Oscar 2017 Predictions: Lebanon selects TIFF film 'Very Big Shot'
Lebanon has selected "Very Big Shot" to represent the country at the Academy Awards. The feature, which was directed by Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in the Discovery Section. It later went on to play at the San Francisco, London and Gotebourg Film Festivals among others.
The movie tells the story of a small-time Lebanese drug-dealer who slyly manipulates public opinion with the help of an underrated filmmaker when he attempts to smuggle drugs across the borders. After a successful festival run the film was released on the internet in the U.S making it readily available to the public.
It's distribution format can prove highly advantageous especially since the Academy will have enough time to see the film and it will also be one of the first to be screened. Two years ago "Ida" was released in the summer and went on to sweep the awards race. However, without a traditional distribution platform it will be interesting to see how the Academy reacts and if the film will be considered for more than just foreign language film.
Lebanon has never been nominated for the Oscars even though it has submitted 13 films since 1978. Last year the country submitted the festival hit "Void" but it never picked up buzz.
"Very Big Shot" joins a huge list of Foreign Language contenders including "Toni Erdmann," "Julieta," "House of Others," "Sieranevada," "The Ardennes," "Chevalier" and "Mother." Other films that will also be strong competitors include "El Clasico," "From Afar" and "Neruda."
The Academy is known for choosing some of the most critically acclaimed films out of the festival circuit and usually nominate films from Venice, Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca and Locarno Film Festivals. Most films that win the category have distribution deals lined up out festivals and have buzz from the beginning of awards season. Recently "Son of Saul," "Ida," "The Great Beauty," and "The Secret in Their Eyes" won the Best Foreign language category.
The Foreign Language Film deadline to submit is Oct. 3. On Jan. 17 the Academy will announce the nine finalists from among the eligible films and on Jan. 24 nominations will be announced. The winner will be announced at the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 26.