Telefilm Canada announced that Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau is Canada’s entry in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ best foreign film category this year.
The story of an Algerian political refugee in Quebec who takes a job at a local elementary school after a teacher commits suicide, the film picked up the Variety Piazza Grande award, given in recognition of a work’s artistic qualities and commercial viability, as well as the UBS Audience Award at the 64th Locarno International Film Festival in August. At the Toronto International Film Festival, it won the City of Toronto award for best Canadian feature film.
“Philippe Falardeau has enthralled audiences and critics alike with an outstandingly crafted film that deals with touching themes. Being in the Oscar race is a well-deserved honor for Monsieur Lazhar,” said Carolle Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, which chairs the pan-Canadian Oscar selection committee that selected the film from a pool of 34 eligible candidates.
“My film never ceases to amaze me; since Locarno it has taken on a life of its own,” said Falardeau when Telefilm called him with the good news. “It’s a proud moment when your movie is chosen to represent Canada from among all the high-quality productions that were in the running for this honor.”
In total, 65 countries submit their top film for consideration as a possible best foreign language film nominee. Only one film per country is accepted, and the selected film must have been produced outside the United States and be primarily in a language other than English. The Academy then votes to choose a shortlist of five films to be nominated in the category.
In the history of the Oscars, five Canadian films have made the shortlist for the best foreign language film category: Denis Villeneuve‘s Incendies, which was Canada’s Oscar pick last year; Deepa Mehta‘s Water, nominated in 2006; and three films by Denys Arcand – Le Déclin de l’empire américain (The Decline of the American Empire) in 1986, Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal) in 1989, and Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions), which won the Oscar in 2003.