Jordan will be represented by Theeb, the debut feature from U.K.-born, Jordan-based filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar.

Colombia will be represented by Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent.

Ireland missed out on a first-ever nomination after making the shortlist of the final nine foreign-language candidates with its Spanish-language submission Viva, directed by Paddy Breathnach.

Theeb is a historic drama that premiered in Venice in 2014. Set in 1916, it tells the story of a Bedouin boy struggling for survival in the midst of WWI as Ottoman forces fight to keep a grip on their crumbling empire. The movie has drawn comparisons with Lawrence of Arabia and won praise for its young cast and director, who won the 2014 best director prize in Venice.

The film is Jordan’s second submission in the foreign-language race. Previously, the country submitted Amin Matalqa’s Captain Abu Raed (2008), but the film didn’t get nominated.

The black-and-white Serpent spans 40 years in the relationship between an Amazonian shaman and two European scientists as they search the jungle for a sacred healing plant in the early 20th century. The film topped the Directors’ Fortnight at last year’s edition of the Cannes Film Festival, marking the director’s return to the Riviera after his 2009 entry The Wind Journeys. Colombia has submitted 24 films in the foreign-language category, but had so far never been nominated.

Rounding out the foreign-language Oscar race are Hungary’s Son of Saul from Laszlo Nemes, the film about a Jewish Auschwitz concentration-camp prisoner desperately trying to give a boy a decent burial, which won Hungary its first Golden Globe, Turkish-language French entry Mustang from Deniz Gamze Erguven, about five sisters who are increasingly isolated by their family as they near womanhood, and Denmark’s A War, directed by Tobias Lindholm, which is about a company commander stationed in an Afghan province while his wife is trying to hold everyday life together back home.

Hungarian films had been nominated for the foreign-language Oscar eight times before Thursday, but Son of Saul marks the first nomination since the fall of Communism in 1989. Istvan Szabo’s Mephisto (1981) won the country’s sole foreign-language honor.

France is one of the most successful countries in the foreign-language category. Before Thursday’s nominations, it had received 36 nominations. The country has won the category nine times, most recently for Regis Wargnier’s Indochine (1992).

Denmark: 13 Best Foreign Language Nominees

Denmark had been nominated 12 times in the category, with Thursday’s nomination taking its tally to 13. It has won three times, most recently for Susanne Bier’s In a Better World (2010).

The other foreign-language submissions that failed to make the cut of final nominees were Germany’s Labyrinth of Lies, a period drama from newbie director Giulio Ricciarelli about a mostly-forgotten piece of German history; Belgium’s religious comedy The Brand New Testament, directed by Jaco Van Dormael and starring Catherine Deneuve, among others; Finland’s The Fencer, directed by Klaus Haro, which is set in Soviet-occupied Estonia and focuses on a man on the run from the secret police.


Viva, Ireland’s fourth submission in the foreign-language category, which focuses on an 18-year-old Cuban working in a drag bar in Havana whose life is shaken by the return of his long-lost father.