Wonderful news for Irish film with the announcement that Paddy Breathnach’s Viva has made the shortlist of 9 films for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Feature.
Viva will compete with presumptive feature Son of Saul from Hungary, which has been the frontrunner since winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as Jaco Van Dormael’s Belgian comedy The Brand New Testament; Tobias Lindholm’s Danish war film A War; Giulio Ricciarelli’s German drama Labyrinth of Lies; Klaus Haro’s Estonian-set Finnish thriller The Fencer; Ciro Guerra’s Colombian drama Embrace of the Serpent; Naji Abu Nowar’s Jordanian war-story Theeb; and Deniz Gamze Ergüven Turkish-set French drama Mustang.
A common theme among the 9 shortlisted films, who each compete for one of the final 5 spots on Oscar night, is one of cinema crossing borders, with 4 of the 9 being filmed in languages or countries other than their origins. Viva is one of these, a Spanish language drama that was primarily filmed in Cuba, with some Irish shooting.
The film is the story of Jesus, a young man growing up in Havana, who works as a hair and make-up artist for drag acts. His secret desire is to perform on stage, but he must choose between pursuing his dream and reconnecting with his father, who is newly released from prison.
The film, which is written by Irish actor and screenwriter Mark O’Halloran (Adam & Paul), stars Cuban actors Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García and Héctor Medina. Cathal Watters (One Million Dubliners) is Director of Photography on the film, while Production Designer Paki Smith reunites with Breathnach, having previously worked together on Man About Dog. Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole produce for Treasure Entertainment, with funding from the Irish Film Board, Windmill Lane Pictures, RTÉ, and Treasure Entertainment. Nelson Navarro Navarro from Island Films in Cuba co-produced, with legendary actor Benecio Del Toro as acting as executive producer.
[quote title=”Rob Walpole – Producer”]This project was a real labour of love. It seemed like a crazy proposition: a crew of Irish people going to Cuba to tell this story.[/quote]
[quote title=”Rebecca O’Flanagan – Producer”]We had full confidence in Viva from the beginning and it is so thrilling to have that belief acknowledged.[/quote]
[quote title=”Paddy Breathnach – Director”]I’m thrilled to have made the list. Making Viva was a great and, at times, crazy adventure. I’m so happy that everyone’s efforts are getting recognition.[/quote]
[quote title=”James Hickey – Irish Film Board, Chief Executive“]It is wonderful to see Viva making the shortlist for the Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards®. To get this far in the selection process is a huge achievement in itself. Congratulations to Paddy, Mark, Treasure Entertainment and all of the talent involved and we wish them the best of luck in the weeks and months to come.[/quote]
The complete shortlist is as follows:
Belgium – The Brand New Testament – Jaco Van Dormael
Colombia – Embrace of the Serpent – Ciro Guerra
Denmark – A War – Tobias Lindholm
Finland – The Fencer – Klaus Haro
France – Mustang – Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Germany – Labyrinth of Lies – Giulio Ricciarelli
Hungary – Son of Saul – Laszlo Nemes
Ireland – Viva – Paddy Breathnach
Jordan – Theeb -Naji Abu Nowar