‘Argentina, 1985’ climbs into the shortlist for an Oscar nomination

by Agustin Mango
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Argentina, 1985, Santiago Mitre’s film about the prosecution team behind Argentina’s landmark Trial of the Juntas, has gotten into the Academy Awards’ short-list of 15 films eligible for a nomination in the International Feature Film category. The selection was announced on Tuesday, together with other shortlists for nominations in different categories, including Visual Effects, Music (Original Song), Sound and Documentary Feature Film.  

An Amazon Studios-backed co-production starring Ricardo Darin and Peter Lanzani as real-life prosecutors Julio Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, Argentina, 1985 focuses on the efforts of Strassera’s young team of legal aids to try the leaders of the military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983 for massive kidnapping, torture and homicide. The trial was the first time in history that a civilian court brought the leaders of a military dictatorship to justice. 

The announced shortlist includes Cannes-entries Decision to Leave (South Korea), Holy Spider (Denmark), EO (Poland), Close (Belgium), Return to Seoul (Cambodia) and Corsage (Austria), as well as some of this year’s high profile international titles, like Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Mexico’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.

“Clichés aside, being in the shortlist is genuinely a triumph by itself, because these are 15 incredible films, by insanely talented filmmakers,” said producer Axel Kuschevatzky to the Buenos Aires Herald. “It is overwhelming to know that Santiago Mitre shares a list with Skolimowski, Iñárritu or Lukas Dhont. After four years, it’s impressive to see you there,” he added.

Kuschevatzky was also a producer in Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales, Argentina’s last entry into that category’s shortlist at the 87th Oscars in 2015, where it was finally nominated but lost to Poland’s entry Ida.

Produced by La Union de los Ríos, Infinity Hill, and Kenya Films, Argentina, 1985 premiered in August at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI award from the international federation of film reporters. It also collected the Audience Award at the San Sebastian film festival later this year, and topped the box office in Argentina with a controversial limited theatrical release after all major multiplexes refused to screen the film in opposition to Amazon’s “theatrical window” of two weeks before the film became available for online streaming worldwide.  

Nevertheless, prior achievements do not necessarily pave the way for the nomination. Academy members from all branches are invited to opt in to participate in the preliminary round of voting, and must meet a minimum viewing requirement to be eligible to vote in the category. “From now on, it’s not so much about whether the films had good reviews or won festivals, it has to do with people watching the films, because the steps that follow imply that they have to watch the films in order to be able to vote,” says Kuschevatzky. “There is a very equalizing element in this system, which forces us all to basically roll out promotion, press, and invest in advertising so people actually know the film exists. None of the films have it easy and this category is incredibly competitive,” he adds.

According to the producer, one of the things Argentina, 1985 has going for it is the way the film connects with audiences. “In my experience, this is an important element for Academy members. And I believe that one thing that favors the film is that degree of emotional connection. I’m not saying the other ones don’t have that, but this one clearly does,” he adds.   

Nominations for the 95th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. The 95th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.

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