Oscars 2021 shortlist for Best International Feature Film includes entries from Taiwan and Hong Kong

'A Sun' and 'Better Days' join entries from Denmark, Iran, Chile, and more

The Academy Awards have revealed the shortlist for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Oscars. Two picks come from Asia: Taiwan’s A Sun and Hong Kong’s Better Days.

This year’s shortlist for Best International Feature Film (which prior to 2020 was named Best Foreign Language Film) features 15 films, including titles from Denmark, Iran, Chile, and France.

This is a bigger slate than 2020’s shortlist, which featured 10 titles and only one from Asia: South Korea’s Parasite, which won the category as well as Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

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A Sun, a drama dealing with familial strife and relations, was dominant at 2019’s Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. Directed and co-written by Chung Mong-hong, the film first gained international recognition when it premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and clinched a distribution deal with Netflix in January 2020.

However, it was also reported that the film had been under-promoted by the streaming platform. American film critic Peter Debruge, who listed A Sun as one of 2020’s best films for Variety, said that “when asked, the company’s PR team didn’t realize they had even acquired the film,” according to Focus Taiwan. Watch the trailer below.

Better Days, on the other hand, received theatrical distribution in North America and China, earning over US$220 million at the worldwide box office. At the 2020 Hong Kong Film Awards, the Derek Tsang-directed romantic drama won Best Film, among other major categories.

Watch the trailer below.

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Better Days marks Hong Kong’s first entry making an Oscars shortlist since 2013’s The Grandmaster, which ultimately did not land an official nomination. Only two films in Hong Kong’s history have ever been nominated for Oscars: 1992’s Raise the Red Lantern and 1993’s Farewell, My Concubine.

Taiwan, on the other hand, has had two successful nominations – The Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman – and won the category in 2000 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. All three films were directed by Ang Lee. Wei Te-sheng’s Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, made it to the 2011 shortlist, but was not nominated.

Southeast Asian submissions for the Best International Feature Film category for the 2021 Oscars included Indonesian horror director Joko Anwar’s Impetigore; Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen’s Wet Season; Malaysia’s Roh, which was Emir Ezwan’s debut feature; and Philippines filmmaker Brillante Mendoza’s Mindanao.

A total of nine categories had their shortlists revealed ahead of the nominations, which will be announced on March 15. These shortlisted titles will go through the first phase of official voting by the Academy a week prior. The awards ceremony itself will take place in person on April 25. Find the nine shortlists here.

The 2021 Oscars’ full shortlist for the Best International Feature Film category is:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, Quo Vadis, Aida?
  • Chile, The Mole Agent
  • Czech Republic, Charlatan
  • Denmark, Another Round
  • France, Two of Us
  • Guatemala, La Llorona
  • Hong Kong, Better Days
  • Iran, Sun Children
  • Ivory Coast, Night of the Kings
  • Mexico, I’m No Longer Here
  • Norway, Hope
  • Romania, Collective
  • Russia, Dear Comrades!
  • Taiwan, A Sun
  • Tunisia, The Man Who Sold His Skin
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