Once again the record number of countries eager for a shot at Oscar glory has increased. This year, 92 nations submitted movies to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category, among them are 15 features representing Latin America. Last year, the Academy overlooked deserving candidates like Larraín’s Neruda or Venezuela’s From Afar. This time, the competition for the 90th Academy Awards got exponentially tougher with several previous winners and nominees returning, alongside festival favorites who all seek to stand out from the crowd.
From the initial 92 submitted films, nine make it to the shortlist in late December after a small group of Academy members votes on their favorites. Then those nine will be whittled down even more and, on January 23, five films will be announced as nominees. Note that this is one of the toughest categories to receive a nomination in. Even before the nomination process, each country puts together a committee of industry professionals who select just one movie to represent their nation. The national selection committees have made questionable choices in the past, resulting in some Latin American’s best films of the decade being skipped over like Brazil’s Aquarius, Mexico’s Güeros, or Venezuela’s Tamara.
The region’s strongest contender is likely Sebastian Lelio’s Berlin winner A Fantastic Woman starring transgender actress Daniela Vega, which will open theatrically in the US in early 2018. The Dominican Republic premiered a production at Sundance for the first time this year, Woodpeckers by Jose Maria Cabral, and selected it to compete at the Oscars.
Latin America’s strong lineup includes five movies directed or co-directed by women. From master helmer Lucrecia Martel with Zama, to Tatiana Huezo’s Tempestad, for which she became the first woman ever to win the Ariel Award (Mexican Academy Award) for Best Director, and newcomers like Ecuadorian Ana Cristina Barrangán and Panamanian Arianne Benedetti.
Honduras joins the race for the first time with the historical drama Morazán. El Salvador is now the only Latin American country that has never submitted a film for consideration.
Check out the entire list of movies reppin’ for Latin American below.