Koza steps into the Oscars race
by Martin Kudláč
- Slovakia pins its Oscars hopes on Ivan Ostrochovský's award-winning fiction feature debut
Slovakian film Koza [+see also:
interview: Ivan Ostrochovský
film profile], which has just had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been voted by the members of the Slovak Film and Television Academy as the country's submission for the nominations for the 2016 Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film. Seven films were confirmed as eligible to become Slovakia's nomination, including two fairy tales (Láska na vlásku [+see also:
film profile] by Mariana Čengel-Solčanská and the Slovak-Czech co-produced Seven Ravens [+see also:
film profile] by Alice Nellis) and three documentaries: Miro Remo's examination of recidivism in Comeback, Jaro Vojtek's observational documentary on autism, So Far, So Near, and Matej Mináč's portrait of his mother, photographer Zuzana Mináčová, in Through the Eyes of the Photographer. Besides Koza, another fiction feature being considered was Juraj Nvota's family dramedy Hostage [+see also:
film profile], co-produced with the Czech Republic.
The film follows the real-life figure of Slovakian Roma lightweight boxer Peter Baláž, nicknamed Koza (“Goat”), who plays a fictionalised version of himself on what seems to be his last boxing tour. The protagonist steps back into the ring to take as many face-shattering blows as possible in order to raise the money necessary for an abortion, although he hopes to change his partner's mind in the process. “Koza's story is tough and sad; it deals with several pressing and complicated issues, but that was not the storyline we wanted to emphasise. On the contrary, we even wanted to repress it to avoid the pathos that usually emerges when one stresses pain, misery and misfortune,” explained the director.
Koza was unveiled as a world premiere in the Forum section of this year's Berlinale and hassince won 11 awards: Best Film and the CICAE Art Cinema Award at the Vilnius Film Festival (see the news), the Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director and the FIPRESCI Award at goEast Wiesbaden, Best Film at the Neisse Film Festival, Best Film and the Abraccine Critics' Award at Olhar de Cinema, the Seyfi Teoman Award for the bravest first or second feature film at the European Film Festival Palić, and Best Film at the Pula Film Festival, to name but a few. It has also had a great run on the festival circuit while also being longlisted for the “European Oscars”, the 28th European Film Awards (see the news). Paradoxically enough, Koza was not originally the country's submission for the EFAs; the Slovak Film and Television Academy initially chose two of Jaro Vojtek's films – the documentary So Far, So Near and the portmanteau fiction feature on damaged family relations, Children. But against all the odds, the European Film Academy decided to pick Koza.