A Slovak, Austrian and Czech co-production, directed by Martin Šulík and starring acclaimed Czech New Wave director Jiří Menzel in the lead-role, The Interpreter centers around an 80-year-old translator who stumbles on a book written by the former SS officer responsible for the execution of his own parents during the war. The movie premiered at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and was released in Slovak theatres last March. After Cigán (Gypsy) in 2012, The Interpreter is Martin Šulík’s second movie to be chosen as Slovakia’s entry for the Oscars’ Foreign-Language category. The Slovak director is most famous for his 1995 movie Záhrada (Garden), winner of Czech Lion Awards in five different categories. This is Slovakia’s 22nd foreign-language film submission since the country’s separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. None of the previous ones have ever been nominated.
Slovakia is, for now, the only Central European country to have selected its movie for the prestigious Oscars category.
Possible contenders for Poland include Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War (Best Director at Cannes) or Małgorzata Szumowska’s Mug (Twarz), Grand Prize of the Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival. Up until today, nine Polish movies have been nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film, from Polanski’s Knife in the Water (1963) to Pawlikowski’s win with Ida in 2014.
László Nemes’ Sunset has been mentioned as a possible contender for Hungary. Two Hungarian movies have already received the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film: István Szabó’s Mephisto in 1981 and László Nemes’ Son of Soul in 2015.
Last but not least: the Czech Republic. The country has submitted a movie every year since 1993. This year’s possible bid might be Winter Flies by Slovenian-born, FAMU-educated director Olmo Omerzu, Best Director at Karlovy Vary’s International Film Festival. The Czech Republic has won the Foreign-Language Film award once before (Jan Svěrák’s Kolya in 1996), and was also nominated in 2000 (Divided We Fall, or Musíme si pomáhat in Czech) and 2003 (Želary).
Before the country’s 1993 split, two Czechoslovak movies also won the Oscar during the country’s golden age in the 60’s: The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos (1966) and Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains (1968).
The uncontested grand winners of the Oscars for Best Foreign-Language Film are Italy (12 winning films, 31 nominations) and France (9 wins, 39 nominations).