The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has ruled that Mother, Bulgaria’s entry for the International Feature Film Oscar this year, is ineligible. This week, the decision was publicized on social media by the movie’s director, Zornitsa Sophia.

Mother was turned down by the Academy because more than half of the spoken conversation track was in English, according to sources who talked with Deadline.

The producer of Mother contacted the Academy to ask for clarification of the eligibility requirement, which states that “the recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed picture must be predominantly (more than 50%) in a language or languages other than English,” according to Zornitsa Sophia, whose 2004 film Mila From Mars was Bulgaria’s Oscar entry that year.

Two members of her team used stopwatches to independently measure the length of the dialogue tracks after hearing from the Academy that eligibility is established by timing the length of the English and non-English dialogue.

Academy Rejects Bulgaria’s International Oscar Submission ‘Mother’

The non-English (Bulgarian, Swahili, and Maasai) dialogue in the movie, according to one of them, is 30 seconds longer than the English dialogue; according to the other, the difference is 1 minute, 35 seconds in favor of non-English speaking.

The team submitted Mother for Oscar consideration earlier this month because they were confident that the movie met the criteria set forth by the Academy.

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Mother was up against films like SpeculatorS (directed by Georgi Kostov), Escape (by Viktor Bojinov), In the Heart of the Machine (by Martin Makariev), To Put It Mildly (by Anri Kulev, an animated film), Petya of My Petya (by Alexander Kossev), Fishbone (by Dragomir Sholev), Shakespeare as a Street Dog (by Valeri Yordanov), and Phi 1.618 for the nation’s nomination (director Theodore Ushev).

The Bulgarian selection committee, which is presided over by Maria Bakalova, the Oscar-nominated Borat actress, has until October 3 to submit a different movie for consideration.

This is not the first time the Academy has disqualified an International Feature Film Oscar entry due to the volume of its English-language dialogue; Canada’s Deepa Mehta’s Funny Boy was disqualified two years prior for the same reason.

Academy Rejects Bulgaria’s International Oscar Submission ‘Mother’

The news indicates that controversy surrounded Bulgaria’s selection procedure for the second year in a row. Last year, the decision to screen the immigrant thriller Fear was met with a barrage of criticism, including claims of fraudulent voting and “institutional racism, misogyny, and denialism.”

Bojinov withdrew his film Escape from consideration this time around, claiming a conflict of interest for one of the committee members. After that, that member was changed, but Bojinov didn’t submit his video again.

Mother was inspired by actual occurrences and was written by Zornitsa Sophia (real name Zornitsa Popgancheva) and Miglena Dimova.

Elena (Daria Simeonova), a theatre director who is attempting to conceive with her husband, Leon, is the main character (Leon Lucev). When Elena unexpectedly enters menopause at age 32, her plans to conceive a family is thwarted.

Academy Rejects Bulgaria’s International Oscar Submission ‘Mother’

She then focuses her attention on a life-changing theatre program for orphans in Bulgaria and receives an invitation to expand the program to Kenya.

Bulgaria’s Cinemania 2022 is scheduled to debut the international co-production in November.

On March 12, 2023, the 95th Oscars will take place. Prior to the nominations announcement on January 24, the shortlists for the International Feature and a few other categories will be made public on December 21.

Here is the most recent list of movies entered in the International Feature competition.

2023 Oscars International Feature Film Submissions

Country FilmDirector
Armenia Aurora’s SunriseInna Sahakyan
Austria CorsageMarie Kreutzer
Belgium CloseLukas Dhont
Bolivia UtamaAlejandro Loayza Grisi
Brazil Plan 75Chie Hayakawa
Canada Eternal SpringJason Loftus
Ecuador Lo InvisibleJavier Andrade
Germany All’s Quiet On The Western FrontEdward Berger
Iceland Beautiful BeingsArnar Guðmundsson
India Last Film ShowPan Nalin
Ireland The Quiet GirlColm Bairéad
Israel Cinema SabayaOrit Fouks Rotem
Japan Plan 75Chie Hayakawa
Panama Birthday BoyArturo Montenegro
Poland EOJerzy Skolimowski
South Korea Decision To LeavePark Chan-wook
Switzerland A Piece Of SkyMichael Koch
Taiwan Goddamned AsuraLou Yi-an
Tunisia Under The Fig TreesErige Sehiri
Uruguay The Employer And The EmployeeManolo Nieto
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