South African filmmakers are invited to submit their films for consideration in the 94th Annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), a Department of Arts and Culture agency tasked with ensuring the equitable growth of South Africa’s film and video industry. The announcement comes as the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences began accepting submissions for the International Feature Film Award.
The NFVF is authorized to make submissions on behalf of the South African film industry by the Academy. The NFVF will select one film to represent the country for the award. To be eligible, filmmakers must release their films in South Africa between January 1 and December 31, 2021. In addition, the film must have been shown in a commercial cinema for at least seven days in a row. Films that were slated for a theatrical release but were instead made available through a streaming service are also eligible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
The filmmakers must supply the film’s original dialogue track. For this category, the film must be made in a language other than English for at least 50 per cent of the duration. It needs to have proper English subtitles as well. The NFVF must attest to the Academy that the film’s creative control was mainly in the hands of South Africans as part of the eligibility standards. The South African International Feature Film Committee will approve the official selection and submit it to the Academy after a voting procedure. Filmmakers have until September 17 to submit their work to the NFVF for consideration.
Toorbos, an Afrikaans film, was submitted as South Africa’s Oscar submission in 2020. However, it was neither nominated nor shortlisted for the award. Nevertheless, several local films have made the shortlist over the years. For example, Tsotsi received the Best International Feature Film Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards in 2005. While this is one path to the Oscars for South African filmmakers, it is not the only one. Notably, My Octopus Teacher, a South African documentary, received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2021.