MONTREAL – “Drunken Birds”, about a loving member of a Mexican drug cartel who becomes a seasonal migrant worker in rural Quebec, will represent Canada in the Oscar race for best international feature film .
A pan-Canadian committee of about 20 voting delegates chose the project – which includes dialogue in French, Spanish, English and Mandarin – out of a total of 10 Oscar-nominated films, Telefilm Canada announced on Monday.
Montrealer Ivan Grbovic directed and co-wrote the drama, which bears the French title “Les oiseaux ivres” and was filmed in the farmlands of Quebec and outside of Mexico City.
Jorge Antonio Guerrero and Yoshira Escarrega are the stars.
Grbovic and co-writer / cinematographer Sara Mishara said they were thrilled to nominate Canada for the Oscars, expecting the honor to attract more attention to a project they see as a “cinematographic experience” for the big screen, with a subject that “can reach a wider audience outside of Quebec.
“This ultimately speaks to the relationship between the exploited and the exploited and raises questions about, I would say, how the world economy works today and how we profit or not profit or how we all coexist within. of that, ”Mishara said in a video press conference after Telefilm’s announcement.
“It’s not a documentary but when I discovered this theme, it was from the perspective of someone who had no idea that there were foreign workers working in the fields in Quebec, ”added Grbovic.
Mishara said the cast includes Mexican immigrants to Montreal and the script was influenced by “the people and places that we found, which was also a very interesting process.
“So in that sense, while the film doesn’t approach things in a documentary way, the reality certainly helped shape and inform a lot of the decisions and things that we shot.”
The Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences must decide which films will pass the next ballot in the category, with a shortlist of 10 films to be unveiled on December 21.
The films that make the final cut will be announced along with the remaining Oscar nominations on February 8.
“Drunken Birds” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month and will be released in select cities on October 15th.
This is Grbovic’s second feature film after “Romeo Eleven” of 2011, which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary Festival and the Discovery Prize at the Namur Festival.
Guerrero plays Willy, who falls in love with his boss’s wife, played by Escarrega. After the two go into hiding separately, Willy goes to Quebec to find her. He becomes a seasonal migrant worker and finds that his host family’s domestic troubles reflect his own experience within the cartel.
The team behind “Drunken Birds” is esteemed: micro-scope producers Luc Dery and Kim McCraw have worked on illustrious projects including Oscar nominated “Monsieur Lazhar” and “Incendies”, while executive producer CV Nicolas Celis includes 10 Oscar nominated “Roma”.
But Dery said that “it’s a very difficult year” for selling films internationally, noting that “things are going slower than usual” during the pandemic and there was less more distributors than usual at TIFF.
“There are no US distributors attached to the film at the moment and this is one of the first things that we will take care of and hopefully can translate this (announcement) into more interest today.” , did he declare.
Telefilm claims that eight Canadian films received nominations in the international feature film category, previously called best foreign language film. Only one of them, Denys Arcand’s 2003 feature film, “Les invasions barbares”, won the category.
Last year’s Canadian selection was originally Deepa Mehta’s “Funny Boy”, but she was later disqualified from the competition because the amount of non-English dialogue in the story did not meet the criteria. ‘eligibility.
Telefilm Canada then submitted Jean-Philippe Duval’s French-language drama “14 jours 12 nuit” instead, but ultimately did not get a nomination.
The best international feature film is awarded to a film produced outside the United States with predominantly non-English dialogue.
The 2022 Oscars are scheduled to air live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 27.
– This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 4, 2021.