Thursday, December 30, 2010

Release Date Issues: Where the Foreign Films Are

One of the biggest issues in regards to figuring out one's personal lists of favorites/bests of the year is release date issues. If a film was initially released in 2003, but didn't make it to your country (say, the USA) until 2004, where does it go? Ultimately it comes down to a personal choice. The case I brought up is Lars von Trier's Dogville, which didn't arrive in US theaters until 2004 (and was deemed Oscar eligible), despite prior releases in other parts of the world in 03. So where does it go? Personally, I put the film in 2004, but I know many who (if they like it) put it in their list of favorites from 2003, because that was when it first hit theaters period. Whichever side you choose, it's a clean break. Unfortunately, not all films are.

Consider the French film A Prophet. Like Dogville, it hit theaters in other countries before landing in the US in March of 2010. But here's where things get murky: the film was nominated for an Oscar for 2009...and yet a handful of critics groups have given it awards or recognized it in the past few weeks as a 2010 film. So where the hell does it go? Obviously, you're free to decide for yourself, but the point of this post is to clarify where this blog (from now on) stands on this often confusing and frustrating issue. The basics are as follows:

  • If a film is eligible (ie: makes the Oscar longlist) for any Oscar category (or scores a nomination) for a given year, then that's what year I'm considering the film and any performances/techs in it.
  • If a film is not on an eligibility long list whether due to disqualification or lack of submission, then the film is placed in the year that it first arrives in US theaters, even if it only makes it to New York and LA.
So, to clear up a few highly anticipated releases of mine...
  • Biutiful: 2010
  • Applause: 2010
  • Vincere: 2010
  • Mother: 2010
  • Everyone Else: 2010 (only released theatrically in NYC in the
  • Certified Copy: 2011
  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Cannes Champion): 2011
  • Of Gods and Men: 2011

And now that this is out of my system, I'm going to continue my internal rant about how much I hate delayed/staggered release dates for indie and foreign films. Film is a universal languages, but there are many variations on how to speak it, and I think it's a shame that so many interesting films from the rest of the world have to travel such exhausting paths to make it to our shores.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Agree, it's a personal choice. For instance - I saw Father of my Children this year because that was when it was released in Australia and I'll class it as 2010 - but it's technically from 2009. Also, Black Swan and Tangled won't be out in Australia until January, but I'll still be classing them as 2010 films. Soooo....I have no kind of system haha