AFI FEST 2023: Oscar Submissions for Best International Feature – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2023: Oscar Submissions for Best International Feature

Join us at at AFI FEST 2023 and experience the top films from around the world – including these 20 films that have be selected by their home countries as the Best International Feature Film submission for the upcoming Academy Awards®! Learn more about the films below and click on the links to buy tickets. Any sold-out screenings will have a RUSH Line on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to seating availability.

AFI FEST 2023 takes place October 25-October 29 in Los Angeles, CA. To learn more the full festival lineup, browse the program by section in our AFI FEST Film Guide.


Turkey’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Directed by celebrated Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (THE WILD PEAR TREE, AFI FEST 2018). To art teacher Samet (Deniz Celiloglu), the landscape is relentless, characterized by a harsh cold that breaks to a dry heat. Now in his fourth and final year of mandatory placement, he holds a contempt for the region which extends readily to all its inhabitants except his favorite student, eighth grader Sevim. When she accuses him of inappropriate behavior, he is liable to turn even on her. A contemplative, quiet epic with beautiful landscape cinematography. Screening October 29, 5:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


U.S. Premiere

Mongolia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

A coming-of-age romance from award-winning Mongolian short filmmaker Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, CITY OF WIND follows Ze, a studious 17-year-old village shaman, who is diverted from the straight and narrow when he meets a city girl, wide-eyed rebel Maralaa. Screening October 29, 1:45 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Romania’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with actor Ilinca Manolache.

Radu Jude’s latest feature is an outlandish, satirical critique of Romanian society following a hectic day in the life of Angela, an overworked and underpaid production assistant. Jude critiques Romania’s exploitation of labor rights and consumerism and also takes jabs at the film industry – the comical red tape of video production and being on set. Featuring the charming and singular Ilinca Manolache (who brilliantly channels an alpha male influencer), the alluring Nina Hoss (TÁR) as an aloof, foreign businesswoman and an appearance from infamous German filmmaker Uwe Boll as himself. Screening October 27, 8:15 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Finland’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

After a six-year hiatus, Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki (THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE, AFI FEST 2017) returns with this delightfully deadpan tragicomedy once again examining class, love and loneliness in modern-day Helsinki. This poignant, “previously thought to be lost” fourth film is an extension of Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy and earned the Jury Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Screening October 26, 5:45 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Tunisia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Kaouther Ben Hania.

In this hybrid docu-fiction from Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania (THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN), Tunisian mother of four, Olfa, recounts and re-enacts scenes from her life with her two younger daughters. Olfa’s two older daughters are mysteriously absent, and throughout the film the truth of their disappearance is gradually unveiled. Winner of the Golden Eye Award for Best Documentary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Screening October 28, 6:00 p.m.– BUY TICKETS


U.S. Premiere

Jordan’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

INSHALLAH A BOY makes evident from its outset that in contemporary Jordan, women are not valued or respected as autonomous beings, let alone as heads of households. When Nawal’s husband suddenly dies, she begins an insufferable battle against her family of in-laws who have no problem leaving her and her young daughter destitute. Nawal’s only saving grace in order to keep her home and ward off the escalating harassment from her pesky brother-in-law is to give birth to a son who can legally receive her inheritance. The first feature from Jordan to ever screen at the Cannes Film Festival. Screening October 25, 8:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


North American Premiere

Italy’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Matteo Garrone and actors Seydou Sarr and Moustapha Fall.

With IO CAPITANO, Matteo Garrone finds a story of bravery and heroism in the face of harrowing danger that’s equal to any classical epic or enchanting fairy tale. Musician-turned-actor Seydou Sarr gives an impressive performance as Seydou, a Senegalese teenager who lives in an over-crowded house with his mother and younger sisters. Along with his cousin Moussa (Moustapha Fall), Seydou has been working odd jobs and saving money, preparing for a move to Italy, with dreams of pursuing a music career. Screening October 28, 3:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Poland’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman.

