Two Finnish-produced movies chase Oscar dream

'Compartment No. 6' and 'The Gravedigger's Wife' are on the longlist of 90 films for the Best International Feature Film category.

There were initial doubts about whether The Gravedigger's Wife could be defined as a Somali film. Image: Lasse Lecklin / BUFO

Two Finnish productions are vying for the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Finland's Oscars jury selected Compartment No. 6, directed by Juho Kuosmanen, as the country's candidate for the category in October and the U.S.-based Motion Picture Academy has accepted the film The Gravedigger's Wife (known in Finnish as Guled & Nasra) as the Somali nominee for the award.

The Gravedigger's Wife was directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed in a co-production involving companies from France, Somalia, Germany and Helsinki-based production company Bufo.

Ahmed's directorial feature debut was filmed in Djibouti — which was previously part of Somalia — in 2019 but its release was delayed by the Covid pandemic. There were initial doubts about whether The Gravedigger's Wife could be defined as a Somali film but the jury eventually accepted the nomination, making it Somalia's first entry in the best international film category.

The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it became part of the International Critics' Week program and has also won awards from the African Film Academy and at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Academy's longlist of 90 films will be shortened to 15 films on 21 December, and the actual nominations will be announced in February.

The 2022 Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, will be held on 27 March.