France has recognized the need for change in its Oscar entry selection process, and this year, it has unveiled a revamped selection committee. In a bid to enhance its chances of winning the Best International Film category at the Academy Awards, France has invited a group of esteemed film industry professionals to decide its entry for the prestigious award.
Introducing the Committee Members
The committee comprises Patrick Wachsberger, former Lionsgate film co-chief; Sabine Chemaly and Tanja Meissner, international sales veterans; Charles Gillibert, a notable producer; filmmakers Mounia Meddour and Olivier Assayas, and composer Alexandre Desplat. Each member brings a wealth of awards season experience to the table.
France’s decision to overhaul its selection committee is rooted in its desire to shake up its Oscar fortunes. The country’s last victory in the international film category was in 1993 with Régis Wargnier’s Indochine. However, recent French films have shown promise. Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables, winner of the Cannes Jury Prize in 2019, made it to the final nomination stage in the 2020 awards. Additionally, Alice Diop’s Saint Omer secured a spot on the long list for the 2023 edition.
A Committee of Experts
Patrick Wachsberger previously shared the Coda Best Film Oscar win and has an impressive track record in the industry. Charles Gillibert has participated in the awards season before, with films like Mustang and Annette. Alexandre Desplat, a renowned composer, has received 11 Oscar nominations and won twice. Sabine Chemaly, the former head of film sales at Newen Connect, was responsible for selling France’s 2019 Oscars entry, Memoir Of War.
The committee is nominated by French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak based on suggestions put forth by Dominique Boutonnat, President of the National Cinema Centre (CNC), responsible for overseeing the selection process. Observing the discussions are Boutonnat and Gilles Pélisson, the newly-appointed President of Unifrance.
On September 13, the committee will convene for its first meeting to pre-select three to five films. Subsequently, the producers and sales agents of these films will be invited for an audition on September 21. The committee will then make its final decision, which will be announced to the public. In cases where the pre-selected films already have a U.S. distributor, they will join the discussions via video link.
The deadline for Oscar submissions is October 2 this year; therefore, the committee faces a tight timeframe to make its selection. With the 96th Academy Awards set to take place on March 10, 2024, the pressure is on for France to choose a film that will captivate the international audience and potentially secure a historic victory.
France’s decision to revamp its Oscar entry selection committee demonstrates its commitment to improving its chances at the Academy Awards. By assembling a committee of esteemed film industry professionals, France hopes to select a film that will resonate with both domestic and international audiences. As the committee works against the clock, the world eagerly awaits the announcement of France’s official entry for the Best International Film Oscar category.