Ireland’s Viva makes shortlist to join Oscar-chasing pack

Paddy Breathnach’s film portrays young gay man’s struggle to get by in present-day Cuba

The Irish have been outperforming throughout this year’s awards season, with Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and John Crowley’s Brooklyn catching the eye. Photograph: Reuters

The Irish have been outperforming throughout this year’s awards season, with Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and John Crowley’s Brooklyn catching the eye. Photograph: Reuters

 

Paddy Breathnach’s Viva has made it on to the penultimate Oscar shortlist for the best foreign language feature film.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, selected just nine films from 80 submissions. The list will be whittled down to five Oscar nominations in early January.

Since 2006 submitted films no longer have to be in an official language of the submitting country. Should Viva, whose dialogue is in Spanish, progress it would be the first time Ireland has had a runner in this particular race. The film was produced by Treasure Entertainment with The Irish Film Board.

Only one film is eligible per nation and, in making the shortlist, Viva edged aside fancied entries from Chile and Iceland. There was general astonishment that Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Taiwanese The Assassin, among the most acclaimed films of the year, did not make the shortlist.

Written by Mark O’Halloran, co-creator of Adam & Paul and Garage, Viva concerns a young gay man struggling to get by in contemporary Cuba.

Rave reviews

The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last September where it received rave reviews.

Breathnach, best known for the comic thriller I Went Down, said: “I’m thrilled to have made the list. Making Viva was a great and, at times, crazy adventure. I’m so happy that everyone’s efforts are getting recognition.”

The Irish have been outperforming throughout this year’s awards season. Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, which recently received three Golden Globe nominations, and John Crowley’s Brooklyn, celebrated since its debut at Sundance in February, are odds-on with the bookies to receive Oscar nominations for best picture. Those films are also Irish Film Board productions.

James Hickey, chief executive of the board, said: “It is wonderful to see Viva making the shortlist for the foreign language film category at the Academy Awards. To get this far in the selection process is a huge achievement in itself.”

The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 14th.