In advance of the October 1st deadline for countries to send in their Oscar entries for the best foreign language film category, the Icelandic Film and TV Academy has selected Rams to represent Iceland in the Academy Awards race. Iceland submits regularly for Oscar consideration, but has so far only received one nomination in the foreign film category to date- the 1991 feature Children of Nature (which lost to the Italian film Mediterraneo). Last year, Iceland submitted Life in a Fishbowl, which failed to receive a nomination.
Writer-director Grímur Hákonarson’s film has been described as a beautifully-shot drama with dryly humorous moments. It has already picked up several nods on the festival circuit, including winning the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard Prix, the Golden Tower award for Best Film at the European Film Festival Palic in Serbia, and the Special Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Transilvania Fest.
The film revolves around two estranged brothers (Sigurdur Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson) living on adjacent sheep farms who tend to their sheep stock and prized rams which are central to community life and are part of their tradition and heritage. Despite their decades-long feud, the brothers must now face a common threat in the form of a lethal sheep disease that has affected their remote farming valley in Iceland. The European Film Festival Palic international jury described the award recipient as “a film that speaks about universal needs of human relationship in a simple metaphoric way.”
Met with highly positive reviews at the Telluride Film Festival this past week, Rams will screen next at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. New Europe Film Sales has sold the film to the U.S. with Cohen Media Group and a limited release in New York and Los Angeles is planned for February. The project is produced by Netop Films’ Grímar Jónsson and co-produced by Ditte Milsted and Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will nominate five films for Best Foreign Language Film. Oscar nominees will be announced on January 14, 2016. The Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 28, 2016.