Oscars: 'Ne Zha' to compete for Best Int'l Feature Film

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, October 8, 2019
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A poster of "Ne Zha" [Image courtesy of Coloroom Picture]

The Chinese animated blockbuster "Ne Zha" will compete against 92 other countries and regions for the Academy Award for best international feature film, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday. The category was formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film.

Produced by Enlight Coloroom Picture and written and directed by first time director Yang Yu, also known as Jiao Zi, "Ne Zha" has become the highest-grossing animated feature in China's film history and the second highest-grossing Chinese film ever. It has grossed 4.97 billion yuan ($695 million) in China and US$3.7 million in the United States. 

The film is loosely based on the tale of Ne Zha, a popular Chinese mythological figure that was portrayed in Taoist legends, such as "The Investiture of the Gods" and "Journey to The West." The debut director made a daring overhaul of Ne Zha's appearance and portrays him as a mischievous boy rather than a heroic youngster as shown in previous cinematic works. 

The film was well-received by critics and ignited enthusiasm among Chinese moviegoers over the summer, making it a cultural phenomenon. 

However, "Ne Zha" will face many strong contenders in the Oscar race such as South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's Palme d'Or award-winning "Parasite" and Senegal's "Atlantics," directed by Mati Diop, which was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival.

China's Hong Kong and Taiwan regions submitted their own films, with Hong Kong's submission being Herman Yau's "The White Storm 2 - Drug Lords" and Taiwan's being "Dear Ex" by Mag Hsu and Chih-Yen Hsu.

Japan also selected an animated film for submission: Makoto Shinkai's "Weathering with You."

Earlier this year, the Academy's Board of Governors voted not only to rename the Foreign Language Film category, but to expand the shortlist from nine films to ten. The 2020 International Feature Film nominees will come from 93 countries and regions, up from last year's 87 submissions, and breaking the record of 92 in 2017. 

A contender for the Best International Feature must be a feature-length motion picture longer than 40 minutes and produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Ghana, Nigeria and Uzbekistan are first-time entrants, while China and Senegal submitted their films on the deadline of Oct. 1.

The shortlist of 10 films will be announced on Dec. 16, and the nominations for the 92nd Oscars will be announced on Jan. 13, 2020. The Academy Awards will be handed out on Feb. 9.

China has been submitting films to Oscar since 1979. For example, Zhang Yimou's films have been submitted six times and nominated three times -- two as productions from the Chinese mainland, and one from Hong Kong.

The only Chinese win in this Oscar award category was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" by director Ang Lee in 2001.

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