TIFF-launched foreign language films shooting for Oscars 2019

Watching foreign language films could be an acquired taste for some, not unlike eating sushi. Once you’ve gotten over the seemingly counter-intuitive idea of eating fish raw and allow the soft texture to melt in your mouth, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cold freshness and welcome the brain-stirring sting of the wasabi, as well, appreciate the sweet taste when lightly dipped in soya sauce, balanced by the blandness of the vinegared rice morsel. A delightful exploration.

Film festivals are the best venues for one to have a taste of these international, cinematic delicacies. And as usual, the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this September was a launching pad for films from all over the world, several were subsequently announced as their country’s official entry to the upcoming Oscars Best Foreign Language Film race.


“Shoplifters”, this year’s Palme d’Or winner and Japan’s official entry to the
91st Oscar Best Foreign Language Film race.  Photo courtesy of TIFF

The following is the list of TIFF selections that made it to represent their country at the 91st Oscars. Posted also are their premiere status at TIFF. Some of these I’d seen at the Festival and since reviewed (just click on the links). More reviews are forthcoming. The Oscar nominations will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.


El Angel, Argentina, dir. by Luis Ortega, North American (NA) Premiere

Hidden Man, China, dir. by Jiang Wen, International Premiere

Birds of Passage, Columbia, dir. by Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra, Canadian (CA) Premiere

Sergio and Sergei, Cuba, dir. by Ernesto Daranas, NA Premiere

Winter Flies, Czech Republic, dir. by Olmo Omerzu, International Premiere

Never Look Away, Germany, dir. by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, NA Premiere

Sunset, Hungary, dir. by László Nemes, NA Premiere

The Cakemaker, Israel, dir. by Ofir Raul Graizer

Dogman, Italy, dir. by Matteo Garrone, CA Premiere

Shoplifters, Japan, dir. by Hirokazu Kore-eda, CA Premiere

Capernaum, Lebanon, dir. by Nadine Labaki, NA Premiere

Roma, Mexico, dir. by Alfonso Cuarón, CA Premiere (Review forthcoming)

Cold War, Poland, dir. by Pawel Pawlikowski, (Review forthcoming)

Burning, South Korea, dir. by Lee Chang-dong, NA Premiere

Border, Sweden, dir. by Ali Abbasi, NA Premiere

The Wild Pear Tree, Turkey, dir. by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Review forthcoming)


The 91st Academy Awards ceremony will take place Sunday, February 24, 2019.









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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

26 thoughts on “TIFF-launched foreign language films shooting for Oscars 2019”

  1. I watch foreign films all the time, in preference to films in English which IMO tend to be either violent or narcissistic.
    Because only the best foreign films are subtitled and marketed here in Australia, what we get to see is usually first-class viewing. I belong to an Australian subscription service called QuickFlix, and they have a small but worthwhile collection of foreign films, and I get two of these each month. (People can get more, but two films a month is enough for me). From QuickFlix I’ve seen terrific films from Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt, and from the smaller countries in Europe as well.
    Our local arthouse cinema chain also screens foreign films regularly and hosts so many festivals, I can’t keep up. I haunt that cinema during the French Foreign Film festival, not so much the Spanish or Italian FFF though I like both of those because I can speak a little of those languages too.
    So while I haven’t seen any of those films yet, I know they’ll come my way eventually and if past experience is anything to go, they’ll be worth the wait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa,

      Are you close to Adelaide? The Adelaide Film Festival is just a couple of days away, Oct. 10-21. I just checked their program online, several of the foreign films listed here will be screened at the AFF. I highly recommend: Roma, Shoplifters, Burning, Capernaum (Capharnaum) and Cold War.

      Glad to hear you’re into foreign films and that you’ve lots of opportunities to view them in Australia. It’s one of the best ways to break barriers across cultures and to elicit empathy; even if we can’t ‘identify’ with the characters, we’re linked by our humanity.