Made up of over 40,000 oil paintings, this awe-inspiring adaptation of Władysław Reymont’s Nobel Prize winning novel is the latest animated film from Oscar®-nominated directing duo DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman (LOVING VINCENT). In 19th century Poland, the rural village of Lipce sustains itself on its farmland. Jagna is its beguiling young beauty caught in a lust-filled affair with the married farmhand Antek (Robert Gulacyzk). But when she’s forced to marry his wealthy landowner father, it sets off a chain of events that will rip the town apart. Screening October 25, 7:45 p.m. and October 26, 12:45 p.m.– BUY TICKETS


Japan’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Kōji Yakusho won the Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes film festival for his portrayal of Hirayama, a public toilet cleaner in Tokyo who performs his job like a dedicated master craftsman, in Wim Wenders’ sweetly meditative drama PERFECT DAYS. Rising early each day, Hirayama executes his duties with exquisite professionalism and pride in a job well done, despite the less committed effort of his colleagues. Best known for his many collaborations with Kiyoshi Kurosawa, from 1997’s CURE to 2008’s TOKYO SONATA, as well as Juzo Itami’s TAMPOPO, the beloved ballroom dancing romance SHALL WE DANCE? and Shohei Imamura’s Palme d’Or-winning THE EEL, the actor here adds another masterfully played role to his stellar body of work. Screening October 28, 12:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Brazil’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Kleber Mondonça Filho

Acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho (BACURAU, AFI FEST 2019) turns his camera inward, crafting an infectious personal essay exploring the spaces and cinemas that have long lingered in his memory. Now living in his mother’s beloved apartment in Recife, Mendonça Filho is constantly reminded of the home as it once was, the birthplace of the gonzo films of his teenage years and the set of his breakout debut, NEIGHBOURING SOUNDS. Weaving together home movies, contemporary footage and scenes from his films, Kleber Mendonça Filho composes a nostalgic love letter to his hometown of Recife and the lasting legacy of cinema. Screening October 26, 6:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Denmark’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Nikolaj Arcel and actor Mads Mikkelsen.

Denmark, 18th century. A retired army captain with humble origins, Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen), makes a deal with the King: successfully settle the Jutland’s land and ascend to nobility. Arriving with nothing but a shovel and sheer willpower, Kahlen refuses to yield to the harsh landscape. With the help of a runaway couple, a priest and a precocious orphan, he makes progress, but his unhinged noble neighbor Frederik de Schinkel will stop at nothing to prevent his success. Mikkelsen, reuniting with A ROYAL AFFAIR director Nikolaj Arcel, delivers a star turn in this rollicking period Danish Western filled with romance, intrigue and revenge. Screening October 28, 2:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Chile’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

In Felipe Gálvez’s visually striking debut, tailor-made for the big screen, three travelers trek through 1900s Patagonia on a roughly veiled colonizing expedition at the behest of a Spanish businessman. As unexpected and intense brutality ensues on their journey, Segundo, played by the mesmerizing and stoic Camilo Arancibia, resists committing violence but is forced to cooperate. With surprising moments of humor sprinkled in between shocking cruelty, Gálvez pokes fun at male egotism while asserting that for Indigenous people to be accepted in their own country, they must conform, obey, submit and assimilate. Based on suppressed historical events, THE SETTLERS is the first Chilean production to win Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize. Screening October 29, 8:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Australia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Noora Nilasari.

Noora Niasari’s poignant debut feature, executive produced by Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, follows the courageous titular character, Shayda (brought to life by the captivating Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Cannes’ Best Actress winner in last year’s HOLY SPIDER), as she fights for autonomy from her abusive husband. As Shayda explores a life separate from his controlling clasp, she discovers a newfound self-reliance, as well as a potential romantic spark. Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, SHAYDA shines a light on female solidarity and the superhuman resourcefulness of motherhood.  Screening October 28, 2:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Lithuania’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

In this gorgeously realized, sensual second feature from Lithuanian filmmaker Marija Kavtaradzė (SUMMER SURVIVORS, 2018), Elena and Dovyda’s unique relationship unfolds and evolves. Dance instructor Elena is a sex positive serial dater when she meets Dovyda, a soft-spoken but expressive sign language interpreter. The two gradually form a meaningful and intense bond that is threatened when Dovyda reveals to Elena that he is asexual. A complex, candid and rare portrait of diverse sexuality, intimacy and human connection, SLOW won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Screening October 26, 3:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Estonia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Anna Hints and producer Marianne Ostrat.

