The French culture ministry on Friday unveiled the new committee that will pick the French movies to enter the Oscar race in the best international film category.
The group, which French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak announced, includes the Oscar-winning producer, and ex-Lionsgate top executive and Summit boss Patrick Wachsberger (Coda), two-time Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water) and directors Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) and Mounia Meddour (Papicha). From the film industry side, Tanja Meissner, head of sales and acquisitions at Memento Films International, and Europa International’s Sabine Chemaly will also get a vote on what French films to submit to the U.S. Academy.
France has overhauled its nomination process after an exceptionally long Oscar drought for Le Grand Nation. Of the last 10 French international Oscar submissions, only four made the final shortlist, and just two — Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang in 2015 and Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables in 2019 — received Oscar nominations. Neither won.
France has not won an Oscar for best international film since Régis Wargnier’s Indochine in 1993.
Critics of the old nomination process claimed it was too weighed towards French films that had their premiere at the Cannes Film Festival — the 2021 decision to put up Julia Ducournau’s controversial and divisive Palme d’Or winner Titane over Audrey Diwan’s Venice Golden Lion winner Happening, which many thought would have better chances at the Oscars — was a trigger to change the system.
The seven-member nomination committee will be twice with two non-voting observers: The President of the French Film Board, the CNC, and the President of international film promotion body Unifrance. On September 13, the committee will select a shortlist of 3-5 contenders. On September 21, it will meet with producers and sales companies and, if necessary, speak to the U.S. distributor of each film, before making their final decision.
National nominees have to be submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Oct. 2. The Academy will announce the films on the 2024 Oscar shortlist on Dec. 21. The five nominees for best international film will be announced on Jan. 23, 2024. The 95th Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 10, 2024.