Ajoomma fails to make Oscars shortlist for best international film

Ajoomma, starring (from left) Hong Huifang, Kang Hyung-suk and Jung Dong-hwan. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

SINGAPORE – Comedy-drama Ajoomma, starring Singaporean actress Hong Huifang, did not make the shortlist for Best International Feature Film for the upcoming Oscars in March.

The Singapore-South Korea collaboration was selected as Singapore’s submission to the 2023 Academy Awards in October. No Singapore film has made it to the shortlist of this category, previously known as Best Foreign Language Film.

Directed by local film-maker He Shuming, the film tells the story of Auntie (Hong), a widow obsessed with K-dramas who travels to Seoul as a tourist and becomes caught in an adventure.

South Korean actors Jung Dong-hwan and Kang Hyung-suk co-star in the movie, which was nominated for four awards at the recent Golden Horse Awards, including Best Actress for Hong.

The Oscars shortlist of 15 movies which made the cut, announced on Wednesday, includes South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s romance mystery Decision To Leave; Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s Close, a tale about fractured teenage friendship; German director Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front, an adaptation of the classic anti-war novel; and French director Alice Diop’s courtroom drama Saint Omer.

Other Asian films selected include Joyland (Pakistan), Last Film Show (India) and Return To Seoul (Cambodia).

The five nominated films will be announced in January.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also released shortlists of eligible contenders in nine other categories, including Documentary, Sound, Original Score, Original Song, Make-up and Hairstyling, and Visual Effects.

Ajoomma’s original motion picture soundtrack, featuring 20 original compositions scored by Singaporean composer Ting Si Hao, will be released on Friday on most streaming platforms.

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The movie is also opening in Taiwan on Friday, and is scheduled to be released in Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines in the first quarter of 2023, with other territories soon to follow.

It has received four awards so far: Best Film at the second BaliMakarya Film Festival in Indonesia (under the South-east Asian Feature Competition), Best Actress at the eighth Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles, Best Screenplay at the QCinema International Film Festival in the Philippines and Audience Award for Best Film at the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.

The film, which opened in Singapore on Oct 27, is nearing the end of its run.

Its producer, Singaporean film-maker Anthony Chen, posted on Instagram Stories on Wednesday: “Film is in its last days in Singapore cinemas. Watch it now. Avatar will still screen for a long time.”

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