Tucked away in a lush forest in southern Estonia, a group of women gather seasonally in a communal smoke sauna. A traditional practice of the Võro community, recognized on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, they bare their all – mind and body – shedding grit and grime in a ritualistic bath while sharing their innermost secrets. Recipient of the Directing Award in the World Cinema Documentary category at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Anna Hints’ immersive debut offers us a look through the steam, sweat and smoke into the palpable, healing powers of solidarity and sisterhood. Screening October 26, 6:15 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Spain’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director J.A. Bayona.

Returning to Spanish language cinema for the first time since his acclaimed debut THE ORPHANAGE, J.A. Bayona brings breathless thrills and emotional gravitas to the tragic, true story of Uruguayan Flight 571. A chartered flight filled with members of the Old Christian Club Rugby team en route to a match in Santiago, Chile, crashes in the cold depths of the Andes. While many perish in the crash, miraculously 29 people survive. A ferocious survival epic grappling with faith, SOCIETY OF THE SNOW showcases indelible performances from its young cast and an effective score by Michael Giacchino. Screening October 26, 6:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


France’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Trần Anh Hùng (THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA) won the Best Director award in Cannes for this rapturous ode to French gastronomy. A stately château in France’s Loire Valley, 1885: chef Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and her assistants begin to prepare their latest multicourse masterpiece, from a menu conceived by her employer, Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), a learned gourmand who in partnership with Eugénie has pursued culinary excellence over the past 20 years, becoming a famed restaurateur and gastronomic authority. In addition to Eugénie and Dodin’s shared love of cooking and harmonious professional collaboration, the two are also occasionally lovers. When Eugénie falls ill, Dodin does something he has never done before: prepare a meal especially for her. Screening October 28, 5:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Germany’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Ilker Çatak

Idealistic young teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch) relishes her work, teaching both math and physical education to her class of seventh graders. Unfortunately, disciplinary issues are also part of the job, and a recent spate of thefts has both teachers and students on edge. When Ms. Nowak attempts to take matters into her own hands, she instead unleashes calamitous, unexpected results with far-reaching consequences. İlker Çatak’s sly allegory masterfully evokes the slightly strange world of a school – seemingly a world unto itself, yet entirely an extension of the society that made it. Screening October 27, 8:00 p.m.– BUY TICKETS


Malaysia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

The first Malaysian film to win the Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize, Amanda Nell Eu’s debut feature reimagines a classic tale with an endearing DIY spirit and irreverent playfulness. Precocious and quick-witted 12-year-old Zaffan spends her days rebelling against the strict Islamic religious school and swimming in the lake with her best friends. That is until she gets her first period before anyone else in her class. Soon, other parts of her body begin to transform in terrifyingly grotesque ways. Ostracized by her peers and the village community, with a rumored creature lurking in the forest, Zaffan must decide to submit to society’s pressure to conform, or embrace her monstrous self, warts and all. Screening October 26, 9:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS


Mexico’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Filtered through the perspective of an observant seven-year-old protagonist Sol, TÓTEM follows an extended family busily preparing for the birthday party of its young patriarch and Sol’s father. Sol witnesses the disarray of adults and cousins shuffling about and busying themselves, seemingly concealing the unspoken absence of her father, who is frailly tucked away in his bedroom. Framed by intimate handheld camerawork and warm hues, writer/director Lila Avilés (THE CHAMBERMAID) sidesteps indulgent sentimentality, weaving a family tapestry marked not by grief and heartbreak, but by love and tenderness. Screening October 26, 3:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

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