Oscars best international feature

26 October 2023

Film still: Under the Hanging Tree


Oscars best international feature

26 October 2023

Before films are nominated for the best international feature at the Academy Awards, countries must first nominate a chosen title for consideration. This year, we’re feeling proud that a number of nations picked films we’ve backed with our Hubert Bals Fund, presented at CineMart and screened at IFFR 2023.

Countries had until 2 October to submit their nominated titles which must have had a local theatrical release between 1 December 2022 and 31 October 2023. The ceremony for the 96th Academy Awards is set to take place in March 2024. 

In a landmark first, Under the Hanging Tree by Perivi Katjavivi was selected as Namibia’s first ever submission to the Oscars, after its world premiere at IFFR 2023.

Titles that screened at IFFR 2023

Hong Kong : A Light Never Goes Out dir. Anastasia Tsang

A love story about a widow resolved to finish her late husband’s artwork, and a supreme ode to one of Hong Kong’s hallmarks: the neon signs. A Light Never Goes Out ties the legendary face of the city-state to private stories of Hongkongers.

Iceland: Godland dir. Hlynur Palmason

A Lutheran priest is sent to the Danish colony of Iceland to oversee the building of a church and a journey of (self-)discovery begins. Part ironic essay on religion's foibles, part hard look at civilisation's soft spots, Godland is among the year's richest cinema experiences.

Namibia: Under The Hanging Tree dir. Perivi Katjavivi 

A Namibian noir that blends the mystic with the historical. Perivi Katjavivi plays with modern identity and colonial legacies as ancient symbols haunt the present, driving the narrative to a twist that explores the traumatic past through a re-envisaged lens.

Austria: Vera dir. Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel

Burdened by a life spent in the shadow of her famous father, Vera Gemma comes to terms with the reality of an exploitative world. A simultaneously beautiful and tragic portrayal by an award-winning directorial duo.


Titles supported by the Hubert Bals Fund

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Excursion dir. Una Gunjak

In Sarajevo, a teenager seeking validation reveals that she had sex for the first time during a game of 'truth or dare' among middle schoolers. Trapped in her own lie, she invents a pregnancy and becomes the centre of a controversy that spirals out of control. (Locarno)

Malaysia: Tiger Stripes dir. Amanda Nell Eu

Zaffan (12) struggles with puberty, discovering a terrifying secret about her physical self. Her failed attempts to conceal the inevitable lead her friends to find out who she really is, and they attack her. As Zaffan is further provoked by her own community, she soon learns that embracing her true self is the only answer to her freedom. (La Semaine de la Critique)

Mexico: Tótem dir. Lila Avilés

A choral film about life. Seven-year-old Sol spends the day at her grandfather’s home, helping her aunts Nuri and Alejandra with the preparations for a surprise party they are throwing for Sol’s father, Tonatiuh. As daylight fades, a strange and chaotic atmosphere takes over. (Berlinale)

Mongolia: City Of Wind dir. Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir

Ze is a timid 17-year-old shaman. He studies hard at school to succeed in the cold, callous society of modern Mongolia, while communing with his ancestral spirit to help those in his community. But when Ze encounters Maralaa, his senses are awakened and another reality manifests.  (La Biennale di Venezia

Presented at CineMart

Argentina: Los delincuentes dir. Rodrigo Moreno

Morán and Román are two bank employees that at some point in their lives question the routine life they carry out. One of them finds a solution, committing a crime. Somehow he succeeds and commits his destiny to his partner. This decision will lead to a resounding change in their lives in search of a better existence. (Cannes

Film still: Tótem

Film still: Los delincuentes

Film still: City of Wind

Film still: Godland

Film still: Tiger Stripes

Film still: Excursion

Film still: Vera

Film still: A light never goes out


IFFR at the summer festivals

Titles we backed have been screening at international festivals

Other blog posts on Hubert Bals Fund