Estonia will submit “Tangerines” (87 min) as its nominee for Best Foreign Language Film for the 87th Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – AMPAS.
The selection was made from Estonian full-length feature films that were first screened between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014 and where screening continued for at least the following seven days in paid commercial cinemas. This year the Estonian Film Institute’s selection committee included Edith Sepp, Tiina Lokk, Anneli Ahven, Tanel Toom and Jaan Ruus. The voting took place in two rounds and the committee reached a consensus in the second round of voting.
The film “Tangerines”, which takes place in 1992 in Georgia (Caucasus) during the unfolding civil war between Georgians and Abkhazians, is the third feature-length film by Georgian director Zaza Urushadze (48). The descendants of Estonians who settled in Abkhaz a century ago have now left the war zone as a result of the Abkhazian war of independence. Only two older farmers have stayed put, a quiet carpenter Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) and an earthy simpleton Markus (Elmo Nüganen). As a result of an unexpected clash with the Georgian soldiers four people die and two wounded men are left on the battlefield: a muslim (Giorgi Nakashidze), or a Chechen mercenary, who fought for the Abkhazians and a Christian (Mikheil Meskhi) or Georgian soldier. They both hate each other equally. The master of the house Ivo lays them down in beds and nurses them back to health. A bloodless battle continues inside the house and the film with the biblical message Love Thy Neighbour has a surprising ending. The optimistic point of view that prejudices between enemies can be cleared as soon as the blind hatred is dissolved brings hope to everyone in those parts of the world where national, racial or religious hatred still burns. The protagonist Ivo is able to maintain a humane ethical approach towards everything. He can remain above the largest personal tragedy and reconcile the greatest of blood enemies under his roof: the wounded Georgian and Chechen soldiers. The film paints a general portrait of the kind of Estonian archetype who cannot stand war and who maintains his humanity in chaotic battle conditions and begins to reconcile hostile neighbours.
The Estonian Association of Film Journalists gave “Tangerines” the Film of the Year Award for being a humanist anti-war narrative of Estonians in their everlasting difficulty – being the sufferers of foreign wars. “Tangerines” has participated in eighteen international film festivals (Warsaw, Tbilisi, Mannheim-Heidelberg, Tallinn Black Nights, Cottbus, Chennai, Kerala, Bari, Seattle, Palm Springs, Göteborg, Jerusalem, Fajr, San Paulo, Glasgow, Belgrad, Vilnius and San Francisco) and received ten prizes including Best Estonian Film and the FICC Jury Special Prize at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Jury Special Prize and Audience Award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival, Best Picture and Best Screenplay prizes from the 32nd Fajr Film Festival in Iran.
The film will also be screened at the Montreal (Canada), Oostende (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland) and Eurasia (Kazakhstan) film festivals, the War on Screen Film Festival (France) and the East by Southeast Film Festival (Denmark).
The Director of Photography is Rein Kotov and the film is produced by Ivo Felt (Allfilm/Estonia) and Zaza Urushadze (Cinema 24/Georgia).
According to the Academy’s rules, Estonia has the creative control of the movie because the majority of funds have come from the Estonian production company. Cinemavault (Canada) is in charge of the international distribution. Seems to be the trend that most films for Oscars nomination nowadays are created as international co-productions in Europe. This year’s Hungarian nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film White God by Kornel Mundruczo is produced by German and Swedish producers and the Turkish nominee Winter Sleep by Nury Bilge Ceylan, which also received the Palme d’Or in Cannes, is a collaboration between Turkey, France and Germany. The first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was presented in 1956 to Federico Fellini’s La Strada. The first Estonian film submitted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was Those Old Love Letters (1992). The deadline for submitting films for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is 1 October. The five nominees selected by the Academy will be announced on 15 January by the selection committee. Then the active and distinguished members of the Academy who have seen all five nominees will cast their vote. The award ceremony will take place on 22 February 2015.