Russia's choice for the foreign film Oscar was met with a "thanks, but no thanks" from the head of the Russian national Oscar committee. Vladimir Menshov, head of the committee, has asked Nikita Mikhalkov to kindly remove his film, WWII drama "Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel," from contention for the Oscar, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The majority of the Russian Oscar committee members voted for the film, but Menshov was not one of them.
“I’m waiting [for Mikhalkov to respond], but the film is being prepared to be sent out,” Menshov told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday.
The second sequel (this was the first) to "Burnt by the Sun" was hated by critics and bombed at the box office, making it a curious choice by Russia's Oscar committee. They may have been banking on a repeat of 1994, when the first "Burnt by the Sun" won the foreign language film Oscar, or on Mikhalkov's name alone. The director's film "12" was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2008 Oscars.
Aleksander Sokurov's retelling of "Faust" would seem to be a more obvious choice, considering it won the Golden Lion at Cannes this year. Its release date, however, may not allow it to be eligible. Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Elena" is another -- it also premiered at Cannes, where it won the Special Jury Prize.
So far, 30 countries have picked the films they'd like to represent them at the awards. Submissions will continue to flow in until Oct. 1, after which the Academy narrows down the playing field to five contenders.
The strongest entry thus far seems to be Lebanon's "Where Do We Go Now?". It won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, an honor that is often telling of who will win the foreign language Oscar. Last year, Denmark won for "In a Better World."
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that the Academy asked Russia to remove their Oscar entry. It was Vladimir Menshov, head of the Russian national Oscar committee, who requested they pull the film, not the Academy, nor the Russian Oscar committee itself.