      Thanks for stopping by the Pond and throwing in your two pebbles. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re a day’s drive from Adelaide, but my days of rocketing over there in a day are over! But I am quite sure that these films will make their way to Melbourne:)
        BTW I’ve also discovered some great TV series in other languages: Un Village Francais is fabulous, I bought the entire series and have watched it half a dozen times now, partly to improve my French but also because it’s such a terrific series about the Occupation. and also (recommended to me by Guy Savage, I think) two movies about East/West Germany: The Weissensee Saga and Line of Separation and another French one called Resistance.


  2. We used to enjoy looking for different foreign films at our video rentals…before they all closed down *sigh.* You’ve got me wanting to re-watch the few we’ve got on our shelves at least.
    On a side note, the library finally had the film of Middlemarch available, and a friend and I watched all 6+ hours! Thanks again for hosting that reading challenge- without it I most likely wouldn’t have gotten around to the book or movie, and we enjoyed it immensely! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne,

      The pleasure’s all mine. I’ve enjoyed all my read-alongs, Midnight’s Children, Anna K., Bonhoeffer, Proust, and this year’s Middlemarch. Any idea what you’d like to read together maybe some time next year? I’m always on the look out for film adaptations of literary works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, I’ve been meaning to pick up some Dickens for years now, and someone gifted us the Brothers Karamazov, but I haven’t tried it yet, and…ah, there are too many to pick from!


    1. Denise,

      Have you seen any of Kore-eda’s works? I think you’ll like them. Try “Our Little Sister” (2015) first. And don’t miss this year’s Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” if it comes to your area. The Polish-English director Pawel Pawlikowski is also one of my faves. His last film “Ida” won the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film in 2015. It’s superb.


      1. Oh After the Storm was beautiful. Japanese films remind me of French films, they are so like watching real people just going about their lives but the result is so deep.


  3. Some of the foreign films show up on netflix but for the most part, they don’t get here unless a film group hosts a small festival and even then, the selection is limited. I love seeing what you share — it opens the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeanie,

      That’s the fun and benefits of attending IFF in a major city. Many of these foreign films won’t even come to our local theatres, and they likely won’t be Netflix either. I find Kanopy is a good source of classic, artistic indie films, better than Netflix. Kanopy links directly to your major city public library. Do check it out.


  4. Have just seen Cold War, which was impressive. And saw the trailer for Burning. Want to see that. I missed Shoplifters and Roma, but might catch them at an arthouse cinema in Melbourne if I’m lucky.


    1. WG,

      All the ones you mentioned are must-see. For some reasons, however, I couldn’t get emotionally involved in Cold War. I’d wanted so much to like it, as I’m a huge fan of the director’s previous film Ida. Shoplifters is good; I like all of Kore-eda’s films.
      Burning is beautifully shot. I like Lee’s previous work Poetry, and Secret Sunshine.
      But I guess, yes, just guessing, it’s Roma that’s going to be the Oscar winner. Just a hunch.


      1. I haven’t heard of Capernaum – which means it may not have been here yet (or it may not come?) I really liked Cold War – but it’s quite episodic in structure isn’t it so you have to work quite a bit to engage with the characters and what’s happening to them. He doesn’t play us for our emotions, and makes us think about what really is going on, why they are making the decisions they are making. I liked it for that reason I think. The understatedness of it that gives it many possible meanings.


        1. WG,

          By ’emotion’ I mean just ‘feeling connected’. I’d appreciated the visuals, the black and white cinematography. I agree with all you’ve observed. For me, it’s all in the head. It’s been noted that the film is based on director Pawel Pawlikowski’s parents. I’m curious about that.

          Capernaum is from Lebanon director Nadine Labaki as her camera follows a 12 year-old Syrian refugee boy in Beirut. That boy is amazing. And this one, it’s all in the heart. (The embedded links in this post are to my reviews on AAPress)

          Capernaum, Shoplifters, Burning and Roma are among the 9 films shortlisted for the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film award. Next Tues. Jan. 22 we will know which ones will be the five final nominees. Watch for the Oscar nom. announcement then.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. WG,

      You must be very happy! Cold War got 3 Oscar noms: Best Foreign Language Film, Director, Cinematography. It has been so long since I watched it at TIFF last Sept., still waiting for it to come to my city to watch it again.

      Liked by 1 person

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