Oscar 2016: France Selects Verhoeven’s Rape Feature Elle as Entry for Best Foreign Language Film

France has selected Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, a feature about rape starring Isabelle Huppert, as its submission for the best foreign-language film category at the Oscars.


The first French-language film from Showgirls and Basic Instinct director Verhoeven, Elle stars Huppert as a rape victim. The film drew strong reviews in Cannes Fest.

Dubbed a “rape comedy” when it had its world premiere at Cannes, the movie focuses on a middle-aged woman, played by Huppert, who refuses to succumb to victimhood after she is viciously raped.

Elle will be release in the United States by Sony Classics Pictures on November  11.

It was selected from a shortlist of four films, including Daniele Thompson’s Cezanne and I, starring Guillaume Canet and Guillaume Gaillene, Francois Ozon’s black-and-white post-World War I drama Frantz, and Anne Fontaine’s Sundance entry The Innocents.

The selection committee was chaired by National Cinema Center head Frederique Bredin, Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux, French Academy president Alain Terzain, film promotion body Unifrance president Jean-Paul Salome, film financing aid body president Teresa Cremisi, Intouchables director Eric Toledano and actresses Sandrine Bonnaire and Lea Seydoux.

For films to be eligible for French selection, they had to have a theatrical release between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016, and their artistic production must be overseen by French citizens.

Last year, France selected Mustang, a Turkish-language drama shot in Turkey with a local crew but directed by dual citizen Deniz Gamze Erguven.

But Wolf Totem, a Chinese-language film shot in China by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, was disqualified by the Academy.

Mustang, which won five Cesar awards in France, was nominated in the foreign-language category last year, but Laszlo Nemes’ Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul won the prize.

In 2011, The Artist, which won five Oscars including for Best Picture, but it was not France’s foreign-language submission that year.

The last French film to win the Best Foreign-Language Oscar was Indochine, in 1992, starring Catherine Deneuve.

France has won the foreign-language Oscar less often than Italy, just nine times.