Shambala Picked as Kyrgyzstan’s International Oscar Contender (EXCLUSIVE)

“Shambala,” written and directed by Kyrgyz filmmaker Artykpai Suyundukov, has been selected as Kyrgyzstan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 94th Academy Awards.

The film is a portrait of a boy living with his family in a protected mountain forest, whose childhood world of myths and legends begins to clash with the harsh realities of the adult world.

“The film reflects on the importance of cultural values, the loss of moral orientation, and the synergetic beauty of both wisdom and youth. The film also explores the complex ecological and environmental issues that come with the inevitable invasion of civilization,” according to a statement.

The film is based on Chingiz Aitmatov’s novella “The White Ship,” and was developed by Suyundukov over the course of 40 years. In a recent interview Suyundukov said that, to some extent, the long realization of the idea gave him time to rethink the screenplay and view the story through the eyes of a man living in the 21st century.

It was shot by the late Kyrgysz cinematographer Murat Aliyev. It is produced by National Film Studio Kyrgyzfilm in collaboration with Aitysh Film.

The film premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival, and won best director at the Kolkata Film Festival and best film of the CIS and Baltics at the Nika Awards in Russia.

Suyundukov said: “I feel great excitement and joy about ‘Shambala’ representing Kyrgyzstan, but on the other hand, it is a great responsibility. However, I really hope that, with this film, we will be able to fully represent our small, beautiful homeland, and our film will not be lost among the films from other countries.”

The Oscar shortlist will be announced on Dec. 21. — Leo Barraclough

IRELAND

As previously reported, Seán Breathnach’s “Shelter” was chosen by the Irish Film and Television Academy as Ireland’s competitor in the race for the Oscar for International Feature Film.

“Shelter,” titled “Foscadh” in Irish, follows the story of John Cunliffe, an overprotected recluse who must learn to navigate the world at the age of 28 after his parents die. Friendless and naive, Cunliffe, played by Dónall Ó Héalai (“Arracht”), must also learn to deal with trust and vengeance as he finds his mountain land inheritance is impeding a profitable wind-farm development.

Breathnach wrote and directed the feature, which is based on Donal Ryan’s novel “The Thing About December.” Fionnuala Flaherty (“An Klondike”) and Cillian O’Gairbhí (“Blood”) also star.

“Shelter” was produced by Paddy Hayes (“Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody”) via his company Magamedia. The Yellow Affair is handling international sales.

The film won the Best First Film award at the Galway Film Fleadh. — K.J. Yossman

GERMANY

Maria Schrader’s screwball romantic comedy “I’m Your Man” (“Ich Bin Dein Mensch”) was selected as Germany’s Oscar contender.

The film’s premise is that of a scientist who, in order to obtain research funds, agrees to live for three weeks with a humanoid robot specifically engineered for her happiness.

The film had its world premiere earlier this year at the Berlinale, where star Maren Eggert won the Silver Bear for her performance.

Its German theatrical release in July, handled by Majestic Filmverleih, saw it achieve more than 100,000 ticket sales. The film had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. It has been licensed to more than 60 countries. Its U.S. release through Bleecker Street kicks off on Friday.

At the German Film Prizes, “I’m Your Man” was nominated in five categories: film, directing, screenplay (Schrader and Jan Schomburg), actress (Eggert) and actor (Dan Stevens). — Patrick Frater

Submissions for the 2021-22 Oscars

Cambodia: “White Building” dir. Kavich Neang

Ecuador: “Submersible” dir. Alfredo Leon Leon

Germany: “I’m Your Man” dir. Maria Schrader

Ireland: “Shelter” dir. Seán Breathnach

Kosovo: “Hive” dir. Blerta Basholli

Kyrgyzstan: “Shambala,” dir. Artykpai Suyundukov

Morocco: “Casablanca Beats” dir. Nabil Ayouch

Poland: “Leave No Traces” dir. Jan P. Matuszynski

Serbia: “Oasis” dir. Ivan Ikic

Switzerland: “Olga” dir. Elie Grappe

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