Oscar® Submissions From 9 Countries to Screen at HIFF

To date, nine films screening at HIFF 2015 have been selected by their respective countries as this year’s entry into the Oscar® race for Best Foreign Language Film. And the list is growing…

Be among the first American audiences to see these international gems!


11 MINUTES “11 minut” (POLAND)

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski | US Premiere | Poland/Ireland
After a 5-year absence from filmmaking, celebrated Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski (KNIFE IN THE WATER, ESSENTIAL KILLING) makes his glorious return with the gripping 11 MINUTES. Written and directed by Skolimowski, the thriller follows the same 11 minutes as experienced by a diverse group of characters, including a struggling actress, an ambulance driver, a would-be thief, and a hot dog vendor, whose lives are destined to intersect over a single day in Warsaw. Weaving through hotel rooms, private homes, and public spaces, Skolimowski captures the kinetic energy of a major metropolis filled with unique stories. Beautifully photographed and expertly paced, 11 MINUTES will keep you guessing until the very last second. Find tickets.


BABAI (Kosovo)

Director: Visar Morina | North American Premiere | Germany/Kosovo/Macedonia/France
Ten-year-old Nori (Val Maloku) and his father Gezim (Astrit Kabashi) roam the streets of Kosovo selling cigarettes and barely earning a living. Only a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gezim is lured west to Germany, leaving his son behind in search of a new life. Feeling deserted and desperate to claim some sense of stability, Nori embarks on a dangerous journey to Germany in search of his father—his “babai.” His tenacity, resilience, and sheer grit must be enough to guide him. BABAI (Kosovo’s submission for the Oscars®) marks the feature debuts of Maloku and Kosovo-born writer/director Visar Morina, both of whom demonstrate a profound maturity and quiet intensity in their respective crafts. Find tickets.


THE CLUB “El Club” (Chile)

Director: Pablo Larrain | New York Premiere
In a quiet seaside town lies a home of repentance, inhabited by four dishonored priests and a former nun. After the admittance of a new priest creates a fatal stir, bringing unwelcomed visitors, including a victim of child molestation and a church bureaucrat, the home’s still atmosphere trembles. As old demons are brought to light, the priests are forced to bear the weight of their transgressions. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and Chile’s submission for the Oscars®, THE CLUB’s muted colors, stellar ensemble cast, and dramatic score establish a somber mood that chillingly echoes the crimes of its lead characters. Find tickets.

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EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT “El Abrazo de la Serpiente” (Colombia)

Director: Ciro Guerra | East Coast Premiere
Inspired by the real experiences of explorers in the Amazon, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (Colombia’s submission for the Oscars®) centers on the relationship between Karamakate, a shaman of an extinct tribe carrying secrets and traditions, and two scientists in search of a sacred plant, capable of immense healing. Opting for powerful black and white cinematography, director Ciro Guerra tracks their parallel stories over 40 years with trips deep into the jungle. Winner of the top prize at the Cannes Directors Fortnight, the film intimately captures the thirst for knowledge and the ravages of colonialism that have destroyed the harmony and balance at the heart of the indigenous way of life. Find tickets.


THE HIGH SUN “Zvizdan” (Croatia)

Director: Dalibor Matanic | US Premiere | Croatia/Slovenia/Serbia
The inter-ethnic wars that tore Yugoslavia apart loom large in the background of Dalibor Matanić’s latest film THE HIGH SUN, winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and Croatia’s submission for the Oscars®. Although never shown on screen, the tumult of the conflict seeps through and disrupts the lives of three young couples in stories that mirror the turmoil and healing process of a nation at war with itself. The tryptic spans decades: the first story is set in 1991 at the beginning of the war, the second one in 2001 at the end of the war, and the final one a decade later. With superb performances by Tihana Lazovic and Goran Markovic, THE HIGH SUN illuminates the tenacity of love across hatred and ethnic divides. Find tickets.


LABYRINTH OF LIES “Im Labyrinth des Schweigens” (Germany)

Director: Giulio Ricciarelli
Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) is a recently appointed public prosecutor frustrated by the tedious traffic offenses assigned to him. When a local journalist tries to bring the crimes committed at Auschwitz to public attention, Radmann takes on the case against the orders of his supervisor. Fighting against ignorance and willful denial, his investigation uncovers the real horror and lasting wounds in 1958 Germany. Giulio Ricciarelli’s moving and thought-provoking LABYRINTH OF LIES (Germany’s submission for the Oscars®) is an artfully rendered account of the fight to identify, locate, and bring the Nazis responsible to trial. Find tickets.

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RAMS “Hrútar” (Iceland)

Director: Grímur Hákonarson | East Coast Premiere
Brothers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) live side-by-side but have not spoken in forty years. Stubborn and competitive, they only communicate via handwritten notes delivered by their loyal sheepdog Somi. When a deadly virus threatens their prize-winning sheep and livelihood, they are forced to come together to save their unique family breed, and themselves, from extinction. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes, RAMS (Iceland’s submission for the Oscars®) details the hardships of daily farm work in remote Iceland with humanism and humor. Stunningly combining otherworldly landscapes and powerful performances, director Grímur Hákonarson expertly builds this gentle comedy to reveal a deeper and emotionally moving tale. Find tickets.


SON OF SAUL “Saul fia” (Hungary)

Director: László Nemes
Winner of the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival and Hungary’s submission for the Oscars®, SON OF SAUL is the monumental debut feature from Hungarian director László Nemes. Saul Auslander (Géza Röhrig) is a Jewish-Hungarian prisoner in Auschwitz and a member of its Sonderkommando (the body disposal team). With a haunting opening scene that lingers on Saul’s ashen face, his journey through the inferno is transfixing and, ultimately, a poignant danse macabre. When he discovers the body of a boy among the corpses he risks everything to save the corpse from cremation, find a rabbi to recite Kaddish and give him a proper burial. With tightly lensed cinematography, Nemes skillfully recreates the claustrophobic, dehumanizing atmosphere of the camp and its unsettling banality of evil. Find tickets.


THE WAVE “Bølgen” (Norway)

Director: Roar Uthaug | East Coast Premiere
Norway’s submission for the Academy Awards®, THE WAVE is based on a terrifyingly plausible scenario. Nestled among Norway’s stunning fjords, Geiranger is one of the most spectacular tourist destinations on the planet. But above it looms a mountain that geologists know will one day collapse, triggering a massive tsunami. When seismic readings on the mountainside start producing unusual data, no one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak. When the mountain does begins to crumble, every soul in Geiranger has just ten minutes to get to high-ground before the tsunami hits, consuming everything in its path in this pulse-pounding thriller. Find tickets.