Writer-director-producer Greg Sneddon’s Bhutan-set drama Arrows of the Thunder Dragon is Australia’s entry for the best foreign language film Oscar.

Set in the 1970s, the story follows brother and sister Kuenphen and Jamyang who live in a remote Bhutanese village where they learn traditional archery from their old warrior grandfather.

Their mother's sudden sickness gives Kuenphen the opportunity to explore the world outside the village while Jamyang must stay home to weave, cook and get married- a fate she is not willing to accept without a fight.

The self-financed film was shot on location in the Himalayan mountains with a cast of local highland village people and a Bhutanese crew including DoP Leki Dorji, none of whom had worked on a feature. Jill Bilock is the editor.

"I'm thrilled to bits," Sneddon tell IF. A former Buddhist monk, he got the idea for the film while on a pilgrimage to the country. "I was impressed by the level of sophistication in these remote villages," he said.  "They have highly refined ancient traditions.  I wanted to look at families and these women on their journey, and to focus on two women who had competed in the Olympics in archery."

The film had a limited cinema release in Australia. Sneddon and executive producer Michael Wrenn are working on plans for a re-release to capitalise on the Oscar attention. International sales are being handled by Paris-based Wide Management. 

Australia's entries in the past three years were Charlie's Country, The Rocket and Lore. Screen Australia arranges an independent panel to make the selection from the Australian foreign language films each year. To be eligible, a film must have predominantly non-English dialogue and played theatrically in its country of origin for at least seven days.

This year 81 countries submitted entries for the foreign language Oscar. The only first-time entrant is Paraguay.

Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards will be announced on January 14 and the awards will be presented on February 29 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

The full list of nominees:

Afghanistan, “Utopia,” Hassan Nazer, director
Albania, “Bota,” Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci, directors
Algeria, “Twilight of Shadows,” Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, director
Argentina, “The Clan,” Pablo Trapero, director
Australia, “Arrows of the Thunder Dragon,” Greg Sneddon, director
Austria, “Goodnight Mommy,” Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, directors
Bangladesh, “Jalal’s Story,” Abu Shahed Emon, director
Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director
Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Our Everyday Story,” Ines Tanović, director
Brazil, “The Second Mother,” Anna Muylaert, director
Bulgaria, “The Judgment,” Stephan Komandarev, director
Cambodia, “The Last Reel,” Sotho Kulikar, director
Canada, “Félix and Meira,” Maxime Giroux, director
Chile, “The Club,” Pablo Larraín, director
China, “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” Han Yan, director
Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director
Costa Rica, “Imprisoned,” Esteban Ramírez, director
Croatia, “The High Sun,” Dalibor Matanić, director
Czech Republic, “Home Care,” Slavek Horak, director
Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director
Dominican Republic, “Sand Dollars,” Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas, directors
Estonia, “1944,” Elmo Nüganen, director
Ethiopia, “Lamb,” Yared Zeleke, director
Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director
France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director
Georgia, “Moira,” Levan Tutberidze, director
Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director
Greece, “Xenia,” Panos H. Koutras, director
Guatemala, “Ixcanul,” Jayro Bustamante, director
Hong Kong, “To the Fore,” Dante Lam, director
Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director
Iceland, “Rams,” Grímur Hákonarson, director
India, “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane, director
Iran, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” Majid Majidi, director
Iraq, “Memories on Stone,” Shawkat Amin Korki, director
Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director
Israel, “Baba Joon,” Yuval Delshad, director
Italy, “Don’t Be Bad,” Claudio Caligari, director
Ivory Coast, “Run,” Philippe Lacôte, director
Japan, “100 Yen Love,” Masaharu Take, director
Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director
Kazakhstan, “Stranger,” Yermek Tursunov, director
Kosovo, “Babai,” Visar Morina, director
Kyrgyzstan, “Heavenly Nomadic,” Mirlan Abdykalykov, director
Latvia, “Modris,” Juris Kursietis, director
Lebanon, “Void,” Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber, directors
Lithuania, “The Summer of Sangaile,” Alanté Kavaïté, director
Luxembourg, “Baby (A)lone,” Donato Rotunno, director
Macedonia, “Honey Night,” Ivo Trajkov, director
Malaysia, “Men Who Save the World,” Liew Seng Tat, director
Mexico, “600 Miles,” Gabriel Ripstein, director
Montenegro, “You Carry Me,” Ivona Juka, director
Morocco, “Aida,” Driss Mrini, director
Nepal, “Talakjung vs Tulke,” Basnet Nischal, director
Netherlands, “The Paradise Suite,” Joost van Ginkel, director
Norway, “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug, director
Pakistan, “Moor,” Jami, director
Palestine, “The Wanted 18,” Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan, directors
Paraguay, “Cloudy Times,” Arami Ullón, director
Peru, “NN,” Héctor Gálvez, director
Philippines, “Heneral Luna,” Jerrold Tarog, director
Poland, “11 Minutes,” Jerzy Skolimowski, director
Portugal, “Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One,” Miguel Gomes, director
Romania, “Aferim!” Radu Jude, director
Russia, “Sunstroke,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director
Serbia, “Enclave,” Goran Radovanović, director
Singapore, “7 Letters,” Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal, directors
Slovakia, “Goat,” Ivan Ostrochovský, director
Slovenia, “The Tree,” Sonja Prosenc, director
South Africa, “The Two of Us,” Ernest Nkosi, director
South Korea, “The Throne,” Lee Joon-ik, director
Spain, “Flowers,” Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga, directors
Sweden, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson, director
Switzerland, “Iraqi Odyssey,” Samir, director
Taiwan, “The Assassin,” Hou Hsiao-hsien, director
Thailand, “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time),” Josh Kim, director
Turkey, “Sivas,” Kaan Müjdeci, director
United Kingdom, “Under Milk Wood,” Kevin Allen, director
Uruguay, “A Moonless Night,” Germán Tejeira, director
Venezuela, “Gone with the River,” Mario Crespo, director
Vietnam, “Jackpot,” Dustin Nguyen, director

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