Loreak, or 'Flowers' in English, was revealed as Spain’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Oscar category on Tuesday by the country’s Academy of Cinema.
— Academia de Cine (@AcademiaCineEs) September 29, 2015
Spain's Academy of Cinema tweeted “Congratulations!” to the film.
It is the first Basque-language film ever submitted by Spain in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
In an unusual step from the Academy, which usually opts for more internationally well-known directors or actors for its Oscar submissions, with previous winners including Pedro Almodóvar in 1999 for All About My Mother and Alejandro Amenábar in 2004 – the last time Spain made the shortlist – for The Sea Inside, starring recent Bond villain, Javier Bardem.
Loreak was up against two Spanish-language films: Magical Girl and Felices 140, starring Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, perhaps best known internationally for 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth (which took home the Oscar for Best Makeup).
But with Spain not making the shortlist in 11 years, perhaps the Academy of Cinema is hoping a different, and historic, choice will bring it to the attention of the Oscars.
Loreak, starring a cast of mostly unknown actors, made history in Spain in 2014 by becoming the first Basque language film to be nominated for Best Film at the Goyas, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars.
Directed by José Mari Goneaga and Jon Garaño, it tells the story of Ana, whose humdrum life is changed after she starts receiving a bunch of flowers at the same time, on the same day every week.
It received rave reviews after premiering at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2014, with Jonathan Holland of the Hollywood Reporter calling it “as beguiling and beautifully structured as the flowers of its title”.
Fans of the film took to Twitter, many writing “zorionak” or “congratulations” in Basque, while the film's official Twitter page posted “Whooooo! Thank you very much!”
The deadline for submissions for Best Foreign Language Film is October 1st. The Academy will then release a shortlist of nine finalists in mid-December before announcing the final five nominated films on January 14th 2016.
Spain has had mixed success at the Oscars, while it has not made the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film category in 11 years, its actors have made a mark, particularly one famous Spanish thespian couple.
Penelope Cruz winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2008. Photo: AFP
Javier Bardem won the Best Supporting Actor oscar in 2007 for No Country For Old Men, while his wife, Penelope Cruz, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2008 for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, becoming the first Spanish actor and actress to ever win an Academy Award.
The 88th Academy Awards will take place on February 28th 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.