PSIFF catalogue, end-of-year

I haven’t been blogging much this week because I’ve been tapped to furiously write catalogue entries for the Palm Springs International Film Festival (January 6-17), my favorite festival in the Los Angeles vicinity because it intentionally screens all 50-odd international films submitted to AMPAS that are invariably and clumsily reduced to five random nominees in the Foreign Language category on Oscar night. And it screens much more than that: the past few years have allowed me to see such films as The Son, To Be and To Have, Goodbye Dragon Inn, Distant, and The Story of Marie and Julien long before their pathetic, single-theater runs in L.A.

Which brings me to something else I’m contemplating as the year draws to a close, my own contribution to the ubiquitous best-of-the-year lists. Participating in this enjoyable thread on the subject, I recalled that many of the best films I’ve seen this year were technically 2003 releases (Distant and The Story of Marie and Julien being prime examples), which presents the increasing problem of compiling a list that is comparable to other cinephiles who live in other parts of the world, or even the country. One wishes to judge the same pool of films, more or less, (especially when some of my favorite films were movies I saw with friends at TIFF this year) but also include all of one’s favorites from year to year. However, if I ranked my favorite films strictly by date-of-release, my lists would inevitably leapfrog several key films. Such is the cinephile’s dilemma of making lists, compounded by a slow and uneven distribution system.

Anyway, expect some updates soon.

Edit: Here are this year’s 49 submissions to the Oscars (finalized in mid-October):

Afghanistan, “Earth and Ashes,” directed by Atiq Rahimi
Argentina, “A Lost Embrace,” directed by Daniel Burman
Austria, “Antares,” directed by Gotz Spielmann
Belgium, “The Alzheimer Case,” directed by Erik Van Looy
Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Days and Hours,” directed by Pjer Zalica
Brazil, “Olga,” directed by Jayme Monjardim
Bulgaria, “Mila from Mars,” directed by Zornitsa Sophia
Canada, “Far Side of the Moon,” directed by Robert Lepage
Chile, “Machuca,” directed by AndrÈs Wood
China, “House of Flying Daggers,” directed by Zhang Yimou
Croatia, “Long Dark Night,” directed by Antun Vrdoljak
Czech Republic, “Up and Down,” directed by Jan Hrebejk
Denmark, “The Five Obstructions,” directed by J¯rgen Leth & Lars von Trier
Ecuador, “Chronicles,” directed by Sebasti·n Cordero
Egypt, “I Love Cinema,” directed by Osama Fawzy
Estonia, “Revolution of Pigs,” directed by Karlo Funk
Finland, “Producing Adults,” directed by Aleksi Salmenper‰
France, “The Chorus,” directed by Christophe Barratier
Germany, “Downfall,” directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Greece, “A Touch of Spice,” directed by Tassos Boulmetis
Hungary, “Kontroll,” directed by NimrÛd Antal
Iceland, “Cold Light,” directed by Hilmar Oddsson
India, “Shwaas,” directed by Sandeep Sawant
Iran, “Turtles Can Fly,” directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Israel, “Campfire,” directed by Joseph Cedar
Italy, “The House Keys,” directed by Gianni Amelio
Japan, “Nobody Knows,” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Korea, “Tae Guk Gi,” directed by Kang Je-gyu
Macedonia, “The Great Water,” directed by Ivo Trajikov
Malaysia, “A Legendary Love,” directed by Saw Teong Hin
Mexico, “Innocent Voices,” directed by Luis Mandoki
The Netherlands, “Simon,” directed by Eddy Terstall
Norway, “Hawaii, Oslo,” directed by Erik Poppe
Palestine, “The Olive Harvest,” directed by Hanna Elias
Philippines, “Crying Ladies,” directed by Mark Meily
Poland, “The Welts,” directed by Magdalena Piekorz
Portugal, “The Miracle According to SalomÈ,” directed by M·rio Barroso
Romania, “Orient-Express,” directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu
Russia, “Night Watch,” directed by Timolir Bekmambetov
Serbia and Montenegro, “Goose Feather,” directed by Ljubisa Samardzic
Slovenia, “Beneath Her Window,” directed by Metod Pevec
South Africa, “Yesterday,” directed by Darrell Roodt
Spain, “The Sea Inside,” directed by Alejandro Amenabar
Sweden, “As in Heaven,” directed by Kay Pollak
Switzerland, “Mein Name Ist Bach,” directed by Dominique de Rivaz
Taiwan, “20 : 30 : 40,” directed by Sylvia Chang
Thailand, “The Overture,” directed by Itthisoontorn Vichailak
Uruguay, “Whisky,” directed by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll
Venezuela, “Punto y Raya,” directed by Elia Schneider

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