Oscars: France Picks ‘Saint Omer’ as International Feature Submission

France has picked Alice Diop’s courtroom drama Saint Omer as its contender for the 2023 Oscar race in the best international feature category.

Diop’s first narrative feature (her previous films, including Berlin Festival Encounters winner We (2021) were documentaries), Saint Omer is a dramatization of the 2016 real-life trial of Fabienne Kanou, a Franco-Senegalese mother with a genius-level IQ accused of committing infanticide.

Saint Omer heads into awards season after an impressive bow at the Venice Film Festival, where it won Diop the Grand Jury prize as well as the trophy for best debut feature. Neon is releasing the film stateside via its Super label.

Saint Omer beat out the other four shortlisted candidates selected by France’s national cinema body, the CNC for their Oscar potential: One Fine Morning by Mia Hansen-Løve, the Éric Gravel-directed Full Time, Alice Winocour’s Paris Memories and The Worst Ones, by directors Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret.

France, which has not won an Oscar for best international film since Régis Wargnier’s Indochine in 1993, this year overhauled its system for selecting which films it sends for Academy consideration. The new system, gives international sales agents and U.S. distributors of shortlisted films more say in what film gets picked.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will announce a 15-film shortlist of international feature film nominees on Dec. 21. The five nominated films will be announced on Jan. 24. The 95th Academy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on March 12.

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