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 S. Hareesh and stars Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran. The film had its premiere on 6 September, at the Toronto International Film Festival and received widespread critical acclaim.
Karishma Dev Dube's Bittu , 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. 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.
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, who had collaborated on the 2018 production Period. End of Sentence, which 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 15 March. 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.
The 93rd Academy Awards, which were postponed from their usual February date due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held on 25 April.