes control of her life. Kenya has submitted four films to the Oscars since 2012 but is yet to receive a nomination.
Languages: Kiswahili, English