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The Race to the Oscars is ON!

The Race to the Oscars is ON!

South Korea's success last year at the 2020 academy Awards with Bong Joon-ho's Parasite was unprecedented to say the least, having won four Oscars, including best international feature film, best picture, director and original screenplay in the main categories.

This year there's 13 contenders representing the East Asian territory in the international feature category, and it has many strong contenders, none with Parasites weight no less and this more than likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So, traditionally, the first leg of the Oscars marathon, where Parasite scooped the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival 2019, was cancelled.

The positive side to the pandemic which may help Asian submissions over other continents is the handling of the pandemic, where many countries kept cinemas open and festival screenings running and its known a well-publicised rollout in cinemas can help to raise a film’s visibility.

So, lets look at 5 of the 'stronger' entries, and we'll list the rest below.  

Wet Season (Singapore)

Singapore’s entry is teacher-student relationship drama, directed by Anthony Chen, who also represented Singapore in 2014 with Ilo Ilo

Director: Anthony Chen
Cast: Yann Yann Yeo & Jia Ler Koh
Language: Mandarin w/ English subtitles
Country: Singapore
year 2019

Better Days (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong's Better Days is a drama about school bullying and made headlines as it grossed $237m at the China box office. It swept the 2020 Hong Kong Film Awards, bagging eight prizes including best film and best director. Produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan, who directed Leap, China's entry.

Director: Derek Tsang
Cast: Dongyu Zhou, Jackson Yee and Fang Yin
Language: Cantonese w/ English subtitles
Country: Hong Kong
year 2019

The Man Standing Next (Korea)

Korea not holding back have this 1970s-set political thriller stars Lee Byung-hun, known to international audiences through Hollywood films such as Red 2 and the GI Joe franchise. This was the biggest film of the year domestically with 4.75 million admissions.

Director: Woo Min-ho
Cast: Lee Byung-Hun, Lee Sung-Min, Kwak Do-Won, Lee Hee-Jun, Kim So-Jin 
Language: Korean w/ English subtitles
Country: Korea
year 2020

True Mothers (Japan)

With the longest track record for foreign-language entries, Japan has been winning awards since the 1950s. Japan won in 2009 with Yojiro Takita’s Departures and scored a nomination in 2019 for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters.

This year entry is from director Naomi Kawase, a film, about a couple contacted by the biological mother of their adopted child.

Director: Naomi Kawase
Cast:  Hiromi NagasakuArata IuraAju Makita
Language: Japanese w/ English subtitles
Country: Japan
year 2020

A Sun (Taiwan)

Taiwan’s A Sun, is another film which has had awards success, picking up six prizes at the prestigious Golden Horse Awards, including best film and best director. Chung represented Taiwan in 2014 with Soul,  which didn’t make the cut, but you might remember that short fan made film from 2001,Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won four Oscars.

Director: Chung Mong-hong
Cast:  Chen Yi-wen, Samantha Ko, Wu Chien-ho, Liu Kuan-ting, Hsu Greg-han
Language: Mandarin w/ English subtitles
Country: Taiwan
year 2020

The other contenders

Fathers (Thailand)-  Huy Yaleng / family drama
Leap (China) - Peter Ho-Sun Chan / sports drama
Emptiness (Ecuador) - Paúl Venegas / drama
Impetigore (Indonesia) - Joko Anwar / horror
Roh (Malaysia) -  Emir Ezwan / horror
Mindanao (Philipines) - Brillante Mendoza / political drama
Happy Old Year (Thailand)  - Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit / romance drama
Dreamy Eyes (Vietnam) -  Victore Wu / romance drama


Good luck to them all!

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