Oscars: France selects “Saint Omer” for international feature film

France chose Alice Diop’s court drama Saint Omer as its contender for the 2023 Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category.

Diop’s first narrative feature film (her previous films including the Berlin Festival winner Encounters We (2021) were documentaries), Saint Omer is a dramatization of the 2016 real-life trial of Fabienne Kanou, a French-Senegalese mother with a genius-level IQ accused of infanticide.

Saint Omer heads into awards season after an impressive bow at the Venice Film Festival, where it won Diop the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Best Debut trophy. Neon is releasing the film in the US through its Super label.

Saint Omer beat the other four shortlisted candidates chosen by France’s national cinema body, the CNC, for their Oscar potential: One fine morning by Mia Hansen-Loewe, directed by Eric Gravel Full work dayof Alice Winokur Parisian memories and The worstby directors Liz Acocca and Roman Gerrett.

France, which hasn’t won an Oscar for Best International Film since Régi Varnier Indochina in 1993, that year revised its system for selecting films it submits for consideration by the Academy. The new system gives international sales agents and US distributors of select films more say in film selection.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce a short list of 15 international film nominees on December 21. The five nominated films will be announced on January 24. The 95th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on March 12.

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