Luxembourg picks 2021 Oscar contender

Julie Schroell’s documentary “River Tales” won the Peripheral Visions Award at the Galway Film Fleadh (Photo: Calach Films)

Julie Schroell’s documentary “River Tales” won the Peripheral Visions Award at the Galway Film Fleadh (Photo: Calach Films)

Directed by Luxembourg artist Julie Schroell, the film is set along the banks of the San Juan river in Nicaragua where investors since 2013 have been planning a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans although nothing has become of the project so far.

“River Tales” follows a teacher who tries to create a play with his students living along the river to explore their identity and that of the San Juan, a symbol of colonisation and the exploitation of Nicaragua’s natural resources.

Watch the trailer.

The Spanish-language film’s premiere had to be cancelled when this year’s Luxembourg City Film Festival was cut short because of the outbreak of the coronavirus in the grand duchy.

Produced by Luxembourg's Calach Films, “River Tales” streamed online during the festival’s at home edition and is now screening in cinemas. It won the Peripheral Visions Award at Ireland’s Galway Film Fleadh as well as the Best Environmental Documentary prize at the Close Up Dokufest in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Last year, 92 countries competed for nomination in the best foreign-language film category, which has been renamed international feature film for the 2021 Oscars. The nominees for the 93rd Academic Awards will be announced on 15 March 2021, with the ceremony scheduled for 25 April, roughly two months later than foreseen before the pandemic.

An international feature film is a motion picture, documentary or animated film produced outside the US and with a mostly non-English dialogue track.

Luxembourg’s pick for the 2020 Oscars--“Tel Aviv on Fire”--failed to scoop up a nomination. Luxembourg coproductions “The Breadwinner”, “Ernest and Celesting” and “Song of the Sea” were previously nominated in the animated feature film category and a Luxembourg animated short--“Mr Hublot”--in 2014 snagged the Academy Award in that category.