As usual, this year too, India’s Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film (now renamed Best International Film) has been selected and declared. Every year, every country is allowed to send a film each for the consideration of a nomination. On average, around 90 entries from as many countries are received. Of these, 9 films are shortlisted in the first round, and only 5 enter the final nomination list. This is the 92nd year of the Oscars. From India every year we send a film. We are one of the worlds biggest film production countries, but the astonishing truth is that we have never won an Oscar in the last 91 years. Furthermore, only 3 Indian films—Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)—have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film during these 91 years.
Why is this happening? Are no quality films being produced in India? Or, every year, are we picking and sending the wrong kind of films—those with less chance for a nomination?
Anyhow, let me explain the selection process in India for the Oscar submissions in this category. Perhaps, it might get you some insights. In India, the Oscar entry film selection process is done by the Film Federation of India (FFI), a non-governmental trade body working in the film industry. The government of India has no any role in the selection of India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. This is very strange.
The proceedings for the film selection is like this:
- FFI invites application for the submission of Oscar entry.
- Any released film is eligible to apply.
- The submission fee is a non-refundable amount of Rs. 82,600/-
- For the screening, a UFO DCP is required. Up to last year, the requirement was a very low resolution MPEG film.
Can you actually believe this—all these years, they have been viewing the Oscar entries in a substandard quality print!
So, from this year onwards, if you are an independent filmmaker and you have an open DCP with you—no use. You need to make another UFO DCP only for the purpose of this Oscar selection screening. For this, you need to spend another Rs. 40,000. A question needs to be raised—why are they are not allowing an open DCP for screening? Strange. So, for an independent film, if you wish to submit your films for this Oscar entry competition, you need to spend Rs. 82,600 as entry fees plus around Rs. 40,000 for new DCP. The end result is that most of the independent films from different regional languages have chosen not to submit their films for consideration. Consequently, a lot of good, small films, including many that have been screened at major film festivals and have received international acclaim, were denied a chance.
Film selection jury
There is no eligibility criterion for the selection of this jury. It’s totally strange. FFI, the non-governmental organisation selects a 16-member jury for selecting India’s official entry. Usually, the chairperson and two or three jury members will be reputed film personalities, but the majority of the members are unheard of people with no credibility whatsoever.
Every year only around 30 films apply for this Oscar entry by submitting the entry fees. FFI will constitute a jury as per their convenience and the jury will watch the submitted films and choose one film as India’s Oscar entry as per their sensibility. If you have a film and if you have a lot of money to give as submission fees, then, go ahead. Your film, if selected, will be in the media news as the Oscar content from India. This is the reality happened in India. Nothing more. Nothing less. I am really curious to know the process followed in other countries regarding their selection of the Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film. I am sure that the most weird process award can be claimed by India. We need to correct this process. We need to co-relate the government of India to this process.
Rating: 4 stars | Full review
Rating: 4 stars | Full review
Rating: 3 stars | Full review
India's official Oscar entry in the last two years—Newton (2017) and Village Rockstars (2018)
India's Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film of 2019—Gully Boy, on IMDB