Director Paul Verhoeven’s Elle has been selected by France for its submission into the best foreign-language film category.
The controversial film stars Isabelle Huppert, a woman caught in a game of cat and mouse, searching for the man who raped her. This is the first french language film for Verhoeven, who is best-known for his run of popular films through the late 80’s and 90’s with titles such as Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Showgirls.
Elle was selected off of a short list that also included three other films, Daniele Thompson’s Cezanne and I, starring Guillaume Canet and Guillaume Gaillene, The black and white, Francois Ozon post-World War I drama Frantz, and Anne Fontaine’s entry into Sundance The Innocents.
The committee who selected Elle was made up of Frederique Bredin, Thierry Fremaux, Alain Terzain, Jean-Paul Salome, Teresa Cremisi, Intouchables director Eric Toledano, and actresses Sandrine Bonnaire and Lea Seydoux.
In order to be eligible for Oscar selection, the film had to have a theatrical release between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016. In addition to the dates, the majority of the artistic control of the film had to be held by French citizens or residents. That slight specification follows after last year’s controversy when creative control of a film became a debate within the Academy.
Last Year, France selected Mustang, a Turkish-language film shot in Turkey but directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven, a dual citizen. While Wolf Totem, a Chinese-language film shot in China by Jean0 Jacques Annaud, a french director, was disqualified. Ultimately, Mustang lost to Laszlo Nemes’ Son of Saul.
The last French film to win the foreign-language Oscar was 1993’s Indochine, starring Catherine Deneuve. 2011’s The Artist, a French silent film, won five Oscars including Best Picture. Unfortunately, it was not France’s foreign-language submission that year.