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Why Wild Bunch Wouldn’t Budge On ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ Release For Oscar Eligibility

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 7:31am PDT

Yesterday’s announcement that Gilles Bourdos’ period drama Renoir would be France’s entry for the Foreign-Language Oscar race was a bit of a head-scratcher. Once it became clear a few months ago that Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color (aka Adèle: Chapters 1&2) would not be eligible, other possible titles were floated including previous Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi’s The Past. But Renoir was not really on the radar — not the least because it had debuted in a Cannes sidebar in 2012. Academy Foreign Language rules stipulate that a film must be released domestically between October 1st and September 30th and Renoir was a fit because it went out in January this year in France. Blue, however, is not releasing until October 9th, meaning it misses the cut-off. Many have wondered why Wild Bunch, which is distributing Blue in France, would not change the October 9th date to qualify. Company co-founder Vincent Maraval tells me today, “There was never any question for us to modify in any way our release strategy to legitimize the stupidity of the Oscar rules. Should we risk our strategy for France for a Foreign Language Film Oscar which doesn’t add anything to a Palme d’Or?” He contends that the Foreign Language Oscar “no longer means anything for a film that was crowned in Cannes” and says the rules are “unique, specific and make no sense. At the same time, no one cares about this category. We’re aiming for (Blue) in all categories, the only ones that count.”

Related: OSCARS: Cannes Palme d’Or Winner Ineligible For Foreign Language Category

Of Renoir, which Wild Bunch sold internationally, Maraval says it’s “a perfect film for the Academy: classic, esthetic and cultural in the same vein as (1994 Foreign Language Oscar winner) Belle Epoque or (1991 winner) Mediterraneo. It got rave reviews from U.S. critics and it’s the highest-grossing French film in the U.S. this year with $2.2M. Objectively, it’s the most legitimate candidate.” Read More »

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France Selects ‘Renoir’ As Foreign Language Oscar Entry

With Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color ineligible for submission as France’s entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar race, the local committee has turned to a decidedly different type of film. Gilles Bourdos’ Renoir debuted in Cannes in 2012 in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired it at the time and released it in the U.S. in March to about $2.2M in box office. Although the film has been around for a while, it fits within the necessary criteria of a release between October 1st, 2012 and September 30th, 2013. Its French theatrical release was on January 2nd this year. Conversely, Blue‘s is not until October 9th, meaning it will miss the September 30th cutoff. Renoir is set on the Côte d’Azur in 1915 and centers on Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir and the woman who becomes the painter’s model and the filmmaker’s lover. Veteran French actor Michel Bouquet stars with Vincent Rottiers and Christa Theret. Fidélité Films produced the movie that was sold internationally by Wild Bunch — incidentally also the sales company on Blue. French film body the CNC rounds up a committee each year to select the Oscar entry. It’s made up of two permanent judges — Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux and the CNC’s Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens — and … Read More »

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