With two Hindi films Rang De Basanti and Water set to be screened in the Foreign Languages Film Category at the Oscars, Indian entries, with some near misses in the past, may finally be getting into the jury's radar.
If Rang De Basanti, a film about the awakening of youth, is India's official entry for the Oscars; Water, a Hindi-language film on the plight of Indian widows in the 1930s and directed by Canada-based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, is Canada's official entry.
While Rang De Basanti's entry was a-given, it was Water that surprised the film fraternity. Very few know that the organisers of Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences announced two vital changes for the 2006 foreign-language film category in July. One of them is lifting the language constraints.
|John Abraham and Lisa Ray in a still from Water.|
Last year, Italian submission
was considered ineligible because it featured only Middle Eastern languages and the Academy members were hugely disappointed. Hence they modified the selection criterion so that good films don't fall prey to the rules.
This year, entries in the foreign languages category are not required to be in the official language of the country submitting the film. Any language or combination of languages is acceptable, as long as the principle language is not English.
"That may sound like a profound change," said Academy executive director Bruce Davis in a press statement.
"But it actually addresses a situation that has cropped up only once before in our history, and may not arise again this century. Last year, the Italians wanted to submit a picture that was clearly made by Italian artists, and which qualified for the category in every other way except one: there was no Italian language in it. All the dialogues were in Middle Eastern languages.
"The rules clearly prohibited that, but the situation didn't seem fair to us," he added. And making use of the changes, the selection committee in Canada voted for Mehta's film. The Academy also announced a modification to the judging process for foreign language films.
The Los Angeles-based screening committee that has traditionally viewed foreign language submissions will continue to choose a shortlist of films from nine countries.
The list will then be examined by a second committee - comprising 10 randomly selected members of the original committee, 10 Los Angeles-based members not on the original committee and 10 New York-based members.