“Jallikattu”, India’s official entry in the Best International Feature category at the 93rd Academy Awards, is out of the Oscars race but the country is still in the fray with short film “Bittu” advancing to the next round in Best Live Action Short Film segment. “Jallikattu”, a Malayalam-language movie directed by filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery, is not part of the shortlist of 15 features that will be vying for a spot in the final five, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced on Wednesday.
Thomas Vinterberg’s”Another Round”, starring Mads Mikkelson, has made it to shortlist that also include Andrei Konchalovsky’s “Dear Comrades!” (Russia), Agnieszka Holland’s”Charlatan” (Czech Republic) and two documentaries — “The Mole Agent”from Chile and “Collective”from Romania. The other contenders are “Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina), “Two of Us” (France), “La Llorona” (Guatemala), “Better Days” (Hong Kong), “Sun Children” (Iran), “Night of the Kings” (Ivory Coast), “I’m No Longer Here” (Mexico), “Hope” (Norway), “A Sun” (Taiwan) and “The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia).
Films from 93 countries were eligible in the category. In the nominations round, Academy members from all branches are invited to opt-in to participate and must view all 15 shortlisted films in order to cast a ballot.
“Jallikattu” is based on the short story Maoist by Hareesh and stars Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran. The film had its premiere on September 6, 2019 at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and received widespread critical acclaim.
Karishma Dev Dube-directed “Bittu” has made it to the Best Live Action Short Film shortlist for the Oscars. The movie is part of 10 film shortlist that also include “Da Yie”, “Feeling Through”, “The Human Voice”, “The Kicksled Choir”, “The Letter Room”, “The Present”, “Two Distant Strangers”, “The Van” and “White Eye”.
Based on a true story, the movie is a short film about a close friendship between two girls, eclipsed by an accident at their school. “Bittu” is presented by Indian Women Rising (IWR), a cinema collective that was recently formed by filmmakers Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, and Ruchikaa Kapoor.
Monga, whose 2018 production “Period. End of Sentence” had won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2019, celebrated the moment on social media. “It’s 4.30 am in India… am tossing & turning, stress eating and texting my IWR girls thru the night and here we are !! ‘Bittu’ is now shortlisted for the 93rd Academy Awards,” the producer said in a post on Instagram.
“So so grateful for ‘Bittu’ and our incredible team… Say a little prayer and wish us luck for the next round of nominations,” she added. The final nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced on March 15.
With “Jallikattu” exiting the foreign film race, India has once again drawn a blank in the category. The last Indian film that made it to the final five in the Best International Feature category was Ashutosh Gowariker’s “Lagaan” in 2001 “Mother India” (1958) and “Salaam Bombay” (1989) are the other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five.
In 2019, Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy”, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, was India’s entry to the Oscars. The 93rd Academy Awards, which were postponed from their usual February date due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held on April 25. (PTI)